Haggerty: Bruins back in familiar territory

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Haggerty: Bruins back in familiar territory

BOSTON -- The Washington Capitals have done well in their first-round series against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Bruins, and theyve proven the wise guys wrong by playing hard-nosed, playoff-style hockey.

The Caps and Bruins have battled through six one-goal games with the seventh and deciding matchup on tap Wednesday night the first time in Stanley Cup playoff history that two teams have played six consecutive one-goal games. But Game 7 is what separates the men from the boys, and its something the B's excelled at last year.

Boston players like Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas had previously struggled in Game 7, but flipped that on its head last season as the Bruins became the only team in NHL history to post three Game 7 victories en route to winning the Cup.

Theres no secret to Game 7 success, as the Bruin players tell anybody who'll listen. It simply comes down to confidence, poise and self-control under the greatest pressure cooker the NHL can concoct.

This is where experience can help; the playoffs are tight regardless, said Thomas, who now stands 3-1 in Game 7s during his Bruins career. If you look back at last year, we played in a lot of tight playoff games in our run. In a majority of those tight games -- even during the regular season weve done a good job of finding and figuring out a way to be the team that comes out on top. Thats where experience comes in.

I actually think being on the bad side of Game 7 losses allows you to know you can fail and that life will go on. Your life wont be ruined. Until youve had that experience its really tough to handle. It actually gave me an advantage going into the Game 7s last year. But having won having won several times in Game 7 -- also gives you confidence that you can get it done again.

The Bruins have 18 players remaining from last years Cup-winning roster, and each one of them has the cool confidence of a player thats been there and done that.

It matters a bit, said Brad Marchand, who scored a pair of goals in Bostons 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in their last Game 7 last June. We know we have to battle for 60 minutes, right down to the last buzzer. But in Game 7 anything can happen and its usually a lucky bounce or a minor mistake that will decide the game. We have to be prepared to play our best game yet of this series.

The best part for the Bruins: They havent come close to playing up to their potential in the first six games of the series, while Boston has brought the best out of the Capitals.

Were evolving here as team, said coach Claude Julien. The one thing I can say is our team has been good in the series, but I dont think its been at its best. Its at best when everybodys playing their best hockey. Last year we had that challenge in the first round. We remember that third line with Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, and Michael Ryder playing a big role and got us through.

Weve got some guys right now that have carried us through a Game 7 and some of those other guys in the last game the Tyler Seguins, the Patrice Bergerons, the David Krejcis, the Milan Lucics and the Marchands, are picking up their game. When we got everybody going were a really good team. Thats what we have to bring Wednesday night. We need to get the best out of everybody. Hopefully once that happens we get the right result and we carry forward with that group.

The Bruins have managed to push to a Game 7 despite getting zero goals from Milan Lucic; no more than one goal from anybody not named Rich Peverley, and a complete breakdown by Thomas in the third period of the Game 5. Theyre also missing Nathan Horton the guy who clinched the Game 7 victories over Montreal and Tampa Bay during last years playoff run after he was ruled out for the postseason because of a concussion.

All of that is background noise now. All that matters to the B's is the task at hand.

Even though we won last year I still have in the back of my mind all those bad feelings from losing those Game 7s, said David Krejci. Its more intense. Everybody is more involved. Everything gets tight because nobody wants to open up, so youve got to stay patient. Usually the more patient team wins.

Its fun when you win and it sucks when you lose. Ive been on both sides and its a lot more fun when you win. Winning the Cup is one thing, but we have a chance to win it twice in a row. That is something special. We have a chance in Game 7 to get a step closer. Its an exciting time. Weve got to get it done.

It hasnt been easy and its been far from pretty, but there is every reason to believe the Bruins will make it four Game 7 victories in a row when they take the ice against the upstart Capitals on Wednesday night.

They're too experienced and too ready for these big playoff moments, and they have to know theres another possible deep run at hand with the Penguins out of the playoffs and the Rangers on the brink of elimination in the East.

If the Bruins can summon up one more big game, things are once again breaking exactly the right way.

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.