BOSTON - Each game of this Atlantic Division final has had its own particular characteristics: low scoring, high scoring, lots of penalties, no penalties, great goaltending, questionable goaltending, stars going invisible, stars delivering wins.
Game 7 Wednesday night between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will put the final exclamation point on the 34th playoff meeting between these franchises.
The winner will advance to play the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final with Game 1 likely to be played Saturday afternoon in either Montreal or Boston.
About the only predictable thing Wednesday morning was the cliches flying around.
Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher was asked about his favourite cliche.
“I believe in all the cliches. I like them all,” he said. “Do or die.”
This will be the ninth Game 7 for Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (the Bruins are 4-4 in those) games and he said he still gets a little nervous.
“I’m happy to hear that because I’m pretty nervous, too,” said Gallagher, who will be playing his first Game 7. “Obviously, it’s exciting. I’m sure once the puck drops it’ll be a normal feeling. It’s exciting right now. You grow up watching Game 7s and you see the intensity and the emotion on the players’ faces. To be a part of that tonight is going to be pretty cool.”
The Canadiens are coming off a strong 4-0 win in Game 6 to avoid elimination. They relied on their speed and the goaltending of Carey Price for the win and will be looking to pick up where they left off.
They also seemed to be a bit fired up from what they feel is the lack of respect they’ve been getting from the Bruins. Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton sprayed Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban with water from the bench during play late in Game 5 and Bruins winger Milan Lucic flexed his biceps at Subban.
It has made for some good off-day chatter. The Canadiens talked after Game 6 about looking forward to silencing the Bruins fans in TD Garden.
“You don’t need to change your game tonight because it’s Game 7. The game is still the same,” said Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges. “The ice sheet didn’t get any bigger, the lines are still in the same place. It’s about going out there and doing your job, giving everything you’ve got, and you don’t have to go outside of that.”
“Nothing needs to be said. We all know what’s at stake,” said Gallagher. “Just show up, treat it like we have all year. We don’t need to do anything that hasn’t got you to this point. We know what makes us successful, we know individually what makes us good players. You just have to do that and show up for your teammates and play your best game.”
The Bruins, who won Games 4 and 5 to put the Canadiens on the brink of elimination, were outmatched by the Habs in Game 6.
“Pretty much from the last game every part of our game has got to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
HEAR AND THERE
It’s interesting to note the NHL decided to have the game officiated by the Dave Jackson-Dan O’Rourke tandem that also worked Game 2 of the series. In that game, Jackson gave Bruins coach Claude Julien an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Julien talked after the game about all the “crap” his team had to battle through to get the win ... Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, working his way back from a knee injury, skated pretty vigourously Thursday morning. When asked if he might play, Julien paused before saying, “I don’t think so. I’d be very surprised” ... Julien said after Game 6 he expected his team to win Game 7. He was asked Thursday what gave him the confidence to say that. “Well, I don’t think you’d expect me to say the other thing, do you? I expect us to win, simple as that” ... The Bell Centre is sold out in Montreal tonight for a viewing party of Game 7. “It’s pretty cool I guess. I probably shouldn’t be surprised but I still am,” said Gallagher. “It’s just the passion that comes with the Montreal Canadiens fans. Obviously we care a lot in this room, but they care a lot as well about the logo and the history and everything that comes with it.”