For the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs it is once again coming down to a Game 7 match at TD Garden. The most recent time these two met in a Game 7 was in 2013, a miracle game that saw the Bruins come back from being down by three in the third period only to tie it and take it in overtime. Wednesday night’s game between the two Original Six teams is only their fourth Game seven match, with Boston having a 2-1 edge over Toronto in the previous three (2013 (Bruins), 1959 (Leafs), and 1941 (Bruins)).
Boston had an opportunity to close out the series in Game 5, but somehow seemed to lack the energy and commitment necessary. Tuukka Rask struggled in that game, ultimately being replaced by Anton Khudobin in the second period, but by that time the Bruins were down 4-1 in the second period with Toronto controlling much of the play.
It looked like the Bruins would take it in Game 6 in Toronto, as up to that point in the series the team who scored first had won the game. That was not to be the case on Monday night. The Bruins Jake DeBrusk got Boston on the scoreboard first, 1:02 into the second period, but the Maple Leafs responded 35 seconds later off the stick of William Nylander. Toronto thought they were up 2-1 about a minute later, but the goal was overturned due to goaltender interference after Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy challenged. Mitch Marner gave the Maple Leafs the lead 13:25 into the middle frame, which was the first team lead change in a game in the series. And from that point on the Bruins seemed to be on their heels, especially in the third period when Boston didn’t register their first shot on goal of the period until 10:11.
Obviously the previous six games don’t matter at this point because it is a do or die situation for both teams. Someone’s season is coming to an end. The only question to be answered is who truly wants this more—Boston or Toronto?
When asked about Game 7, Charlie McAvoy said “This is the NHL Playoffs. This is what you grow up as a kid dreaming, playing in that Game 7 and making a difference, having an impact. It’s my goal tomorrow to go out there and enjoy it. It’s gonna be fun. We’ve got the crowd with us. It’s gonna be loud. It’s gonna be energetic. We’re gonna have to feed off that. It’s gonna be an unbelievable experience.”
McAvoy has been struggling to stay upright on the ice with some questioning if he has an injury or if there is something wrong with his skates. He has been seen going to the equipment guys and getting them looked at. No one doubts his motivation. And players like DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly have stepped up.
The Bruins need their top line to produce—something they have struggled at since the two blow outs in Games 1 and 2. If Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak can start clicking again, then Toronto will likely be facing a team with four scoring lines and that is difficult to shut down. Rask needs to back his team as though he is ten feet tall and eight feet wide and made of bricks. He’s kept the team in a lot of the games, but none of that matters now.
If the Bruins win, their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at 3pm ET in Florida. If Toronto wins, then the series against Tampa Bay will begin Saturday night at 8pm ET in Florida.
So who do you think wants this one more?