The 2019 Stanley Cup Final was an epic battle between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins; what better way to finish the clash than a Game 7? We all know how the series ended, but you might've missed all the details revealed by the filmmakers responsible for the "Quest for the Cup" documentary series.
This week, with no live games to watch, the final episode of last year's edition of "Quest for the Cup" is our selection for the NHL Viewers Club, and you can stream it (and all the other episodes) on ESPN+. Follow along below with our guide to the many angles in the epic series finale:
Give us a tagline for the episode in 10 words or fewer:
Emily Kaplan: Relive Games 5 through 7 ... with an abundance of F-bombs.
Greg Wyshynski: Jordan, Laila, Chara's jaw, and a 52-year wait ends.
Best on-ice scene?
Kaplan: Watching a miked-up Zdeno Chara skate down the handshake line after Game 7. So much of Boston's narrative arc centered on its captain, who made a shocking (and heroic) return to this series after breaking his jaw. So this felt like a fitting ending for the Bruins in this series. Several of the Blues -- including Vladimir Tarasenko and coach Craig Berube -- stopped to exchange words with Chara, and it was neat to eavesdrop in on those conversations.
Wyshynski: Blues winger Patrick Maroon absolutely berating Bruins forward Marcus Johansson during Game 5 at the players' benches: "Yo, Johansson ... that's a dive. You're better than that. Don't dive. You're way better than that, buddy!" Watch Johansson's face on the Boston bench as he goes from shaking his head to grinning widely at the gamesmanship. Great stuff.
Best off-ice scene?
Kaplan: What's great about these shows is they capture a lot of small, everyday moments we don't usually get to see. Tarasenko praying at his locker before Game 6 stands out; hockey players typically don't speak about religion, so to witness this felt extremely intimate. I also liked Ryan O'Reilly fully leaning into being a hipster suburban dad, wearing an unbuttoned flannel and biking around his St. Louis neighborhood with his son in a baby seat in the back.
But the one that really resonates is Patrice Bergeron riling up the boys in the locker room ahead of Game 7, in a speech that feels like a mashup between Herb Brooks and "Gladiator." That was a treat.
Wyshynski: It has to be the O'Reilly montage. One of the things I'll always remember about the Blues' Stanley Cup run was the way they felt like part of the fabric of that community. The way they'd talk about hearing "Gloria" playing from cars at stop lights, or seeing signs in every business window supporting the team. As he's riding around his neighborhood, we see houses with Blues flags flapping in the wind, and it really captured that small-town vibe of the team's local backing.
And then there's that lovely bit with his wife, Dayna O'Reilly, talking about how Ryan believed the Blues could win the Cup from the moment he arrived from Buffalo in the offseason after having never come close before in his career. "I feel like there's absolutely nothing like watching the person you love most in the world getting so close to accomplishing what they've been working for their whole life, you know?" she said. "This is why you watch shows like 'Quest for the Stanley Cup.'" Well, maybe there are other reasons ...
Most creative F-bomb?
Kaplan: I loved Bruce Cassidy's mantra, which he repeated in two different locker room speeches during the episode. It feels like a quote Cassidy cribbed from an inspirational leadership book, but edited it to fit his audience: "Adversity. It doesn't build character, it f---ing reveals it."
Wyshynski: I genuinely find it amusing when NHL coaches or players use the "hockey" descriptor when discussing something related to their chosen craft. Like, you don't often hear someone saying "I was trying to get a shot off but I broke my hockey stick." Hockey is, you know, implied. So I enjoyed Blues coach Craig Berube during Game 7 colorfully informing his team what kind of puck they were playing with. "We gotta go at them there. We gotta go make some plays, shooting the f---ing hockey puck," he said. Glad he cleared that up.
Best 'inside the NHL' moment?
Kaplan: Hockey is filled with cliches. But the phrase "pucks in deep" is somehow the most ubiquitous -- and maybe misunderstood. Well, between periods of Game 7 in the Bruins locker room, an unidentifiable Boston player tells the boys to get pucks in deep. So if you had that on your bingo card ...
Wyshynski: As journalists, NHL referees are usually off limits to us (though sometimes not). So it's always fascinating on these shows to see how they interact with the players and each other on the ice. One moment that stood out was when referees Gord Dwyer and Chris Rooney were standing around chatting during Game 6, and one of them says, "Huh, St. Louis is all over them again. Like they were two games ago." You quickly realize that (a) these rule-enforcing automatons are actually fans of the game just like we are and (b) they have the best seats in the house, even though they have to skate the whole time.
Who was the MVP of this episode?
Kaplan: This could easily go to either of the coaches; I loved watching their locker room intensity. But my vote goes to Laila Anderson. The minute she appeared on the screen -- in the now-widely circulated video of Laila's mother telling her they were going to Boston for Game 6 -- the energy changed. And watching the full interaction between Laila and her good friend Colton Parayko soak in the Cup win on the ice, with Parayko helping her lift it up for the first time? That's a scene you won't forget.
Wyshynski: Patrice Bergeron. Granted, his team didn't skate the Cup in the end, but what a glimpse this episode provided into the Bruins center's dressing room leadership. Those were some "run through a wall" level of fiery speeches! Bergeron is well-respected by younger NHLers for playing the right way and inspiring them to do the same. We rarely get a chance to revel in the totality of his veteran presence like we did in some of these "this is what you dream about" speeches.
How does watching this compare to being there for the Cup win?
Kaplan: There are definitely aspects you get watching this episode that I couldn't get from being in the arena -- pretty much any of the locker room scenes or snippets of conversations heard on the ice. The NHL gets final edit on this, so it's probably not a surprise that Bruins president Cam Neely's press box tantrum in Game 5 was muted, and edited down. (Being in the press box that night, it was intense!)
I also wish we got more scenes of the Blues on the ice, celebrating the Stanley Cup. Those 45 minutes or so where the players are skating around, greeting family members, interacting with each other immediately after winning are so special to witness. We see some clips here, but I wish the episode spent more time down there, for the viewer's sake.
Wyshynski: When the cameras enter the Bruins' locker room before the third period of Game 7, I recognized that vibe. It was a 2-0 Blues lead. Jordan Binnington was stopping everything thrown at him. The Boston players were quiet as Cassidy preached to them about getting that one break that would throw the game in their favor. That's how the building felt in Game 7: If St. Louis gave Boston an inch, the Bruins would take a mile and ride it to the Cup. Instead, the Blues just added to their lead and gave the game a sense of inevitability.
What the episode also captured perfectly were those moments between Colton Parayko and Laila Anderson on the ice, where she lifted the Cup and took photos with the player with whom she was closest. I was right there for it and it truly was the perfect end to that story.
Lingering questions after watching?
Kaplan: What was written on that whiteboard, which Patrice Bergeron references during his Game 7 pump-up speech?
Wyshynski: Would a rematch of St. Louis vs. Boston have been our 2020 Stanley Cup Final, given that both teams led their respective conferences when the NHL paused its season? Hopefully, we'll get a chance to find out.