TORONTO -- Bruins center Chris Kelly said prior to Sunday night’s game that the Bruins “don’t want any Game 7s”, but that’s exactly what they’ll be getting Monday night.
The Bruins fell in frustrating fashion to the Maple Leafs by a 2-1 score on Sunday night in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre, and they now must play their best game of the season on Monday night in order to survive and advance to the next Stanley Cup playoff round.
“We never said this was going to be an easy series, but now it’s all down to one game,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Whatever happened in the first six games doesn’t really matter, it’s about showing up for [Game 7].”
It’s even more difficult for the Bruins after they learned that plane trouble was keeping them grounded in Toronto until Monday morning, and the Maple Leafs players were able to sleep in Boston while the B’s were stranded until around 9 a.m.
It will be imperative for the Black and Gold to forget about the first six games of the series, and in particular what’s gone down in Game 5 and Game 6. Toronto goaltender James Reimer was outplayed badly in the series during the first four games, but has stopped 72 of the 74 shots he’s faced in the last two contests to push the Game 7.
The Leafs seem to also be getting stronger as Game 4 goat Dion Phaneuf scored the game’s first goal while paying the price in front of the net on a Nazem Kadri shot, and Phil Kessel snapped home his third goal of the series on a rebound in front for the game-winner. The score from No. 81 sent chants of “Thank You, Seguin!” ringing through the Air Canada Centre stands, and underscored just how badly the 21-year-old Bruins forward has struggled with zero points in six playoff games against Toronto.
The Bruins are 3-4 in Game 7’s during Claude Julien's six-year stay in Boston, but all three of those Game 7 victories came during the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup championship. Otherwise, four of the previous five playoff excursions for Boston have ended with Game 7 losses dating back to Julien’s first season when the favored Montreal Canadiens finally took the B’s out in Game 7. Then the Bruins fell to the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 losses in successive years before besting Montreal, Tampa Bay and Vancouver to capture the Stanley Cup.
But the Black and Gold were back at it with a Game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals in the first round last season, and they’re now faced with the prospects of another Game 7 against the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden.
“You don’t want to play Game 7s. It’s anyone’s game when it gets to a Game 7,” said Kelly prior to Game 6. “If we come out with desperation from the start then we put ourselves in a pretty good spot. When you’re desperate, you’ll do whatever it takes to win. We need that right now.”
The B’s third-line center said the Bruins needed that desperation prior to Game 6 in Toronto, but they really need it for Monday's winner-take-all showdown. Because if the Bruins don’t do “whatever it takes” to defeat a Maple Leafs club that’s clearly inferior, this could be looked upon years down the line as the final act for this particular group of Bruins players.