Another Game 7 on the way

Another Game 7 on the way
May 13, 2014, 1:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

The Bruins had a chance to close out the Canadiens last night, but they didn’t. They didn’t come close. It takes your best effort to knock out a team as talented as Montreal; that’s playing at home with everything and more on the line — and the Bruins just didn’t have it.
 
So, who’s to blame?
 
First and foremost, Shawn Thornton. This is ALL started with him squirting that water in — just kidding. I’m not playing the blame game today because it doesn’t matter. Not yet. If the Bruins lose tomorrow night? Then sure, maybe we can go back and second-guess a few things. But either way, the details of last night’s Game 6 will be more than likely zapped from history’s record. Totally lost in the insanity and impact of what happens next.
 
That would be Game 7 — Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins: Wednesday, 7 pm — and over the next 24 hours, New England will be mercilessly clobbered over the head with ludicrous levels of hype, and cliché after cliché surrounding the magnitude of what it all means.
 
And you know what?
 
It’s going to be awesome. Honestly, bring it on.
 
When it comes to a Game 7, hype has no ceiling. At the very least, it’s a moment that will alter the course of sports history. Game 7 is the reason clichés exist. It’s a time when even the most cynical and disillusioned fan can throw all of his or her baggage on the shelf and get lost in the only reason they ever cared about sports in the first place.
 
It’s Game-freaking-7, and here in Boston, we’ve been fortunate. Believe it or not — but seriously, I looked it up, so just believe it — tomorrow night will be Boston’s 20th Game 7 in the last 10 years.
 
For the record, that doesn’t include the Patriots. Even though you can make the argument that every NFL playoff game is its own Game 7, it’s more accurate to call it a winner-take-all Game 1. There might be that same sense of urgency on both sides, but you can’t recreate the tension and backstory of a six game warm-up. It’s not the same.
 
And for that matter, not all Game 7s are the same. The 19 that have passed through Boston over this last decade have all left a different sized footprint on the spectrum of local sports history. Some were quickly forgotten. Others were overshadowed by everything that’s happened since.
 
But here are the 10 that will never die:
 
10. April 27, 2011 — NHL Eastern Conference first round: After failing to end the series in Montreal, the Bruins come home and outlast the Canadiens in overtime to advance along on their road to the Cup. Nathan Horton scores the game winner.
 
9. May 14, 2010 — NHL Eastern Conference semifinals: The Bruins blow a 3-0 series lead, and then a 3-0 lead in Game 7 to the Flyers. Everyone calls for Claude Julien’s head. He’s the worst.
 
8. May 18, 2008 — NBA Eastern Conference semifinals: The first great duel between Paul Pierce and LeBron James. Both guys go for 40+, but in the end, PJ Brown’s jumper and one insanely fortunate bounce sends the Cavs packing, and leaves the Celtics surging into the conference finals and onto a championship.
 
7. May 13, 2013 — NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals: The Bruins score three goals in the final 10 minutes and another one in overtime to finish off the greatest comeback in NHL history. This one falls short a little because it didn’t lead to a title, but will never be forgotten and has permanently altered the mindset of any team that finds itself in a similar hole.
 
6. May 27, 2011 — NHL Eastern Conference finals: After failing to end the series in Tampa, the Bruins come home and outlast the Lightning (1-0) to advance along to the Cup. Nathan Horton scores the game winner.
 
5a. October 19, 2008 — ALCS: This one probably doesn’t get the respect it deserves among the most recent Game 7s in Boston history, because it’s one that every one would much rather forget. Still, the Sox were one win away from making their second straight trip to the World Series, but couldn’t get by Matt Garza, David Price and the Rays.
 
5b. June 9, 2012 - NBA Eastern Conference Finals: There are really 11 games that belong on this list. Actually, there are more than that, but I had to draw the line somewhere, and that’s at 11. It’s still hard to believe that the Celtics had an honest shot at beating the Heat in 2012, but they did. And this Game 7 loss not only killed that dream, but also marked the unofficial end of an era.
 
4. October 21, 2007 — ALCS: The Sox complete a 3-2 series comeback with a blowout win over the Indians, and then sweep the Rockies on their way to a title.
 
3. June 17, 2010 — NBA Finals: The Celtics fall apart down the stretch in Los Angeles, blow a 3-2 series lead to the Lakers and miss out on that second title — which would have catapulted them into a different stratosphere in the discussion of best teams in NBA history.
 
2. October 20, 2004 — ALCS: The Red Sox beat the Yankees to complete the greatest comeback in baseball history, and cruise to their first World Series title in 86 years.
 
1. June 15, 2011 — Stanley Cup Finals: The Bruins beat the Canucks for their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
 
Take a second and review that list one more time. Think back on all the ridiculous history — titles won and lost, legacies made and re-made — that was altered by these 11 games. Change one of the outcomes and consider everything that changes with it.
 
That’s Game 7.
 
And while we can’t know for sure how this next one will play out, the last six games (and 60+ years of rivalry) leaves me pretty confident that we’ll soon be making room on the list for May 14, 2014.
 
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