On Wednesday night, Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will lead his team onto the ice at TD Garden in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues in a winner-takes-all match-up for the biggest prize in professional hockey.
But when he was growing up in Ottawa, Cassidy's TD Garden was Coldrey Avenue in the west end of town. That's where he and his friends would imagine themselves playing in the moment he's living in now.
"If I didn't score in Game 7, we lost, we played it again," he said on Tuesday, to chuckles from reporters.
Cassidy admitted that he didn't imagine himself as a coach — he always wanted to be a player. But this is the next best thing.
Now, those childhood dreams of winning the Stanley Cup are just within reach as the Bruins and Blues get ready for Game 7.
Boston has a long, illustrious history with big games, but nothing quite like this. Despite the Bruins being an Original Six team, they've never hosted a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Despite the historic nature of the game and what's at stake for both sides, players seemed cool, calm and collected after Tuesday's practice.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask even chuckled a bit when asked what players were worried about.
"I don’t think you play this long and battle hard just to come here and start worrying about anything," Rask said. "It’s a game, and you go out there, you execute, and then hopefully you’ve played your best game and see what happens.”
But like their coach, the Bruins players have also dreamed to be in this moment.
Both Rask and Bruins left wing Brad Marchand were part of the Boston squad that won the Cup in 2011, which was the last time the Final went to seven games.
Marchand said every hockey player dreams of being in this moment, but it’s much different when you go through it and realize how exciting and hard it is.
“It’s a very special opportunity, you know, regardless of how it plays out tomorrow," he said. "It’s been a special … special adventure with this group, and hopefully it ends on a good note.”
The stakes are bigger, the stage is larger and the fans are louder, but for the players on the ice on Wednesday, this is a moment they've been getting ready for since they've been playing in their driveways.
It's said that there's no two better words in sports than "Game 7." And after six games, it's anybody's guess which team will be sipping from a silver chalice at the end of the night.
This story has been updated to reflect that Game 7 will take place on Wednesday, not Thursday.