The Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight in TD Garden at 7 p.m. EST. It is the 34th time that the Bruins and Canadiens will play one another in the postseason, and the ninth time that they face off in a Game 7; both are NHL records. The storied history and competitive spirit that defines this rivalry, arguably one of the best in professional sports, certainly does not require a longwinded introduction.
Hockey fans everywhere have been treated to another hard-fought series between these teams; filled with lockdown defense, shutdown goaltending, rabid home crowds, and a little bit of mischief and button-pushing on both sides. The play on the ice has been equal parts messy and electrifying, showcasing the differing styles of the speedy Canadiens and the more hardnosed, schematic Bruins.
After splitting each of their two-game homestands, both teams took care of business at home to even the series at three games apiece. The most recent game, a 4-0 victory for Montreal at The Bell Centre, was certainly the least competitive game of the series. The Canadiens were superior in all areas of the game, though they were also aided by the missed opportunities and bad luck of the Bruins, who have rung iron on several occasions this series.
Tonight’s Game 7 in Boston will bring back memories (the fondness of which depends on your allegiance) to Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, where P.K. Subban tied the game with just under two minutes to play, and then Nathan Horton propelled the Bruins into the next round with a laser slapshot that erupted TD Garden. The Bruins, of course, would go on to win their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien may have summed up the feelings of those who have been waiting for this game since Monday’s game ended.
“It’s do or die right? I think everybody knows that,” he said. “To me it’s exciting, I was ready to play last night and I was excited watching the other games on TV. I wish it was an afternoon game versus a night game.”
The winner of this pivotal Game 7 will move onto the Eastern Conference Finals to square off against the New York Rangers, who came back from a 3-1 series deficit to take their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.