Who Wins Game 7?

BRUINS WIN
A COIN FLIP

B's will reward Julien's confidence

Barboza By Scott Barboza
ESPNBoston.com
Archive

Claude Julien ended his postgame remarks following the Bruins' Game 6 loss saying he "expects" his team to win Game 7. While it's not as emphatic as Mark Messier's guarantee in 1994, Julien's declaration was not haughty and came from a place of conviction. It's a conviction in his system and the belief his players will do all the things they know how to do and have done -- in spurts -- during their series with Les Habitants.

It also comes from knowledge that Julien's team has been there and done that. Down 0-2 in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals? No problem. Heck, the Bruins needed to MacGyver their way out of an 0-2 hole just to get past the Canadiens in the first round that season. Even within Game 7s, the Bruins have shown mettle, erasing Toronto's three-goal, third-period advantage to win their first-round series last year.

But history doesn't dictate the game at hand. What the Bruins need most in Game 7 is representative efforts from David Krejci (who has yet to score a goal in seven career Game 7s and this entire postseason) and Brad Marchand (who has a goose egg in the goal column, as well, through 11 playoff games). Some of Krejci's woes fall on Milan Lucic, who has had myriad chances to finish around the net but has not. Still, when Krejci is at his most effective, he is capable of winning entry into the zone on his own, creating scoring chances for his wingers with his skill. That needs to happen more regularly in Game 7.

For Marchand, who failed to record a single point against Detroit in the first round, one of the Bruins' most productive postseason players in recent memory (19 points in 25 games in 2011) needs to generate shots off the rush, taking advantage of his deceptive wrist shot release. Marchand also needs to bring his sandpaper, dare I say, playing his role as pest.

While the Bruins defense had done a good job of keeping Max Pacioretty in check early in the series, they cannot let the U.S. Olympian hurt them through the neutral zone. As always, Montreal's team speed poses trouble for Bruins defensemen, so the forwards need to bring the back-checking game as well.

Then there's always the goaltender. At times, Tuukka Rask has been the better goaltender in the series; other times, it's been Carey Price. Simply stated, on Wednesday night, Rask needs to be better than Price.

Scott Barboza covers high school sports and the Bruins for ESPN Boston.

Canadiens give themselves a chance

Custance By Craig Custance
ESPN.com
Archive

The Bruins should win Game 7. They're the better team. They're at home. They have more experience in these situations, and this group has shown a propensity for bouncing back from Game 6 losses.

But it's far from a lock. As good as the Bruins are against the rest of the league, the Canadiens bring out their worst. Tuukka Rask becomes average, with a save percentage in this series of .910 compared to his career playoff save percentage of .931. Making it worse, the guy on the other side of the ice, Carey Price, is exactly in line with Rask's career numbers. His save percentage against the Bruins this series? .931. Including the Olympics, Price has been lights-out in elimination games -- allowing just one goal in four of them this year. That's a bad sign for Boston.

The Bruins had targeted and contained Max Pacioretty effectively early in this series, but his confidence is building. On Saturday morning before Game 5, he patiently answered every question about his struggles against the Bruins. He faced it, said he had to relax and not be quite so trigger-happy. Now, the production is coming. He's registered a goal and two assists in his past two games, and the focus on players struggling to produce has turned elsewhere. Like to David Krejci.

And then there's P.K. Subban, making more of an impact on this series than any other defenseman. He wants the puck in these situations, like he did in the final minutes of Game 5, jumping up and down before scoring. This is when reputations are created and Subban wants this moment.

The Bruins have controlled possession in this series, controlling 57.5 percent of the shot attempts at even strength. Over the long haul, that typically works out in the favor of the team with that advantage. This is no longer the long haul. It's one game. Game 7. At best for the Bruins, a coin toss.

Craig Custance covers the NHL for ESPN Insider.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.