Pregame Skate: Capitals, Bruins bring us first Game 7 of postseason

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

7:30 ET, Washington at Boston, Game 7 (NBC Sports Network) | Preview

There it is, the magical phrase in sports. Game 7. It doesn't get much better than that, now does it?

The first round is going to treat us hockey fans to three Game 7s this season, all in the Eastern Conference. Two of them will wait until Thursday but what better way to begin than with the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins? After all, they went 3-0 in Game 7 last postseason, including in the first round against the Canadiens.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that means a whole lot, that the Bruins "know how to win" Game 7s. I've never played in a Game 7 and I know how to win them, too: score more goals than your opponent. What last year's success might do, though, is give the Bruins some extra confidence. That's one of the intangibles I can buy into, your confidence level can change the way you play.

But you want reasons for confidence? The Capitals have that too. They have gone toe-to-toe with the Bruins. All six games have been one-goal games thus far. Since we're here at 3-3 in the series, obviously they have each scored the same number of goals: 14. The Caps have already taken two games from Boston in this series at TD Garden. On the season the Caps are 3-1 in Beantown. They can come in with the attitude of "what's one more?"

Or they can come in with a simple of attitude of just win, baby. As they always say, you can throw the numbers out the window for a Game 7.

"You hear about it and you recognize that, but it's not something where we'll say, 'Oh, we're gonna beat them because we've beat them before on their rink,'" Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. "Every game is going to be different. We just really have to remember the simple things and play that simple game."

What the Capitals have been doing to stay in this series has been playing a much more conservative style of hockey, trying to take care of their own end of the ice first. It's led to a lot of blocked shots and they have been keeping the Bruins to the outside for the most part, doing their best to bar Boston from the crease.

They have made Tim Thomas look relatively average thus far compared to his performance a year ago. Washington has done that without too much of an offensive impact from Alex Ovechkin. Sure, he had the game-tying goal late in regulation in Game 6 and has five points in six games. It just doesn't feel like he's making the same impact he was in the second half of the regular season. Maybe that's just because his numbers are down a little and he doesn't like that. Then again, it could mean he's a bit fresher for Game 7.

While I don't know about freshness, the Bruins will likely have Patrice Bergeron ready to go. His line with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand hasn't had the best series and has been split up, but Bergeron is still a massive presence, if for no other reason than his defensive and faceoff abilities.

It's hard to remember, but it really is just another hockey game. It's one with a lot more significance to it, but it's just another hockey game.

"Ultimately, when you get out there on the ice to play, yes. You're trying to do what you've spent, well at my age, tens of thousands of hours practicing in doing," Thomas said. "So yes, ultimately. But having said that, everyone knows it's Game 7, it's do or die, it is different.

"It is its own unique beast."

It might be a beast, but hopefully a beauty, too.

Daily miscellany

  • Marchand has been called a diver by a lot of fans this postseason. His thoughts about that? "They mean nothing." (CSN New England)
  • Roberto Luongo said on Tuesday he'd waive his no-trade clause, and now there's also talk about moving Ryan Kesler out of Vancouver. (Vancouver Sun)
  • So stash this in the no duh drawer; Kings owner says Darryl Sutter was the coach they "needed." (L.A. Times)
  • Why yes, that is some CBA confidence you're hearing coming out of Pittsburgh. (Post-Gazette)
  • Well I'm sure this didn't feel very good for Peter Harrold on Tuesday night. Ouch.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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