Before the Stanley Cup Finals began many predicted the series to go 7 games as the teams were so evenly matched. But if you’re the Chicago Blackhawks, the last thing you want is to go to game 7 against the Boston Bruins. Why? Because the Boston Bruins just know how to win in game 7 situations.
The best opportunity for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup is in game 6. Yes, they’ll have to do so in Boston, but if they can win game 5 at home and gain momentum they’ll have a chance to close it out on the road and history is on their side.
Coming into the finals both the Blackhawks and Bruins were pretty evenly matched. The Blackhawks have more skilled players but the Bruins blue chip forwards certainly know how to get the job done. Both teams know what it takes to win the Cup, coming off recent Stanley Cup victories in 2010 and 2011.
Ironically, both teams survived major scares on their journey to the Finals; The Boston Bruins had a little more trouble disposing of the Toronto Maple Leafs than they’d like to admit. The Leafs forced a game 7 and had the Bruins trailing 4-1 before… well you know what happened. Following the hard fought battle with the Leafs the Bruins sailed through easily eliminating both he New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks got tripped up in round two at the Hands of the Detroit Red Wings and ended up down 3-1 before they battled back to win in game 7.
It’s really difficult to pick a favorite in this series; both teams know what it takes to win and have battled back from elimination in this post season. Either team could easily take home the Cup, but if this series goes the distance, the Bruins track record shows they know how to win in game 7’s.
In the last three years of playoff action the Boston Bruins have played in 5 game 7’s and have won 4 of those 5. One of those game 7 victories was their Stanley Cup win in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks, where they shutout the Canucks 4-0. Going back to the Bruins Cup win in 2011, they had to survive 3 game 7’s. Surviving game 7 three times in the same playoffs is unheard of. When everything was on the line, in a one-game winner take all- the Boston Bruins elevated their game to another level.
Then of course fast-forward to this years playoffs and take a look back at the first round. Ask the Leafs what happens when you have to face the Bruins in a game 7. Even when you’re beating the Bruins in the 3rd period, there’s still no quit in their game. Name another team in the entire league that would have been able to mount the comeback the Boston Bruins did in game 7 of the first round.
There is just something about the Bruins and game 7’s. To win a game 7 a team needs solid goaltending, physical play and depth; the Bruins possess all three of those things. They trust in Tuukka Rask, have solid D to help him out, play the best brand of physical hockey and have depth throughout the line-up. There’s no hero’s on the Bruins, they don’t turn to one guy to deliver like most teams; they have a bunch of hard working players who battle hard and can become the hero at any given moment.
Another key aspect about game 7 and the Bruins is they are fantastic at drawing a team off their game plan. Both the Rangers and Penguins stopped playing their game and started playing Bruins hockey. When you’re playing Bruins hockey and you’re not the Bruins you’re going to have a bad time and the Bruins will end up winning. When the game 7 rolls around the Bruins know what they have to do to get their opponent frustrated, and off their game just long enough for the Bruins to capitalize.
Just like the Bruins had a key number when they won the Cup, the Blackhawks also had a key number; that key number was 6. The Blackhawks closed out 3 of their 4 series’ back in 2010 in the 6th game. They have yet to close out a series this year in 6 games but the Stanley Cup Finals would be a great time to do so.
The Bruins have played chicken with game 7’s and have had great success doing so: a Stanley Cup Championship. They’re not afraid of game 7’s and elevate their game becoming a much more difficult team to play against. The Blackhawks like to make quick work of their opponents and finish things before game 7.
The best shot for the Blackhawks is to finish off the Bruins in game 6. Don’t let it get to a game 7 where the Bruins can virtually do no wrong. I’m not predicting a Boston Bruins win, all I’m saying is that the Blackhawks will want to end this in game 6. If it goes 7 the Bruins may be too much for the Blackhawks to handle.
Can the Blackhawks keep their lucky streak of winning it all in 6 or will the Bruins continue their game 7 dominance?