Colin Wilson’s father, Carey, played 12 NHL seasons and never experienced a Game Seven. Now, the younger Wilson is set to play in his second in a span of two weeks.
Some never get the chance to play in a situation like the one the Nashville Predators have tonight in San Jose. So when it comes, embracing it is of the utmost importance.
The Preds have a chance to win a second Game Seven in these playoffs tonight when they face the Sharks at SAP Center and an opportunity to advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history. But as high as the stakes may be, the club isn’t letting the nerves overtake them.
“I think that’s what we’ve done a good job of; it’s not necessarily nerves, it’s just a lot of guys being excited,” Wilson said. “It’s what you play for, it’s what you dream about, scoring an overtime goal in Game Seven… It’s a lot of guys embracing the moment.”
Head Coach Peter Laviolette, who has won an NHL-record five consecutive Game Sevens behind the bench, says he doesn’t need to emphasize to his players what’s at stake tonight. Rather, he’ll continue to trust the attributes that have worked so far for his team, winners of three elimination games to this point.
“I think we rely on the leadership in the room to set the right example and to do the right things,” Laviolette said. “I think it’s more of our makeup of who we were through the regular season, and we’re just a hard-working group. Good character in the room, good leadership in the room, and that puts you down the right road when you get into a situation like this.”
The home team is perfect in each of the six games of the series thus far, something that the group is aware of before puck drop. But the Preds have already won a Game Seven on the road this spring, not bad for experience’s sake.
“I think we’re resilient, it brings out the best in us,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “Tonight, we’re looking for another strong effort. We haven’t won here in the playoffs yet, and that’s our main goal going forward. We’re excited to be in this situation. We’ve found success to this point and have one more job to do.”
“It’s a resilient team; we play well with our backs against the wall, have all year, and I think that’s brought us confidence in this postseason,” Wilson said. “We did a good job in the first three [elimination games], and going into this one feeling the same way, a lot of belief in our guys.”
Nashville’s season could have come to an end on three separate occasions already, but this team has found a way. In a few hours, they may just do it again.
“The guys know the deal, they know where they’re at,” Laviolette said. “They’re loose right now and they’re ready to play.”