BOSTON – It is Michel Therrien’s first Game 7 as an NHL coach, compared to No. 10 for Boston’s Claude Julien. But as the Canadiens coach pointed out, he has been here before.
“For us, Game 6 in Montreal was the same thing,” Therrien said of the Habs’ 4-0 do-or-die win, which forced Game 7 Wednesday night at the TD Garden. “It’s a matter of attitude and I believe we had the right frame of mind and right mindset for Game 6. The attitude was there.
“And I saw a bunch of guys (Tuesday) with the same attitude. This morning again. So we’re all excited about that challenge. It was a huge challenge for us back home and it’s another huge challenge for us tonight.”
Julien, who ties Mike Keenan for the most Game 7s in NHL history among head coaches, was equally excited after the morning skate.
“I was ready to play last night and I was excited watching the other games on TV,” said the Bruins coach, who is 5-4 in his previous nine Games 7s. “I wish it was an afternoon game versus a night game.
“It’s the excitement of wanting to play those (games). It depends on how you approach it. I’m excited about it. I don’t know if having been through a lot of Game 7s is a compliment. But we’ve been through a lot of them and hopefully we can take advantage of it.”
The winner will host the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.
Both the Bruins and Canadiens will be looking for a fast start. The team that scores first in Game 7 is 113-40 (.739) all-time, not to mention all six previous games in this series.
Boston has a clear edge in Game 7 experience. The Bruins have played in a combined total of 89 Game 7s, compared to 38 for Montreal.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be appearing in his 11th Game 7, passing Martin Brodeur, Andrew Ference and Scott Gomez (10) for the most among active players
“Asked about his favourite Game 7 memory, the 37-year-old Chara smiled and replied: “Every one that we win.”
Ask Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher about his last Game 7 and the 22-year-old forward reaches back to junior hockey for a double-overtime Vancouver Giants win over the Spokane Chiefs.
The Habs will look to their leaders, with goalie Carey Price and defenceman P.K. Subban leading the way.
“P.K. Subban’s been phenomenal since the playoff started … He’s a gamer,” said Therrien. “He’s a guy that will bring his game to another level when the game counts. He’s been a leader on the ice definitely for our club.”
Price’s record this year in elimination games is 4-0, counting Game 6 and three win-or-go-home games at the Sochi Olympics—against Latvia, the U.S. and Sweden. The 26-year-old gave up just one goal in those games.
“He’s calm and he makes our team play with confidence,” said Therrien. “It goes with maturity. He’s a young veteran but this year his experience at the Olympics, I thought he was phenomenal. He was a true leader for that team and ended up winning the gold medal. Last game, it was the same thing. It was a huge game for us.”
All four of Price’s post-season shutouts have come against the Bruins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other goalie to earn his first four playoff shutouts against one team is Brodeur (also against Boston).
The only other Habs goalie with four post-season shutouts against the Bruins is Jacques Plante (between 1954 and 1958).
Boston is taking part in a Game 7 for the seventh consecutive season, setting an NHL record. The Bruins had been tied with the Avalanche, participants in six consecutive years from 1998 through 2003.
There was no word on any lineup changes. Asked if defenceman Dennis Seidenberg might return from a knee injury layoff, Julien chose to be a bit fuzzy.
“I don’t think so,” said Julien, who obviously knew the answer. “I’d be very surprised.”
NOTES—The Game 7 between the Bruins and Canadiens is the ninth between the two franchises, which is a record for two teams among all major sports. Montreal held a 5-3 advantage in the eight prior Game 7s, but the teams split six such games in Boston … Thirty-eight of the 152 Game 7s in the NHL have required overtime, with a 19-19 split between home and road teams.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported that the Bruins had 87 Game 7s and Montreal had 36.