BOSTON — It’s safe to say that its more than just a season on the line for the Bruins tonight in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For the past four years, the Bruins season has been on the line during the first and second rounds with a chance to advance to the next round — against the Canadiens (2008, 2011), Flyers (last season) and Hurricanes (2009) — in Game 7. Their haunted history in Game 7 was well documented before their win against the Habs and its fair to say that it’s still pretty well documented now.
But unlike their matchups with the Habs, Flyers and ‘Canes, the Bruins are now playing for a chance to compete for Lord’s Stanley Cup, something that they haven’t done since 1990.
The importance of this game can’t be stressed enough and both locker rooms know that. Tampa, themselves, are playing for a chance to compete in the Cup finals since their championship season in 2004.
On the other hand, the Bruins still have a little of that haunted playoff history since that last Stanley Cup appearance 21 years ago. However, they’ve been able to overcome some adversity this year — as seen against Montreal and for that matter in Game 5 Monday — thanks in part to a new locker room atmosphere with Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly providing some new blood.
But no one can forget that Tampa too has played in a Game 7 this year defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after trailing three games to one. And with that, both teams will look to take advantage tonight having already played in a Game 7 this season.
“I think it helps both teams,” Peverley said about the importance of Game 7. “Both teams have been in this situation and they’re going to be able to help stress the importance of this matchup tonight. They won their game and we won our game so obviously there’s much more at stake tonight.”
Though head coach Claude Julien didn’t make comparisons on the importance of this Game 7 in the conference finals, he did have one small piece of advice for his squad.
“I think Game 7’s are Game 7’s, whether it’s in the first round or the third round,” the Bruins bench boss said after the morning skate today. “There’s an opportunity here to move on to the next round; so that to me is what Game 7’s represent no matter where you are in the playoffs.
“Our guys just have to enjoy this whole process,” Julien added. “There’s 27 teams right now that would love to have the opportunity that we have in the playoffs right now. This is one of those days where I think if you don’t enjoy the moment then you’re wasting a pretty precious day.”
With a raucous crowd expected at TD Garden tonight, the Bruins want to make sure that they don’t provide this fanbase with another disappointing exit.
“We know what’s at stake tonight,” forward Milan Lucic said. “It’s a great opportunity for us [to advance] and hopefully we don’t pass it up.”
“This is the opportunity that we have to play in front of our own fan. And when you have the choice of saying if you’d rather be in Tampa or at home, I think it’s pretty obvious which one we’ll pick,” Julien added. “This is what you fight for all season long — home ice advantage in the playoffs — and this is the opportunity that is given to us. It worked for us in our favor against Montreal, and we plan on making it work again in our favor today.”