No matter what happens tonight, a back and forth series between two of the fiercest rivals in sports will end. The Montreal Canadiens hope they can shock the President Trophy-winning Boston Bruins on their home ice and move on to the Conference Semi-Finals.
Momentum has not really lasted in this series as only Boston has won back to back games, in Games 4 and 5 of the series. Montreal has it’s work cut out for them as despite the back and forth play in the series, the Bruins were the best team in the league and have a ton of playoff experience.
Since 2004, this will be the fourth Game 7 between the two teams and it will be the sixth overall for the Canadiens who have several carryovers from these teams. From veterans Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov to Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban who – believe it or not – is already playing in his fourth Game 7.
A lot of people are talking about the Bruins experience in Game 7’s and how they have the experience to settle down in this climate. However, the Canadiens have most key contributors who played in 2011’s Game 7 between the same two teams and many other carry overs from 2010’s two Game 7’s.
The Canadiens may be underdogs, but it’s not because of a lack of experience.
There are no lineup changes expected from either team, however there are rumblings surrounding Dennis Seidenberg who skated and has some people expecting a surprise return. A return, it should be said, that would surprise even Claude Julien if we are to take his morning statements at face value (we shouldn’t).
Both teams – and some of the media covering them – are engaging in back and forth battles but what it comes down to is what happens on the ice. The Bruins stepped up when they needed to in Game 5 (going back to Montreal down 3-2 was not an option) and the Canadiens did the same in Game 6.
Whoever wants it more tonight will come away with the win and a battle with the New York Rangers (and former Canadiens Game 7 hero Dominic Moore).
There has been a lot said about the first goal in the hockey game but really, I think this may be the game that breaks the cycle. The first goal won’t be as important as the response from both teams following it.
Both TD Garden and the Bell Centre will be full and loud. One team will end tonight with their hopes and expectations in tact. The other team – and its fanbase – will be left wondering what might have been.
It should be a great game. Enjoy it.