The Boston Bruins head into Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday with a ton of experience in do-or-die playoff situations, which gives them a tremendous advantage over their opponents.
"...you expect your team to show again the experience that they’ve gained in the past," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
"When you go through those kinds of situations you can handle those a lot better and we had a Game 6 last year, do or die in the finals that we were able to overcome. So, I’m hoping it served us tonight and three Game 7s last year."
Is experience a major factor in Game 7s?
"There’s no guarantee in anything but you got to like the experience that you have going into Game 7."
Game 6 hero Tyler Seguin, who scored his first goal of the series in overtime on Sunday to force Game 7, thinks the team's experience in high-pressure playoff situations will really benefit the B's on Wednesday.
"I think it helps a lot," said Seguin. "I think going into tonight as well, Game 6, I’m not personally familiar with everyone on their team and what their playoff experiences is but we know coming off last year we shut out the ice. So seeing what happened tonight we hope to bring that experience the next game at home."
Let's look at the two teams' recent performances in Game 7s.
|2010-11||East Quarterfinals||Canadiens||4-3 OT/Win|
|2010-11||Stanley Cup Final||Canucks||4-0/Win|
|2007-08||East Quarterfinals||Flyers||3-2 OT/Loss|
As you can see, the Bruins have had great success in Game 7s of late, which going into last year's playoffs was not the case. Enter the 2010-11 playoffs, the Bruins had lost three straight Game 7s, but they grew up in a lot of ways last season and overcame their past failures in do-or-die type situations.
The Capitals are just 1-3 in their last four Game 7s, with two of those losses coming in the first round. Washington hasn't been able to perform when the stakes are highest over the last few years and most of the big-name players from those previous Game 7 losses, such as Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green, are still with the team.
You cannot underestimate the value of having experience in these types of high-pressure situations. Since the Bruins returned much of their Stanley Cup winning team from last year, very few of their players haven't experienced what preparing for and playing through a Game 7 feels like.
Capitals rookie goaltender Braden Holtby, who has been surprisingly magnificent in this series, has never played in a Game 7 before since this is his first ever playoff experience.
Meanwhile, his opposite number, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, is 9-2 all-time in elimination games and had two shutouts in Boston's three Game 7 victories last year, including a 4-0 on the road in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Even though the Capitals have won two games in Boston during this series (Games 2 and 5), Game 7 is a whole different animal. The pressure will really mount on the Capitals to live up to the expectations placed on them before the season, which included many people picking them to win the Cup.
Experience matters in the playoffs and the Bruins' major advantage over the Capitals in this area will play a part on Wednesday night, no question about it.
The Bruins know how to handle these types of high-pressure games, which will allow them to play a comfortable game on Wednesday and not get caught up in the moment.
With their great experience and depth up and down the lineup, there's no reason to believe Bruins won't prevail in another action-packed Game 7.
All quotes obtained from Bruins Media Site.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and has covered the team firsthand throughout the season. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston.