Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic celebrate Horton's series-winning OT goal agaist Montreal in game 7 of Round 1 of this year's playoffs. (Photo courtsy of bleacherreprt.com)

Game 7, Tampa Bay at Boston: A Great Night For Hockey

One of the greatest moments in all of sports happens tonight: Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff series. This Game 7 is second on the list of biggest Game 7 possibilities, surpassed only by a Stanley Cup final Game 7.

Things will be rocking inside and outside TD Garden tonight, as fans will pack the arena as well as the surrounding cars and restaurants. The atmosphere is something that should be worth taking in, as it only happens once in a great while. Boston, for example, has not been in a Game 7 of the conference finals since 1988 (a 6-2 win over New Jersey at the real Garden).

Although anything goes in a Game 7, there are a few things each team should focus on as they prepare to battle tonight.

Three things Boston must do to win …

1. Stay out of the penalty box: Tampa Bay scored three power play goals in Game 6, and Boston can ill-afford to give the skilled Lightning players multiple opportunities with the man advantage. Even should they kill off the penalties (Boston had killed 16 of 18 heading into Game 6), it tires Boston’s better players.

2. Stay aggressive: Boston tends to get a bit passive with the lead, so it is imperative they continue to force the play to Tampa if they get the lead. Obviously, they will attack if they are trailing.

3. Make better defensive decisions: Johnny Boychuk has made mistake after mistake in this series, most notably his horrible decision to pinch in Game 6 that led to Martin St. Louis’ eventual game-winner – just moments after Boston had cut Tampa’s lead to a goal. The Bruins can only pinch in situations when they can clearly make the play along the wall.

Three things Tampa Bay must do to win …

1. Be aggressive as possible: Tampa is at its best when it goes after Boston’s defensemen and aggressively attacks the neutral and offensive zones. Other than Zdeno Chara and maybe Dennis Seidenberg, Boston’s other defensemen have struggled with the aggressive Tampa forwards.

2. Get better play from Dwayne Roloson: Tampa’s goalie has struggled in three straight starts, but he is 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .968 save percentage in two career Game 7s.

3. The stars need to play big: St. Louis finally broke out in Game 6, scoring two goals and assisting on another. Watch out for Simon Gagne, who has killed the Bruins in the past.

Five Interesting facts …

  • Tonight’s game is the latest date on which the Bruins have ever played a game. Prior to this, the latest they had played was May 26, 1988 in game 4 of the Stanley Cup final versus Edmonton.
  • Boston is 10-10 as a franchise in Game 7s. They are 1-3 under Claude Julien, winning the opening g round against Montreal but losing last year’s home game with Philadelphia.
  • David Krejci’s hat trick was the first playoff trick by a Bruin since Cam Neely in 1991.
  • Roloson is 4-0 in elimination games this playoffs, going 3-0 as Tampa rallied from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh, and winning Game 6 Wednesday night.
  • Tampa Bay is 9-2 when scoring the first goal in this year’s playoffs.

Four role players who could play a starring role tonight …

Sean Bergenheim may not be a role player anymore, as he has netted 9 goals in the postseason and has played well in this series.

Mattias Ohlund is not known for his scoring, but he does have a goal and 2 assists in five career Game 7s.

Mark Recchi has only seven points in the postseason, but has played better since Patrice Bergeron’s return. He has 3 goals and 4 assists in nine career Game 7s.

Rich Peverley is a guy who s done a little of everything in the postseason for Boston. He’s a plus-5 with 2 goals and 6 assists, and had an assist in the Game 7 win over Montreal.

Should it GO to OT …

Boston has a 47-62-3 record in 112 playoff overtimes, going 4-0 this season. Six Bruins have OT game-winners in their career: Patrice Bergeron (April 9, 2004 vs. Montreal), Nathan Horton (April 23, 2011 vs. Montreal and April 27, 2011 vs. Montreal), Tomas Kaberle (April 14, 2003 vs. Philadelphia with Toronto), David Krejci (May 2, 2011 vs. Philadelphia), Mark Recchi (April 16, 2003 vs. Toronto with Philadlephia), and Michael Ryder (April 24, 2006 vs. Carolina with Montreal, and April 21, 2011 vs. Montreal).

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Tags: Boston Bruins David Krejci Dennis Seidenberg Dwayne Roloson Game 7 Johnny Boychuk Mark Recchi Mattias Ohlund Michael Ryder Milan Lucic Nathan Horton Patrice Bergeron Rich Peverley Sean Bergenheim Tampa Bay Lightning Tim Thomas Tomas Kaberle Zdeno Chara

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