Who wins tonight? Who knows?

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Who wins tonight? Who knows?

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Today's number is seven. As in, Game 7.

Expectations in Boston aren't high. History shows the Bruins don't win Game 7's; they've lost three in the last three years. They haven't won one since 1994 (against the Canadiens in Boston).

But those are stats. They can either terrify or comfort, depending entirely on how they're presented.

For example:

Tuesday night, a TV station showed a graphic saying the Canadiens have indeed lost Game 3's before -- four times, in fact. But the station didn't mention the fact the Bruins have never rallied from a 2-0 series deficit. And they've had 26 chances to do it.

It's the eighth Game 7 between these Original Six rivals in this maxed-out series, the most in sports history, and the Canadiens have won five of the first seven. But since 1991, it's even: They've each won two.

The Canadiens as a road underdog during this 2010-11 season? 19-16. The Bruins when playing back-to-back days? 9-5.

I tried to figure out how these statistics intersect for about five seconds before I started hearing that "Mad World" song from Donnie Darko. That freaked me out, so I quit it.

I get tired of the numbers.

The Bruins beat Montreal in the conference semis in 1988. That meant something. At the time, it was a glorious break from Canadian hockey tyranny in Boston. It was wasn't the first time -- they had won in 1929 and 1943 -- but the '88 series was Boston's first playoff win over Montreal in 45 years. It served as a new wave. Since then, the Bruins are 6-4 against the Canadiens in the playoffs. Before that? 2-20.

So, that 6-4 record for recent history gives Boston holds the advantage, right? Or do the Bruins surrender it because of the three-straight Game 7 playoff ousters? Does Montreal have the edge, then? Must be, because the Canadiens have that 5-2 Game 7 advantage. Then again, the teams are even since 1991.

It's hard to digest.

You know what numbers I'm thinking about (besides Boston being 0-19 on the power play)? 50, for 50 percent odds. Though I am terrified of math, I once learned that two teams have a 5050 shot at winning a series when they are tied.

(Really. Forget Vegas. Gambling odds shown don't represent true chances that the event will occur, but the amounts books will pay out to winners. Think about it. If the numbers that are constantly thrown at us could predict who will win a playoff series, we wouldn't be watching, We'd be gambling. And we'd be earning more money for less work than Dan Ellis.)

Interesting to think this war is suspended in the middle of the battlefield.

Especially considering the implications Game 7's have for the people involved. They are nightmares for coaches who are expected to win them -- or who shouldn't even let their teams get there in the first place -- but keep losing. And Game 7's will haunt players who keep hitting them again and again, not like a speed bump, but a spike strip.

Who will win tonight? I have no idea. But neither does anybody else.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats
 

Tuesday, Aug. 23: What about NHLers in Olympics?

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Tuesday, Aug. 23: What about NHLers in Olympics?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating all the birthday wishes I got yesterday while turning 42 years old.

*With the World Cup of Hockey around the corner, there is still a decision pending on NHL players participating in the Olympics.

*With the Winnipeg Jets and Jacob Trouba still unable to agree on a contract extension, some are wondering about comparable contracts for the young D-man.

*In the strict interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Pete Sheppard and Jimmy Murphy on the Bruins from Monday afternoon.

*Marek Zidlicky is still a free agent option for teams seeking a cheap solution on their back end.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has the Ottawa Senators and Cody Ceci agreeing on a two-year contract extension after a summer without a deal.

*The Minnesota Wild do the right thing and officially change their goal song to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for next season.

*For something completely different: there will be a "Hamilton" documentary and the question will be whether I see that before I see the actual play.