NHL Playoffs: In Game 7, Bruins forced to confront their demons
Yet here they are again, one round later, trying to turn back another comeback.
The Bruins will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the conference finals Friday night, with the winner earning a chance to play the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. But Boston could have avoided a winner-take-all predicament if it had merely protected a three-goal lead in Game 4; scored more than one power-play goal a week in the playoffs; or kept Tampa Bay from scoring, as often as not, in the first 90 seconds of the game.
“We’ve got a Game 7, it’s at home, and we’re one game away from the Stanley Cup finals. Why shouldn’t we be excited?” coach Claude Julien said Thursday after stepping off the team charter at Hanscom Field outside of Boston. “Our guys are not discouraged or disappointed. The past is the past. We’ve got an opportunity to win a hockey game and get into the Stanley Cup finals.”
The Bruins spent most of this season trying to forget what happened in last year’s playoffs, when the Flyers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a seventh game and then trailed 3-0 in Game 7 before winning to advance to the conference finals. Boston swept Philadelphia this year in Round 2, but that doesn’t mean Bruins fans are ready to get comfortable when the team gets a big lead.
In Game 4, with Boston already leading the series 2-1, the Bruins opened up a 3-0 lead before allowing five unanswered goals. The Bruins also led 3-2 in the series, with a 2-1 lead after one period of Game 6 on Wednesday night, before the Lightning scored three in a row and eventually won 5-4.
That sent the teams back to Boston for Game 7.
“When it all comes down to one game, I think the pressure is on both teams,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “You shouldn’t allow pressure to get into your head. Just go out there and play your game.”