There’s nothing like a Game 7 in sports, and there are no better Game 7s than in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Of course, when two heated rivals are playing each in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there is not a more exciting event in sports.
That’s the scene tonight, as the latest installment of the storied rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will be completed at TD Bank Garden. Anything can happen in a Game 7, but there are things that teams can do to help control their destiny.
Keys for Boston
1. Stay poised: The Bruins were the better team on Tuesday night, but they did not keep their composure and took dumb penalties, which cost them the win. The worst offenders were Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron. Seidenberg’s slash, seconds after another Bruins’ penalty, was blatant and gave Montreal a 5-on-3, which they quickly converted into a 1-0 lead. Lucic ran Jaroslav Spacek from behind, earning a five-minute major. One could argue the major was unjustified, but the hit was stupid. Players are taught from a young age not to hit when you see the numbers, but that’s what Lucic did. Bergeron compounded the problem with a delay of game penalty seconds later, giving the Habs yet another 5-on-3, which they also converted for a 2-1 lead. Foolish and stupid penalties will be Boston’s downfall.
2. Finish their chances: As stated previously, the Bruins were the better team on Tuesday. However, the B’s did not take advantage of their opportunities. Brad Marchand missed an empty net, David Krejci took a weak shot into Carey Price’s chest from directly in front of the goal, and several Bruins passed up shooting chances to make an extra pass or skate with the puck. It’s Game 7 – convert your chances or go home.
3. Forget history: The Bruins have not been good in Game 7’s recently, going 0-4 and having their season end in Game 7s the past three years, including the last two years at the Garden. They are also 2-5 all-time in Game 7’s against Montreal, including losses in 2004 and 2008. Boston has not won a Game 7 since beating the Canadiens in 1994.
Keys for Montreal
1. Carey Price: Like his counterpart, Tim Thomas, Price has been outstanding the past two games. Despite
many Boston fans’ insistence the refs won Game 6 for the Habs, the real hero was Price, who made 31 saves and played brilliantly under the crucible of the pressure of elimination by his team’s most-hated rival.
2. Create turnovers: Montreal doesn’t buzz around the opponents’ zone that often, so the Habs need to create turnovers in the offensive and neutral zones and turn those into odd-man advantages. Montreal has done a great job of this in the series, and to win tonight, it will need to do the same.
3. Know history: The Canadiens are the game’s most storied franchise and have owned the Bruins in the post-season. That in itself should inspire confidence – not to mention the fact the Bruins can’t seem to win big games.
Why Boston wins …
The Bruins learned from the debacles of the last two years, and they now appear to love playing with their backs against the wall. They know Claude Julien loses his job with a first-round playoff exit, especially to Montreal, and they will win for him. Plus, they really are the more talented team and they are playing at home.
Why Montreal wins …
Carey Price is a guy who can steal a game and has been great in the last three games. The Habs have history on their side and have already won two games in Boston in the playoffs. Finally, Mike Cammalleri has been the best player in the series, and is a proven big-game performer.
My pick …
Maybe it’s a little hometown bias, but the fact remains Boston is the better team and they are playing at home. I think the power play finally breaks through tonight and the B’s escape with a 3-2 win in another classic battle. I won’t be shocked if the Habs skate out of Boston with the win, but I’m going with the Bruins.