Game 7: Win or Go Home

Can you see the Loge??

Can you spot the Loge 19 crew?

Here we are, Game 7 tonight of the Eastern Conference semi-finals at The Boston Garden. This is why the Bruins fought all year to keep their top spot in the East. To be rewarded with home ice for a decisive game 7 that will decide who moves on to face the Penguins and who has to admit the old cliche “we just didn’t get it done”.

The easy favorite tonight is the Boston Bruins. They have won two games in a row; a strong 4-0 home win against Carolina in game 5 and a resilient 4-2 road win over Carolina and their tailgate-happy fans. The Bruins have home ice and 17,000+ screaming fans behind them while Carolina will be settling for a few red shirts and some pathetic Whalers fans that still think that their rivalry with the Bruins lingers.

I know I made the comparison to the 2004 Yankees-Red Sox, when Kevin Millar made the famous “don’t let us win this game’ speech in my game 6 preview . However this is NOT the same situation,  series, game 7 or team that the Red Sox were waltzing into game 7 at Yankee Stadium against (h/t to Cameron Frye for the intial reference).

First, the Hurricanes are not crippled by three losses in a row. Yes, they have lost two in a row but that is nothing for a team that twice climbed back from behind in their first round series against the NJ Devils,  the #2 team in the East, and ultimately pulled off an amazing regulation win in game 7 when trailing 2-3 with less than 2 minutes left. Second, the last 6 games are already out of the Hurricanes heads. These guys have shorter memories than a gold fish. They know this is do-or-die and nothing in the past is relevant anymore. Sure there is momentum, but momentum can last about as long as it takes Staal to come down the right side and snipe low-toe on Thomas. Third, this team is full of playoff vets. They have been here before. As I notes in the series preview, they have 10 players that have won a Stanley Cup! That is huge in games like these. When they last won the Cup in 2006 they played two game sevens on their road to the Cup; against the Sabres in the Eastern Conference finals and against the Oilers in the Stanley Cup finals. That is some great experience to draw on. Fourth, they have Cam Ward. The Saskatoon native is a great playoff goalie and a former Conn Smythe trophy winner. All it takes is one strong game from your goalie in a game like this.

With all that said, I will stick with my game 6 preview and say that this series is over. The Bruins will win this game 4-1 as long as Claude gets on his internet box, types in www.loge19.com and reads these 4 keys to winning game 7:

1) Keep Eric Staal off the score sheet – This is my number one point because the evidence is so clear! When Eric Staal scores in the playoffs this year, the Hurricanes have not lost a game. In this series, Eric Staal has had only one assist in the 3 Bruins victories. Plain and simple right there, keep him the fuck away from the puck and the net!

2) Play-off the Garden crowd – The Garden is going to be crazy tonight. Maybe I will run up and down the aisle with my Bruins jersey over my head like game 6 last year against the Canadiens , maybe I won’t. Either way though, this is the biggest hockey game in Boston since the Bruins went to the Finals in 1990 and the biggest NHL game that this building has ever seen. Although it will never be as loud as the real Garden, tonight will come as close as it has ever gotten. The Bruins need to play off this intensity and take full advantage of the crowd.

3) Keep the lines rolling – The last two games have been won through depth. The Bruins were the second best team in the NHL this year becasue of their depth.  Guys like Kessel, Savard and Ryder are expected to score, but when Recchi, Kobasew and Montador are scoring the Bruins show how much they can spread the wealth. Although supporting goals are important, the play of guys like Yelle, Thornton, Axelsson and Bitz has been the driving force behind these wins. They have eaten up ice time which gives the first few lines time to rest and also wears down Carolina’s lines. Keep all 4 lines rolling through the game and Carolina will not be able to even attempt a comeback late in the 3rd period.

4) Score first – This is not as important as it was in Carolina in game 6 on the road but we all saw what happened with Pittsburgh at Washington last night. Ovechkin had a chance to put 2 pucks in the net early, Fleury made some great saves and the rest is history. Although coming from behind in a game is never easy, it is especially tough and dangerous in a playoff game 7. Teams get desperate, defenses break down and the other team ends up just putting another one on the score board (i.e. last night’s game). As always, scoring first is key to winning hockey games but tonight it will not only further demoralize the Hurricanes but will also  will amplify point number 2.

Let me know what your keys to game 7 are in the comments.

Prediction: Bruins 4-1



23 Responses to “Game 7: Win or Go Home”

  1. 1 patverbeek
    May 14, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    I take exception to the pathetic whalers fan remark.

    I think the Comish makes some excellent points. The most important being to score first and score early. Nothing like getting your fans going early at home in a game 7 than putting one on the board first.

    • 2 commissionerdangle
      May 14, 2009 at 12:25 PM

      No offense Patty Cakes. It was more directed at the Whalers fans that are rooting for the Hurricanes.

      • 3 patverbeek
        May 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM

        Thank you for the clarification Comish. It’s sacreligious to root for the Canes if you consider yourself a Whalers fan.

      • 4 LPsnipa6
        May 14, 2009 at 3:36 PM

        Actually verbeek a true fan follows the franchise wherever they go. Not bounce from team to team to team annually.

  2. 5 thekiiid
    May 14, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    Great breakdown, Commish. I’d like to add that while keeping Staal off the score sheet is important, it’s vital to control the tempo of the game by controlling the puck. No blind passes, and don’t panic and whip it around the boards. If there is nothing available because Maurice is playing his non-existant trap,throw it hard off the glass. In the offensive zone, cycle and show patience….Wideman, hit the GD net!

  3. May 14, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    Adding to your 3rd point, I think the fourth line generates a lot of momentum for the scoring lines. It seems like when the top lines start sitting on their heels and don’t have a lot of spark in them, the fourth line goes out, bangs the defense in the offensive zone, gets the team fired up and gets the opponent off their game a little. As a fan, I can honestly say there’s not a time when I’m not happy with the forwards that are out on the ice.

  4. 7 patverbeek
    May 14, 2009 at 9:45 AM

    I hope Thorton puts the foil on tonight.

  5. May 14, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    5-2 B’s…..Ryder breaks out of his slump and gets the first one.

  6. 9 LPsnipa6
    May 14, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    Not allowing the Hurricanes to establish the fore-check is key. Which means every chance the bruins get the puck must come out. No turnovers. If you look at the three loses the Bruins had a real tough time breaking the puck out of the zone and turnovers were part of this. As a result there top lines got tired and had to get off the ice after they chipped the puck out and could not go on offence. We saw this last night in Pitt Wash game. The amount of time Ovechkin, Semin, backstrom, Fedorov spent in the offence zone was minimal because they were worn out from playing defense.

  7. 10 sammydreez
    May 14, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    4-3,(B-C) give marc savard the puck. theyre capable of winning i have no doubt that they will. i’m looking forward to watching, should be good.

  8. May 14, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    Does anyone find it fishy that Julien never once disclosed a player’s injury status all year and now in the playoffs before a game 7 he has gone on record adamantly saying that savard will play? The only other time I have ever heard Julien speak to the media about a player’s injury was a few days ago when he told them that ward possibly had a fractured orbital bone, which was complete bullshit.

    • 12 commissionerdangle
      May 14, 2009 at 10:55 AM

      Don’t forget earlier in the series how they were disclosing how Kessel was out from practice becasue of a sore elbow but that he was going to play in the next game.

      I agree that they are not very consistent, but I am not sure there is anything else behind the Savard injury

  9. May 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    I think you could add a fifth point to the list: Penalty Kill

    The Bs have been perfect on the kill the past two games.

  10. 14 Brady's Chin Dimple
    May 14, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Does anyone know if the game is on Versus tonight or NESN? I live in Maryland and have the center ice package at home so it isn’t a big deal if it’s on NESN… but I have to work until 10 tonight and was hoping to catch the game while here on Versus… If not, guess I’ll just have to leave early!! thanks!

  11. May 14, 2009 at 4:08 PM

    Take a cue from cammi and the kiiid and just say “fuck it, ill do it tomorrow”…then leave the office.

  12. May 14, 2009 at 4:39 PM

    Tomorrow? Nah, next week. I’m off tomorrow. Hard Hat will be out in full force tonight.

  13. 21 Brady's Chin Dimple
    May 14, 2009 at 5:49 PM

    Much better that it’s on NESN.. We’ll actually get to see Rene do the anthem and get Edwards instead of Doc or Beninati.. and I have already left the office.. I like the hard hat.. I have an old school Bruins painters hat from the 80s!

  14. 22 Coach
    May 14, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    Nice post Commish. I am a little upset I can’t comment more on this series, but I have only had the chance to watch 1 game. Versus always picks up one of the other games that is on, and all I see are highlights. With that being said, I REALLY WANT TO WATCH THIS FUCKING GAME TONIGHT AND ITS NOT ON! Detroit/Anaheim will do though. Let’s go Rangers!

  15. May 15, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Great article. You really should consider submitting this one to the Athletic Alley Blog Carnival. You can click on my name and see an example of you. There is also a link there for you to submit a post to the Blog Carnival.

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