Game 7s are for everybody.
No longer are the stars the only players to watch. When a series arrives at its winner-take-all moment, anyone can step into the skates of the hero. In the first round against Montreal, Boston got an overtime goal from Nathan Horton
, just emerging as a go-to guy for the Bruins. In that same round, Tampa Bay got the game-winner against Pittsburgh from the little-known -- at the time -- Sean Bergenheim
Tampa Bay's only Stanley Cup title came courtesy of a Game 7 victory against Calgary in 2004. Guess who scored the winner? It wasn't Vincent Lecavalier
. It wasn't Martin St. Louis
. Instead, it was Ruslan Fedotenko
, often an afterthought on a team loaded with offensive wizards.
Who will take a twirl as the hero as this Eastern Conference Finals reaches its apex?
Here are seven prime candidates to be an unlikely Game 7 star:
Mark Recchi --
He doesn't have a point in the series and often he has been a step behind the play against the speedy Lightning, but nobody has more big-game experience than Recchi. He has won two Stanley Cups and has played in nine Game 7s along the way. In those nine games, he has 4 goals and 3 assists. Simply put, the oldest player in this series knows how to deliver when it is needed most.???
Tyler Seguin --
The rookie burst on the scene in this series and kept Boston afloat early on. He had a goal and an assist in Game 1 and then had a 2-goal, 2-assist outing in Game 2. He's been quiet since, going without a point in the past four games. He still has shown flashes of brilliance during this mini-slump, and his speed and top-end puck skills repeatedly have left the Tampa Bay defense on its heels.
Andrew Ference --
The Boston defenseman doesn't score that often. He has just 2 goals this postseason and only has 3 regular-season goals combined in the past two seasons. However, the Bruins are stressing shots from the point in this series, which means Ference has a chance to get a big goal. And he would love nothing more. He still has vivid nightmares of this same Lightning organization ruining his chance at a Stanley Cup with a Game 7 victory in the 2004 Final. He would love nothing more than to serve up some revenge in this Game 7.
Dominic Moore --
Moore has been an under-appreciated role player for much of his career, and even after having a strong playoff run for Montreal last season he spent nearly a month looking for a new team in the offseason. He never has lost a Game 7, winning all three he's played in during the past two seasons. He scored the game-winning goal against Washington in the first round last season, had a goal against Pittsburgh in the second-round victory and set up the lone goal in a 1-0 triumph against the Penguins in the opening round of these playoffs.
Mattias Ohlund -
- Members of the Lightning have combined for 14 career points in Game 7s, but two guys have combined for half of them. Moore has three, but the player with a team-leading four is a bit of a surprise -- Ohlund. The defenseman has 1 goal and 3 assists in five career Game 7s. Tampa Bay hasn't had a lot of offense from its defensemen in this series, but that could mean the group is due to supply a surprise goal and Ohlund has the best track record of the bunch.
Teddy Purcell --
He has been the breakout star of this series for the Lightning, collecting a team-high 5 goals in the first six games. He has a pair of multi-goal games in the past three contests. He has produced 17 points in 17 postseason games, a scoring total topped by only four other players. Purcell has been a key figure on the team's No. 2 power-play unit, and as a player who can skate on either of the top two lines.
And for a bonus, maybe the unlikeliest of the unlikely heroes Friday ...
Sean Bergenheim --
His coach says it's "doubtful" he'll be able to play, but NHL postseason history is full of players who play through injury when people don't expect it. Bergenheim's spot in the lineup would be considered a surprise, but if he plays it could make for a fitting story if he is the hero. Bergenheim scored the winning goal in Game 7 against Pittsburgh and is third in the League with 9 this postseason.