Bruins forward Brad Marchand seems to have the answer as to why
the Boston-Washington series has been so tight.
Really, it’s pretty simple.
”Both teams are just really resilient and I think both teams
have a lot of character,” Marchand said after practice Tuesday.
”And when you have guys like that in the room and on the ice, a
little momentum swing won’t affect guys and they can bounce back
fairly quickly from it.”
Indeed, this Eastern Conference, first-round pairing has been
historically close. Not only is it knotted, 3-3, it is the first
NHL series to ever have its first six games decided by one
”That just seems,” Marchand said, ”to be the case so
Game 7 is Wednesday at TD Garden.
The Bruins staved off elimination with a 4-3 overtime win in
Game 6 Sunday. They won two of the three games played in
Washington. But the Capitals have also won two road games in the
series, and they also triumphed in both visits to Boston during the
So, who knows, maybe the hostile environment plays to the
”Obviously, Boston’s a tough rink to play in, but I think it
suits our team well because it brings us down to a level where we
don’t try to do too much,” Washington goaltender Braden Holtby
said. ”We don’t try to be too fancy. I think we’ve been guilty of
that in front of our home crowd a bit, letting our emotions get to
us with the noise of the crowd and whatnot. And I think playing on
the road really helps us.”
The Capitals are staying level-headed though, knowing that past
success in Boston might not continue in a Game 7 atmosphere.
”You don’t think about it too much. You hear about it and you
recognize that, but it’s not something where we’ll say, `Oh, we’re
gonna beat them because we’ve beat them before on their rink,”’
Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. ”Every game is going to be
different. We just really have to remember the simple things and
play that simple game.
”It’s always nice if you can win a Game 7, 4-1, 5-1, but you’ve
got to be realistic and tell yourself that it’s going to be a tight
game and you’ve got to battle right to the end and don’t worry
about wanting to get a lead and just coast.”
Boston knows the Garden might not have a large impact on a Game
7. Although the Bruins won two Game 7s at home during their run to
the Stanley Cup championship last year, their ultimate victory came
on Vancouver’s ice in Game 7 of the Cup finals.
Without question, though, the Bruins will draw on that win over
”It matters a bit. We know we have to battle for 60 minutes
right down to the last buzzer,” Marchand said. ”But in Game 7,
anything can happen. It’s usually a lucky bounce or a minor mistake
that will decide the game.
”So we have to be prepared to play our best game yet in this
Boston center Patrice Bergeron should help. He has had two days
to rest his undisclosed injury. The Selke Trophy finalist was
injured in the second period of Game 5. He returned to that game
and then played in Game 6, but the league’s second-place finisher
in faceoff percentage during the regular season took only one
Although Bergeron did not practice Tuesday, he’s expected to
play Wednesday. When asked if he had any concerns of missing
Bergeron for Game 7, Bruins coach Claude Julien said: ”Not at
Other than Bergeron, both teams are relatively healthy for this
time of year, and they are approaching this tilt like it is any
”Ultimately, when you get out there on the ice to play, yes.
You’re trying to do what you’ve spent, well at my age, tens of
thousands of hours practicing in doing,” Boston goaltender Tim
Thomas said. ”So yes, ultimately. But having said that, everyone
knows it’s Game 7, it’s do or die, it is different.
”It is its own unique beast.”