Bruins Win Game 7 Against the Hurricanes If…

No franchise in the NHL has played in more Game 7’s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Boston Bruins. After their 5-2 Game 6 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at the TD Garden, the Black and Gold evened their best-of-seven series at 3-3, setting up the winner-take-all Game 7 late Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, North Carolina. It will be Boston’s 29th all-time Game 7.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes (The Hockey Writers)

In their previous 28 Game 7’s, the Bruins own a 15-13 record, but this Game 7 is going to be different than the previous six Game 7’s, which were all played at home. This one will be on the road at PNC Arena in Carolina, a place that Boston is 0-4 at this season, including all three losses in the series. The last Game 7 road victory for Boston? That was the 2011 Stanley Cup Final when they ended a 39-year championship drought with a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

If the Bruins are going to beat the Hurricanes for the first time this season in the state of North Carolina, they will need a lot to go their way against a team that has had their number this season.

They Survive the First Period Onslaught from Carolina

In Games 2 and 5 in Carolina, the Bruins dug themselves a 2-0 first-period deficit that they were not able to work their way out of. In both games, they knew they were going to get the best that the Hurricanes have in the opening 20 minutes and they failed to avoid chasing goals early in the game.

The Bruins had chances to get ahead on the scoreboard in both games, only to be denied time and time again. Like in previous seasons, Boston is not built to battle back from a multi-goal deficit on the road, and digging themselves a hole in Game 7, especially in the first period would be tough to climb out of. The Black and Gold need to get to the end of the first period at least tied, if not be in the lead. All the pressure is on Carolina to advance.

Jeremy Swayman Turns in Another Game 6 Performance

After playing a shaky Game 5 where he allowed a questionable first-period goal when the Bruins really could have used a save, Jeremy Swayman was more than up to the challenge in a win or go home Game 6 Thursday night. He turned back 23 of the 25 Hurricanes’ shots and was not rattled after allowing a goal.

Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Andrei Svechnikov sliced the Bruins’ 2-0 lead in half just 3:24 into the third period, but Swayman shook off the effects of allowing the goal and stopped everything else thrown at him except for a late power-play goal that cut the deficit to 5-2 with just 2:30 remaining. He was up to the challenge for the full 60 minutes and will have to be again Saturday, something he seemed ready for after his Game 6 victory.

“It’s a dream come true. I can’t wait,” Swayman said about playing in a Game 7.

He will have to be ready as the one start in Carolina in Game 5, he allowed four goals on 37 shots, something that can’t happen again in Game 7.

Secondary Scoring Continues

There have been too many times that the Bruins rely on offense from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. That’s when they fall into trouble, especially in the playoffs. In Game 6, Marchand opened the scoring 44 seconds into the second period, but after that, it was all secondary scoring.

Related: Bruins Need to Maintain Balanced Lineup to Win Game 7

Goals from Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Derek Forbort, and Curtis Lazar (empty-net) supplied enough offense to force Game 7. There have been times in this series where Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have carried the Bruins to a win, but it can’t happen every night. If Boston is going to pull the upset of the Metropolitan Division winners on the road in Game 7, they will need more in the way of secondary scoring.

Boston Plays Smart and Tough in Defensive Zone

This might be considered a no-brainer, but looking back at the three previous games in Carolina this series, this has been a big issue for coach Bruce Cassidy and his team. Failure to clear pucks from the zone has led to Hurricanes’ goals and golden scoring opportunities. This has happened at both even strength and shorthanded and the defensive unit is not alone in this.

Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the Boston Bruins
Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pastrnak failed to get a puck out of the zone in Game 2 in the first period which led to a Carolina goal, then in Game 5, Taylor Hall and Haula were out of position, and failed to make a play on a loose puck and it was turned into a goal by Jaccob Slavin that Swayman would have liked to have back. Another issue has been clearing pucks shorthanded. Multiple times they have failed to send the puck the length of the ice and allowed the Hurricanes to keep the pressure on. Sooner or later, that is going to burn them and it did in Game 5.

“There was a stretch where we weren’t very good in front of him – mismanaged some pucks,” said Cassidy about the defense in front of Swayman following Game 5.

The Bruins will have to be better in their defensive end and clear pucks when they have a chance. If not, it could be a long afternoon for them.

Win or Go Home

In the end, it’s going to be all hands on deck for the Bruins in Game 7. They will need a similar effort they got in Game 6 from everyone if they are going to win a game at a place where they have failed to do so all season long. Nothing short of an all-hands on deck is going to be needed to advance to the Second Round and avoid beginning their offseason following the game.

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