Tonight is one of the greatest nights in sports – a Game 7. And it is not just any Game 7 – it is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It is the ultimate in pressure, the ultimate in excitement, the ultimate in stress, the ultimate in tension. For one team, it will be a crowning achievement and the accomplishment of a lifetime goal; for the other, a devastating loss that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
I picked the Bruins to reach the Stanley Cup final way back in September; however, I did pick them to lose in 6 games to the Detroit Red Wings. That being said, I love the Bruins in Game 7 tonight. Here’s why:
1. The Bruins are fantastic under pressure: Whenever Boston has needed to win a game this season, they have. They won regular-season games when people thought they were done, they won Games 3 and 4 in Montreal and Game 7 in Boston; they won Games 2, 3 and 7 against Tampa Bay; they won games 3, 4, and 6 in the final. I have said all year that this is a team that fights for each other and their coach, and that continues tonight.
2. Tim Thomas: After struggling in Games 1 and 2 against Montreal, Thomas has played like the Vezina-winning goalie he is. He has a 2.06 goals against average, a .937 save percentage, a 15-9 record, and three shutouts in the postseason. He will win the Conn Smythe Award win or lose (or he should), but I do not think there is any chance Thomas melts down in this game.
3. Will: The Bruins fight more than any team in the league. From Patrice Bergeron to Shawn Thornton to Zdeno Chara to Johnny Boychuk to Thomas, the players on this team have shown the will to win. Even in the games Boston has lost in this series, it has not been for a lack of effort. In a one-game situation, I will take the team that wants to fight for it every time.
4. Milan Lucic: He has been quiet for most of the postseason, but has started to show signs of being himself in the final. He was great in games 3, 4 and 6, and I am thinking one final game in his hometown will give Lucic the extra motivation to have his best game of the playoffs.
5. The Canucks defense is thin/banged up: Aaron Rome is suspended, Dan Hamhuis is out, and Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts are banged up enough that they are a game-time decision (they will both play in my opinion). Not to mention that Kevin Bieksa has taken a physical beating (both from hitting and getting hit) in this series, and Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff have looked like they have had enough.
6. Shawn Thornton: The Bruins are 3-1 in this series when Thornton plays. He won’t score, but he will lay some heavy hits (7 big hits in just over 10 minutes of ice in Game 6), provide leadership, and be the heart and soul of the team. He has won a Cup (with Anaheim) and knows what it takes to succeed in the big dance.
7. Dennis Seidenberg: Oh how the 2010 playoffs might have been different if Seidenberg had not been out with an injury. The man has been a beats in the postseason, averaging a team-high 27:56 of ice time, a team-high 60 blocked shots, and 51 hits (fourth on the team). He has been a physical presence, has been matched with the opposition’s top line, and has formed a dynamic pairing with Chara.
8. The Bruins have been able to shut down the Sedins: Maybe this changes in Game 7, but so far, the Bruins (especially Seidenberg and Chara, see above) have been able to control the immensely-talented twins. Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Tomas Kaberle, and Adam McQuaid will see time against them tonight, as Vancouver has the last change, but they also had the last change in Games 1, 2, and 5, and the Sedins were held in check in those games as well.
9. Michael Ryder: I have blasted this guy time and time again, but he has been huge in the playoffs. He has always come up big in the postseason (he was great in the Montreal series), and I think he scores at least one tonight. He’s the J.D. Drew of the Bruins – frustrating during the season but money in clutch time.
10. Claude Julien: Another guy I have ripped over and over, Julien’s players believe in him and fight for him. They have always played well whenever their coach is threatened, and they obviously will do anything for him. There would be no better way to reward their coach for his loyalty to them and show their gratitude for him than to play the best game of their lives tonight.
11. Patrice Bergeron: The best two-way player and face-off man the Bruins have, Bergeron has been fantatsic defensively
and a phsyical presence. He does all the little things that help a team win, but tonight, he scores. He is overdue.
12. Mark Recchi: This is his last game, win or lose, and there is no way his teammates are not going to give their best effort so he goes out a winner. As said before, this team fights for one another, and there is not a more respected player in the Bruins’ locker room than Recchi.
Prediction: Game 7’s are incredibly hard to predict, as any one bounce can win the game. The first goal will be huge, as both teams have been fantastic when scoring first. My thought is Boston scores first (Ryder), Thomas plays great, Bergeron scores at least one, and Krejci nets the game-winner in a 4-2 Boston victory.
This has been a great series on and off the ice, and has likely brought in thousands upon thousands of new fans — especially in Boston. Games 1 to 6 have been filled with drama, excitement, and tension, and Game 7 will be multiplied by 1000. Have fun, enjoy the game, and hope for the best!
Topics: Aaron Rome, Adam McQuaid, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Game 7, Kevin Bieksa, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton, Stanley Cup, Tim Thomas, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara