For the seventh time in the last seven seasons, the Boston Bruins will face-off in a do-or-die Game 7. They’ll host the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden on Wednesday night with their second-round playoff series knotted at three games. The tilt will mark the ninth Game 7 in the history of the rivalry between the two foes.
Montreal had its way with the Bruins in Game 6, staving off elimination in impressive fashion. The Canadiens established their brand of hockey. They effectively moved the puck, finished around the net and Carey Price led the way in holding the Bruins scoreless.
The Bruins have home-ice advantage for Game 7 and much more experience than Montreal in Game 7s. Though those facts alone won’t earn them a thing. Boston must avoid a slow start and finish off scoring opportunities in order to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
The team that scores the first goal in this series has seen more success than the team who stumbles out of the gate. Scoring first lends way to increased confidence, resulting in the opposition being forced to play out of its comfort zone. Because just one flukey bounce of the biscuit can determine the outcome of a Game 7, the Bruins must make starting strong a priority.
It’s not to say that the Bruins have not had chances to score against Carey Price, because they have had plenty. The fact of the matter is that they have been poor in capitilizing on those chances. Their top scorers, playmakers and snipers will have to have much improved efforts. If Price is not tested early and often, he’ll just settle into a groove.
Aside from imposing themselves as the superior team, which they are when at top form, the Bruins are in dire need of some sort of lucky break. They’ve rung numerous posts, fired just wide of the net ever to often, all while having pucks refuse to roll in when wobbling on the goaline.
“When you win the Stanley Cup, you have played some of your best hockey, but you have also had the breaks. I’ll be the first one to tell you, if we don’t have a little bit of luck when we want it, then we don’t win the Cup,” said Claude Julien. “So it all comes with the package here. So we have to play our best, we have to get some breaks and a little bit of luck.”
The Bruins were Presidents’ Trophy winners for a reason. They were very good all season, aided by a hint of luck. They’ve won four of their last five Game 7s under Julien. Therefore the confidence in the lockeroom is high. Zdeno Chara, in particular, has played in 11 Game 7s.
“I expect us to win, simple as that. Our team has been resilient at rebounds with losses, it’s done that all year. So it’s about having confidence in your group and that I have lots of,” added Julien.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has been participating in contract drills, but he’s not expected to dress for the Bruins.
Boston last Game 7 victory over Montreal was back in 2011. Everyone knows how that story ended.