Comparing something in the regular season to a Game 7 is how Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter explained the importance of matchups well before the playoffs.
Now the Caps area actually facing a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins. The message to his players who have never been in this situation?
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a Game 7,” Hunter said. “Both teams are equal going in. You’ve got to have fun with it. You’ve got to enjoy it.”
Hunter played in four Game 7s with the Caps, who went 1-3.
He scored the game-winner and another goal and chipped in an assist in his first, an overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Beating Ron Hextall in OT is one of the seminal moments in franchise history. He was scoreless with a minus-1 rating in the other three.
“It’s what you dream as a kid when you grow up: Playing a Game 7 like this and enjoying it and having fun with it,” Hunter said. “Enjoy it. Have fun with it. I know they’re going to battle and play hard, both teams. It’s going to be a great game to watch, for the fans, for everybody.”
John Carlson had a bit of a different response when asked how his experience from the first round in 2010 against the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s a war. I think every game in the series is pretty much the same. We’ve all played in games where your back’s against the wall, so to speak,” the defenseman said. “It’s a big game for us.”
Hunter isn’t worried about his players (or reporters) bouncing back from Game 6.
“They’re going to go out and play Game 7 like it’s what Game 7 should be all about. Excitement,” he said. “You can’t wait for the game to get started. You guys, too, I bet. You can’t wait. You want to play it.”