A Game 7 in any sport is one of the most exciting games to play in and to watch — but when you're the Bruins and you just blew a 3-0 series lead, you have to ask yourself if Game 7 against the Flyers on Friday night will be seventh hell or seventh heaven?
The Bruins have proven to be an inconsistent team all season, but now they have become streaky at the wrong time, winning the first three games of this Eastern Conference semifinals series and then losing the last three.
"We haven't played as good hockey in the last three as we did in the first three, and that's the difference," said goaltender Tuukka Rask (25 saves) after the game.
While it's great that the Finnish rookie, who kept his team in Game 6, can point out the obvious, what about the mystery that is this Bruins team? For three quarters of the season, they were a lackluster team that couldn't live up to its potential. Then, after reaching the low point of their season in a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh on March 18, the B's dug deep and found their game.
The Bruins showed heart, desire and skill down the stretch, including in their first-round win over the Sabres and for the first three games of this series. But during parts of Game 4, throughout all of Game 5 and then during intervals in Game 6, the Black and Gold looked disinterested — or maybe they were looking ahead to St. Catherine's Street or Pittsburgh.
They won't see the latter, since Montreal took care of the Penguins in its own Game 7 on Wednesday night, but if the Black and Gold can find their mojo again in Game 7 Friday, they will face the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.
There were good signs to take from Game 6, and one of them is that the Bruins scored their first goal since Mark Recchi tied Game 4 with 31 ticks left on the clock in regulation, forcing overtime before Simon Gagne scored the game-winner with 5:20 left in the extra frame. With 60 seconds left on Wednesday, Milan Lucic buried one past Michael Leighton from right in front, and that's what the Bruins will need more of if they are to light the lamp with more frequency. They had a solid effort, but there needs to be more net presence.
"I am not going to criticize the players' effort, but we have to find a way to score goals," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "We have to stay out of the [penalty] box; there were a couple of tough penalties, but we were disciplined."
Julien also hinted at possible lineup changes for Friday's deciding game.
"That's our job — to figure it out," he said. "[Brad] Marchand has been in the AHL all season and has not played in a month and a half. We have to find ways to score earlier."
Indeed, they do — and they have to find a way to finish what they started and save themselves from becoming the third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. They don't want to miss out on what would be the first conference final between the Bruins and Habs since 1979.
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