It has come down to this. Game 7. The last one in a rather tough series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. If it's of any help, history is on the Habs side. The teams have met for seven game 7s all time and Montreal has won five of them. In addition, the Bruins have lost every single time they have been down in a series by 2-0. While the latter stats means nothing in this series as the Bruins erased that deficit with 3 consecutive wins, history is still with the Canadiens. The pressure however is equally on both teams and while some will claim the momentum is with Montreal, there is no momentum at this point as any team can take it away with the more desperate, the better prepared team prevailing after tonight.
There was no morning skate held for either team. Understandably. Two games, back to back, in a playoff series, and especially when they are game 6 and game 7, you don't need much practice at this point and simply have to rely on using the preparations you have made throughout the series and show up in the game. As coach Martin said earlier today: "You rely on the people that you have and it's a matter of keeping good composure and playing with emotions, controlled emotions."
The positive thing for Montreal was the fact that their leaders and veterans held their ground last night. They stood up. Carey Price was excellent and improved his series numbers to 1.85 GAA and a .942 SV%. The Habs also took advantage of their powerplay opportunities with the game winner coming from the goal mouth in the image of the two goals scored by the Bruins in game 5. Price, who has been in a game 7 against the Bruins in his career, and came out of it with a victory said: "It's good to win, but we will get on a bus in a little while and we have to do it all over again in Boston." Indeed, the Habs have to do it all over again tonight if they want to keep their post-season alive and the Bruins will be matching that desperation, that intensity if they want to keep going as well.
The prevalent sentiment among all the players is the fact that it's game 7 and it's an exciting time to be a hockey player. "As a hockey player, you love these situations and wanna be a part of it", said Brent Sopel who knows the pressure of the series, being part of the cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks last year. Are the Canadiens getting to used to elimination games? "Game 7 is never easy, lots of pressure", said Travis Moen, "It's a pretty intense time of the year and we thrive on that".
Michael Cammalleri who has been a force with the Canadiens offensively wasn't ready yet to strat praising his teammates for the work they did in game 6: "We've got a big game coming up, and it's still the first round of the playoffs. Let's keep all the complimenting each other to a minimum right now and worry about getting better." Cammalleri should know, he has managed to accumulated key points with the Canadiens since his arrival, 28 points in 25 playoff games to be exact and every time he has scored the first goal in a playoff game for the Habs, his team has come out victorious. A record he maintained last night.
Montreal will have to make a better effort in 5v5 as the Bruins felt that they were stronger and controlled the game better than the Habs. As Bruins forward Dr. Mark Recchi said, "We have to take that positive and go home. We'll have our home crowd and it'll be exciting. We've been in this before. We have to stay focused, stay relaxed and go from there." It will be important for the Habs to try and put as many pucks as possible on Tim Thomas, they were outshot in last night's game 31-26.
James Wisniewski will be a game time decision for the Habs and did acocmpany the team to Boston. David Desharnais, as confirmed yesterday, should be out for 4-6 weeks with a strained knee. If Wisniewski is back, no word has been given on who will end up in the press-gallery, whether it will be Mara, who led the team with 4 hits last night and made his presence felt, or Yannick Weber who can always be a handy point-man on powerplays.
At the end of the day, tt will all come down to this: "They wanna win and we wanna win" - Brent Sopel
P.S. If Montreal wins tonight, they will go on to face the Washington Capitals in the second round of the series and if the Boston Bruins take the game, they will be facing the Philadelphia Flyers who managed to eliminate the Buffalo Sabres in game 7 last night.