Bruins, Capitals Trying to Keep Game 7 Routine as Normal as Possible Despite Stakes Involved

Bruins, Capitals Trying to Keep Game 7 Routine as Normal as Possible Despite Stakes InvolvedBOSTON –- With their seventh Game 7 in the last five years, this kind of climactic showdown has become almost commonplace for the Bruins.

Maybe that helps explain why the Bruins are doing their best to make the hours leading up to Wednesday's Game 7 with Washington as similar to every other game day as possible.

"Everything's the same," Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon said after the club's morning skate. "I look at it as just another game, just a little bit more riding on the line. So I take it the same way, eat the same food, take the same nap and get to the rink and prepare."

Zanon is playing in his first Game 7 in the NHL, but he does have plenty of experience in seventh games in the American Hockey League.

"A little bit of both [excitement and nervousness]," Zanon said. "I think it's more of an excited nervous to be in this situation. I've played in a bunch of Game 7s in the minors, so it's not completely new. It's just an excited feeling. You want to get the game going, get it started to see what's going to happen.

"My first year when I won the Calder Cup, we played Game 7 in the first series," Zanon added of his title run with Milwaukee in 2004. "It was a nail-biter. I think we won in OT. After that we basically ended up spanking everybody else, so that kind of getting our feet wet, getting in there and then getting comfortable."

Zanon came to Boston in a deal with Minnesota at the trade deadline and is playing in his first playoff series since 2008, but most of his new teammates have even fresher memories of Game 7s after the Bruins won three of them last year en route to the Cup.

That experience has helped them keep things in perspective as they attempt to maintain their usual routine despite the stakes involved in Wednesday's game.

"Same thing I've done for the last 600 or 700-plus games that I've played," Bruins center Chris Kelly said when asked what he planned to do on Wednesday before the game. "The exact same thing –- skate, eat, nap, come back."

"Same as it was the day before," Kelly added of how he felt Wednesday morning. "Obviously, you can't get too high or too low in these situations. I think being through these types of games in hockey throughout our lives is a good thing. I woke up ready to come to the rink and skate this morning and do all the fun things that I do every other day when I come in the rink."

The sentiment was similar in the Washington locker room, where the Capitals haven't had as much success in Game 7s. They've lost their last two in 2009 and 2010 and are just 2-7 overall in franchise history in seventh games. They've won three of six games in this series, though, so they'll try to approach Game 7 in the same manner.

"You keep your same routine," Washington forward Jason Chimera said. "You've been playing for a lot of years, you can't change much. You've got to do what comes natural to you. I know it's a big game, but you have approach it the same way, try to relax. You can't let your heart get racing too much out there or else you'll make mistakes. There's got to be a sense of calmness about you. You've got to take your day the same as always."

Chimera has played in just one NHL Game 7, but as the father of two young children, he has other experiences that reinforce the value of maintaining a routine.

"You treat it the same as usual," Chimera said. "Our bodies are so [used to] routine now with what we do, so I think it's just used to doing the same thing. It's like your kids, if your kids get off routine you're all out of whack, so you keep the same routine. We're a bunch of kids playing a game, so you have to keep routine."

Still, like kids on Christmas morning, even veteran NHLers can't escape the excitement of a Game 7 altogether.

"This is a great opportunity," Kelly said. "I think that's how you should look at it. This is an opportunity that a lot of people don't get a chance to take advantage of or be part of. I never had the opportunity to play in a Game 7 until I got here last year and that was one of those things that I remember thinking going against Montreal. For one, I got to play the Montreal Canadians in the playoffs, which was something that was pretty neat, and then I got to play a Game 7. I didn't think I'd get to play three of them, but this is just a great opportunity."

A great opportunity, but also a familiar one. With their fifth Game 7 in their last six playoff series, playing seventh games is actually becoming rather routine for the Bruins.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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