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

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

BOSTON – There wasn’t much for Anton Khudobin to say after it was all over on Thursday night. 

The B’s backup netminder allowed four goals on 22 shots while looking like he was fighting the puck all night. It was one of the big reasons behind a tired-looking 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

The loss dropped Khudobin to 1-4-0 on the season and puts him at a 3.02 goals-against average and .888 save percentage this season. Three of the four goals beat Khudobin despite him getting a pretty good look at them. The ultimate game-winner in the second period from John Mitchell just beat him cleanly on the short side. 

Matt Duchene beat Khudobin from the slot on a play that was a bad defense/bad goaltending combo platter to start the game and MacKinnon ripped a shorthanded bid past the Bruins netminder to put Boston in a hole against a woeful Colorado team. 

Afterward, Khudobin didn’t have much to say, with just one good performance among five games played for the Black and Gold this season. 

“Four goals is too much. That’s it,” said a to-the-point Khudobin, who was then asked how he felt headed into the game. “I don’t know; too much energy…yeah, too much. I don’t know. I just had a lot of energy and I think it just didn’t work out my way.”

Khudobin didn’t really expand on why he had too much energy, but perhaps it’s because the compacted schedule has really curtailed the team’s ability to hold team practices on a regular basis. Or maybe he was just disappointed it took him a week to get back between the pipes after playing his best game of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Either way Claude Julien said that the Bruins needed better goaltending on a night where they weren’t at their sharpest physically or mentally, and Khudobin clearly wasn’t up to the challenge this time around. 

“We needed some saves tonight and we didn’t get them. He’s got to be better. A lot of things here that we can be better at and take responsibility [for],” said Julien. “But at the same time, you got to move on here. To me it’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, and we would have had a chance. Now we’ve got to move forward.”

Clearly, the Bruins have no choice but to move on with a busy schedule that doesn’t let up anytime soon, but one of the lessons learned from Thursday night is that the Bruins need to get better backup goaltending from a collective crew (Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban included) that’s won just once in eight games behind Tuukka Rask this season. 

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.