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It All Comes Down to This

Bruins and Maple Leafs set for Game 7 on Wednesday night

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Bruce Cassidy offered some perspective on Tuesday afternoon.

When asked if his team was facing pressure heading into Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he chose to take a much broader outlook.

"Game 7 they talk about pressure vs. embracing the moment," said Cassidy. "Listen, yesterday in Toronto, the first responders, they were under pressure. That's pressure to me - real life pressure. This is a game that players dream about being in this situation - Game 7 - playing road hockey in a small town in Canada, or a big city in the United States, or somewhere in between.

"That's what it's about. Enjoy the moment. Prepare to play well, we did that today and I think we have throughout the series. Now you gotta go out and embrace it.

"To me, that's the simplest message we can give to our players. Do your job, do it well, trust the guy beside you. We've done it all year."

Video: Cassidy speaks after Tuesday's practice

Despite dropping the last two games and seeing their 3-1 series lead disappear, the Bruins are embracing the opportunity in front of them. A victory on Wednesday night in the winner-take-all showdown at TD Garden and they'll be headed to Tampa Bay for a second-round meeting with the Lightning.

"We know we are a good team, we know how to play," said David Pastrnak. "We just need to find a way to do it right away."

Pastrnak is one of 10 Bruins who have never played in a Game 7, joining Noel Acciari, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Matt Grzelcyk, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Charlie McAvoy, Riley Nash, and Tim Schaller. Given that lack of experience, Boston's young stars will look to those that have plenty of familiarity in the biggest of games - chief among them Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci, who have played in a combined 28 Game 7s in their careers.

"It's huge," said Kuraly. "We know we can follow their lead…we trust them and we've leaned on them all year, and it's worked all year."

The Bruins know that Wednesday night is an opportunity. And it's one they are planning to embrace by following their coach's lead.

"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," said McAvoy. "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."

Video: Pastrnak speaks about Game 7

More Lineup Tweaks?

Cassidy altered his lineup for Game 6, inserting Tommy Wingels in place of Heinen. Wingels played the right wing on the second line, with Rick Nash shifting down to third-line left wing.

But during Tuesday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Heinen was playing the right side next to Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, while Wingels did not take any regular rushes.

"The guys have responded, so if Danton goes back in after sitting a game, we hope we get that response," said Cassidy. "That's the idea, for them to learn something from being up there, not take it personally, but take it personally, if that makes sense. 'Hey, I have to get in there and keep my spot because there are some worthy guys here.' If he goes back in, we hope that's what happens."

Heinen said he'd be ready to contribute should he get the call on Wednesday night.

"I feel good," said Heinen. "Got a little bit of rest and I'll be ready to go if I get the opportunity. I think being hard on pucks, be assertive out there and win my battles, have the puck a little more, and try to make plays.

"It's still hockey, it's gonna be fun. You dream about Game 7s your whole life. If I get the opportunity, I'll be ready and I'm sure everyone in here is gonna be ready."

Video: Heinen speaks after sitting out Game 6

Cassidy, however, did not rule out playing Donato, who has suited up for just one game in this series, a 9 minute, 24 second performance in Game 2.

"We've considered it, certainly," said Cassidy. "He played a game earlier. He was OK, he wasn't bad, he wasn't great, he was somewhere in between. Whatever you decide tomorrow, it's not set in stone today. We looked at some things today. There is a certain level of trust you have in your players that have gotten you this far.

"Ryan is in consideration. We're going to try to play the best 12 forwards and see how the pieces fit, win a hockey game tomorrow. He may or may not be a part of that."

Game 7 Notes and Numbers:

  • This will be the 26th Game 7 in Bruins' history, with 21 of them coming on home ice. They are 13-12 overall and 12-8 at home.
  • Toronto is playing in its 23rd Game 7, with 16 coming on the road. The Maple Leafs are 12-10 overall and 4-10 on the road.
  • Of the Bruins' last 19 postseason series, 11 have gone to a seventh game. Their last series to go seven games was their second-round showdown with Montreal in 2014.
  • In 2011, the Bruins became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in one season.
  • In 2013, Boston became the first team in NHL history to overcome a three-goal, third-period deficit to wing a Game 7 with their 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round
  • The Bruins are 2-1 against Toronto in Game 7s: 2-1 win in the 1941 Stanley Cup Final, 3-2 loss in the 1959 Stanley Cup Final, 5-4 win in 2013 first round.
  • Chara (11) and Bergeron (9) have the most Game 7 experience in the series. Bergeron has two game-winning goals in seventh games (2011 Stanley Cup Final, 2013 First Round).

Video: Nash speaks to media after Tuesday's practice

    Taking A Moment

    Cassidy began his press conference by pausing to offer his thoughts to all of those affected by the Toronto van attack, which left 10 dead and 15 injured on Monday afternoon.

    "Yesterday we were - obviously some things are bigger than hockey - we're focused on the game, but Boston went through that a number of years ago. Certainly we're behind them all the way," said Cassidy.

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