VANCOUVER — The long wait is almost over, and the excitement is palpable in Vancouver as the Bruins and Canucks are just about set to open the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
"I'm very excited, obviously I've been waiting for this for a long time," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said at the club hotel Wednesday afternoon. "I'm pretty happy it's finally here."
The Bruins have been off since beating Tampa 1-0 in a Game 7 classic in the Eastern Conference Final on Friday, while the Canucks have been waiting even longer after dispatching the Sharks in five games a week ago Tuesday.
That wait can add to the nervous energy as the players await the chance to play on the biggest stage of their career.
"They're there, but I think it's a good thing," Bergeron said of his nerves for the game. "I mean it's just normal. You've got to make sure you use it to help you, but I'd be lying if I said there's no nerves right now."
Other Bruins aren't as concerned with the nerves, and welcomed the break between series.
"It's a good chance to reset," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. "There was enough time to kind of leave the last series behind and move on. It does take a couple days for the emotion to be released from that game. Traveling up and having a full day here was good, just to prep for this series and leave everything else behind."
Of course, Ference has some experience in playing for a Cup. He was with Calgary when the Flames lost to Tampa Bay in seven games in 2004, and appreciates being part of two Cup Finals that featured a Canadian club.
"I feel really fortunate, my second time going to the Finals and both times with a Canadian content," Ference said. "It is a special thing. For a Canadian team to be matched up against an Original Six, that's a really cool opportunity as a player. For two great cities with good hockey history to be involved, it's awesome. The Finals are special no matter what, but there's a couple little extra sprinkles on top with this matchup."
Bergeron hasn't been in a Cup Final before, but he has played some big games in Vancouver, winning gold with Team Canada here at the 2010 Olympics.
"It could be similar, obviously we're in Vancouver and there's a lot of hype and media attention for the Finals and it was the same thing with the Olympics," Bergeron said. "I think it's similar, but you just have to be in your own bubble as a team and worry about yourself and take it a game as a time."
The rest of the Bruins are equally excited about the club's first opportunity to play for a Cup since 1990, and possibly win the franchise's first championship since 1972.
"I think as we mentioned this is a great place to be right now and we're excited to play our first game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "There's been a lot of build-up around it, but what matters and what counts is what's going to happen on the ice tonight."
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