NHL Playoffs 2012: Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Players Who Must Shine

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins, Players Who Must Shine
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There is nothing quite like a Game 7.

The mere fact that a series—whether it be in baseball, basketball or hockey—is going to a Game 7 is a clear indication that the series has already been something special.

That is certainly the case in the epic Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.

The Caps came into this series as a No. 7 seed, and most experts picked the defending-champion Bruins to steamroll the Caps in five, maybe six games at most.

Instead, the Bruins needed an overtime win in Game 6 just to get the series to a decisive Game 7.

All six games so far have been decided by just one goal. It does not get more even than that.

At times, it seems like the two teams have undergone radical role reversals, with the Caps playing like the Bruins from last year and the Bruins having to play like the Caps from a couple of years ago.

It has been one of the most physical, entertaining and closely-contested series in recent NHL playoff history.

And to top it all off—we get a Game 7, in Boston, Wednesday night.

For the Bruins, this is nothing new, as they faced elimination in Game 7 three times last year—and they never blinked, not once, as they captured the Stanley Cup.

For the Capitals, their history in Game 7 has been terribly disappointing. In particular, the last two times the Capitals played a Game 7, a disastrous outcome occurred.

In the 2008-09 playoffs, the Caps did win a Game 7 when they beat the Rangers to complete a comeback from being down 3-1. Then, they forgot to show up in Game 7 against the Penguins, giving easily their worst performance of the series when it counted the most. 

As if that was not bad enough, in the 2009-10 playoffs, they could not overcome the No. 8 seeded Canadiens at home, as they suffered one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history.

History favors the Bruins. Experience favors the Bruins. They will be playing at home, which might actually favor the Capitals, who have already won twice in Boston in this series.

You can analyze trends and history and stats and everything else. But at the end of the day, Game 7 will be decided by the players.

Here, then, are the six players who need to shine in Game 7 if their team is going to have the best chance of winning tomorrow night.

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