Quest for the Stanley Cup Episode 2 recap: What we learned in 'Closer'

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Every week, we'll provide a recap and accompaniment to the latest episode of Quest for the Stanley Cup, the NHL docu-series about the playoffs available exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.

This week we dive into Episode 2, titled "Closer."


Describe this episode in 10 words or less

One suspects they thought Boston was going to win.

Best scene

The film crew was there for that bananas second period of Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes, when the teams combined for eight goals.

"Both teams start to uncharacteristically lose their focus on defense" was quite the understatement, narrator Corey Stoll!

There's also a great scene of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos calming his teammates on the bench as the Lightning are about to go on the power play and begin a furious rally.

Worst foreshadowing

"Once again Tuukka Rask is Boston's bedrock in goal. Last season, he left the bubble for personal reasons and the Bruins fell short. This year, he's here to stay."

As the episode shows, Rask was pulled in the third period of Game 5. And he was there "to stay," but maybe to Boston's detriment: Rask, who needs offseason surgery for a torn labrum, was given the start in Game 6 anyway and the Bruins went home.

Best superstition

There's a segment dedicated to Victor Hedman, which is never a bad idea, and it slowly becomes a focus on playoff superstitions. After revisiting how Hedman roped in Kevin Shattenkirk for a daily coffee ritual in the bubble last postseason, we get to hear about the entire Lightning team (a) eating at the same private room at a restaurant on the road in Raleigh, North Carolina, and (b) sitting in the same seats at that restaurant for each meal, to the point where Hedman moved Stamkos from his seat at the table.

Best art

You know, it's one thing to have Bobby Orr's immortal goal tattooed on your back. But to have him flying over the city ... that's commitment.

Best honesty

"I love Pasta. He's such a great teammate and one of the best players in the league. We do have that kind of relationship where we expect so much from each other. I think maybe he gets frustrated at times because I don't have the level of talent that he has, and he expects me to make the plays that he makes. But I just can't. That's where [Patrice Bergeron] comes in to calm us down, because things can sometimes get a little bit heated. That's part of what makes our line so good. We want to continue to push each other." -- Brad Marchand of the Bruins on his relationship with linemate David Pastrnak.

Episode MVP

Chris Nilan. The Montreal Canadiens are arguably the biggest story of the 2021 playoffs, and the episode spends time with former Hab-turned-radio-host Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, who does a good job framing how important the Canadiens are to the city -- using Boston sports as an interesting contrast, given his history in both cities. An offbeat way to get Montreal in this episode.

Constructive criticism

The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, the two best teams in the NHL by record who were meeting in the West Division finals, were absent from this episode, save for a brief mention at the end. Maybe the timing didn't work out for it to fit.

Lingering questions after watching

What facet of human existence was Brad Marchand contemplating in this picturesque shot, and was it "how fun would it be to push an Islander off of this pier?"