Game 7 of an NHL playoff series. Does it get any better?
Tonight, the New York Rangers take on the Washington Capitals while the Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Boston Bruins.
Winners advance, losers go home.
In one game, one player can make all the difference.
Let's take a look at a key player on each team who can be that difference-maker and propel his club to the second round.
New York Rangers: Derick Brassard, Center
If it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Derick Brassard has been the go-to-guy for the New York Rangers in these NHL playoffs.
Brassard leads the team in points this series with seven (two goals and five assists). No other Rangers player has more than four points in the series.
The Rangers will need Brassard to create offense for them in Washington tonight. Unfortunately for New York, Brassard only has one of his seven points away from home in this series.
This trend will need to change tonight.
Brassard has seen his ice time increase in every game, minus the most recent Game 6 in which he played 19:48.
Look for Brassard to be active as a playmaker in Game 7.
Washington Capitals: Braden Holtby, Goaltender
It is tough to pinpoint a Capitals skater who can be considered a key for the team tonight.
Mike Green, a defenseman, leads the team in goals this postseason with two. The rest of the team is bunched together with a cluster of players sitting on one goal.
For this reason, goalie Braden Holtby needs to be clutch on his home ice tonight.
Holtby has shown flashes of brilliance in this series, especially at home. In Washington, the Capitals' netminder has only allowed two goals in three games, including a shutout in Game 2.
His save percentage sits at .938 for the series.
Holtby may be called upon to bail his team out tonight if the Caps offense runs stagnant. Luckily for Washington, Holtby has shown he is capable of doing so.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel, Right Wing
Playing against his former team, Phil Kessel has proven that he is still a weapon that must be dealt with by the Boston Bruins' defense.
Kessel is second on the Leafs this postseason in shots on goal with 27.
The Leafs' scoring has been spread out for the most part, but Kessel is tied for the team lead in that department with three tallies.
Kessel scored the eventual game-winner in Game 6 on Sunday night, a sign that the clutch factor is there for the right-winger.
Look for this Game 7 to be tight and for Kessel to cause plenty of havoc throughout.
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara, Defenseman
While David Krejci is leading the Bruins in points, goals and assists this postseason, defenseman Zdeno Chara is the key for tonight's game.
The Bruins have the luxury of a big-bodied, creative defenseman in Chara.
In this series, Chara has scored once and assisted on six goals—an astounding number for a defenseman.
Boston relies on Chara to be its best defender as well and he has the ability to take players out of the game with his intimidating frame.
Chara has logged an average ice time of 27:46 this series, well ahead of any other Bruins players.
Tonight, look for Chara to be solid as usual in the back while consistently firing that rocket of his from the blue line.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!