Capitals-Bruins Preview

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

regular season.

So, who knows, maybe the hostile environment plays to the

Capitals’ strengths.

”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

the Canucks.

”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.”