The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will need seven games to settle their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series, because of course they do. Did anyone really expect anything else from these longtime rivals?
The Habs forced Game 7 with their one-sided 4-0 win over the Bruins on Monday night in Montreal. The series now shifts back to Boston, where the teams will face off Wednesday night in a winner-take-all battle at TD Garden.
There’s a lot on the line for both teams, but the most pressure might fall on the Bruins. They won the Presidents’ Trophy. They were the best team in the NHL almost all season long. Now they must fight for their lives just to escape the second round, and it won’t be easy.
Here are the three ways the Bruins can win Game 7.
1. Score the first goal
Simple, right? The Bruins are built to play with a lead, but that’s been easier said than done in this series. The team that’s scored first has won all six games, which makes getting on the board early of the utmost importance.
The Bruins are 6-0 during the playoffs when scoring the first goal, and they have averaged 3.5 tallies in those contests. That was the recipe for success all season, as the Bruins went 41-6-2 when scoring first. Oh, and the team that scores first in Game 7 is 113-40 all-time.
2. Tuukka Rask might need to steal one
The Bruins goalie hasn’t been awful in this series, but he hasn’t been his stellar, shutdown self, either. Granted, six of the 16 goals Rask has allowed have been on the power play, but he has yet to steal a game with a sensational effort. If the Bruins can’t contain the speedy Habs, Rask must bail out his team.
Rask is just 1-1 with a .855 save percentage and a 3.87 goals against average in two career Game 7s. That probably won’t be good enough against Montreal. So this is a big game for Rask, whom the Bruins better hope believes he has something to prove.
3. First line must do something
The David Krejci line has combined for 16 points in 11 playoff games this spring. That seems like a lot, but it’s one case where stats defy what the eyes have seen. It feels like the B’s have received next to nothing out of their top line. That has been even more prevalent against Montreal, as the first line has been shut down for just about the entire series.
The silver lining might be that the Krejci line had its best outing of the series in Game 6, and the Bruins hope they can build off that in Game 7. But at a certain point, zone time and chances have to turn into goals. If that doesn’t happen Wednesday and the Bruins lose, the top line must shoulder much of the blame.
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