Bruins vs. Maple Leafs: Why History Is Not on Boston's Side in Game 7

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2013

The Toronto Maple Leafs had every reason to fall apart when they dropped Game 4 in overtime to the Boston Bruins.

The loss put them in a 3-1 hole and the series was going back to Boston. The Bruins were the bigger and stronger team; they had absorbed the Leafs' best punch and it was just a matter of slamming the door shut.

The Maple Leafs have shown a lot more resilience than most observers thought possible. They have responded with consecutive 2-1 wins to tie the series.

Game 7 will be played with almost no waiting necessary. The two teams will meet in Boston Monday night.

Before looking at that game, it should be noted that Games 5 and 6 were nearly mirror images of each other. The Bruins often controlled play, but the combination of the Toronto defense and goalie James Reimer frustrated Boston throughout the majority of the game.

Toronto was able to build 2-0 leads in both games and then withstand serious Boston pressure.

The Maple Leafs' skill level was notable, as their chances came as a result of quick puck movement and solid passing.

The Bruins too often behaved as if the puck was a hand grenade. They regularly fumbled it and failed to turn solid positioning into stellar scoring opportunities.

The 2011 Stanley Cup champions have one more chance to put away the Leafs. One might think the veteran Bruins would get comfort from their vast edge in experience, but their recent Game 7 history has been painful.

Last year, the Bruins had a Game 7 at home against the Washington Capitals. They had won Game 6 on the road to tie the series, but they lost the decisive game to the Caps when Joel Ward converted a rebound early in overtime to end the Bruins' season.

In 2010, the Bruins suffered one of the most ignominious defeats in their history. They had taken a 3-0 lead on the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they squandered that lead and Philadelphia roared back to win three games in a row and tie the series.

In the seventh game, the Bruins sprinted to a 3-0 first period lead. However, the Flyers kept their calm and chipped away at the lead. They tied the score in the second period and completed the comeback when Simon Gagne scored the power-play winner in the third period.

The 2009 season also ended in horrific fashion. The heavily favored Bruins were pushed to the limit by the Carolina Hurricanes. They were trailing 2-1 in the third period of the seventh game, but tied it on a Milan Lucic goal.

The Bruins pressed for the advantage in the third period and again in overtime. However, Carolina's Scott Walker corralled a rebound and batted it by goalie Tim Thomas to eliminate the Bruins.

In 2008, the Bruins were in the same position that the Maple Leafs found themselves in this year. The Bruins trailed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 before they rolled to a 5-1 win in Montreal in the fifth game and pulled out an epic 5-4 win in the sixth game to square the series. The Canadiens, however, rolled to a 5-0 seventh game victory.

Four years prior to that, the Bruins had a 3-1 lead on Montreal. The Canadiens rallied with three straight wins and the Bruins never had the lead in any of those games.

We are not ignoring what happened in 2011. That year, the Bruins won three seven-game series en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

They beat the Canadiens in seven on an overtime goal by Nathan Horton. They took care of the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals on another goal by Horton, this time late in the third period.

They also wrapped up the Stanley Cup with a 4-0 victory at Vancouver in the seventh game.

Undoubtedly, Bruins fans will point to those victories to remember when they became the first team to win three seventh-games in one playoff year.

However, other than that one year, the Bruins' recent history in seventh games has been painful.

They will hope to bury those memories and rekindle 2011 tomorrow night.