Seventh Heaven

Two huge Game 7’s Monday in the NHL Playoffs! This is what makes the chase for the Stanley Cup so very good! The Leafs and Bruins played last night in hockey-mad Toronto where the Leafs were victorious 2-1, and now have less than 24 hours to decide their season in Boston!

The Rangers and Capitals are in the same boat. They play tonight in Washington after the Rangers triumphed 1-0 at home Sunday to force the decider. No rest, no recovery and nothing but pain standing in the way of the next round for four very battered and bruised teams.

Toronto at Boston:

The Leafs are 12-9 all-time in their history in Game 7 situations, the Bruins are 12-11. The Bruins look like a deflated, and tired team. This is not the ‘Big, Bad Bruins’ – they aren’t even the mildly intimidating Bruins at this point. Boston Head Coach Claude Julien called his side a ‘Jekyll and Hyde Team’ this year – and he is praying that the ‘good’ Bruins show tonight. The Leafs are riding the James Reimer wave at the moment (2.58 GAA, .932 SV%), and the enigmatic Phil Kessel (3G, 1A) has caught fire in the past two games. Who wins this one? If the B’s are to scrape by they need their trio of Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin to finally awake from their funk (combined 1G, 2A), and chip in on the score-sheet. Tuukka Rask has done all that a goalie can do (2.28 GAA, .932 SV%), now his team needs to give him some help in the form of a few timely goals. Toronto have no pressure, nothing to lose in fact. Most people picked the Bruins to steam-roll Toronto. But, the Leafs have shown why the playoffs are the great equaliser! Good goaltending, scoring punch, and a flat out, nothing to lose attitude can force a Game 7.

Prediction: The Bruins will right the ship – but it won’t be easy. Bergeron will have a big game for Boston – and they will advance – barely!

NY Rangers at Washington:

The Rangers are 5-5 all-time in Game 7’s, the Capitals are a very poor 3-8. Washington have been better overall in this series – but I can guarantee that Ranger Coach John Tortorella is pretty happy about a one-game showdown for his side, with ‘King’ Henrik Lundqvist between the NY pipes (1.91 GAA, .937 SV%, 1 S/O). A goalie can win a series, and Lundqvist is among the best in the game. The Capitals have home-ice advantage, and were really starting to heat up at the end of game 6 at MSG. Alex Ovechkin has to get back on track (0 points in past 4 games), and Washington needs to capitalise on any power-play chances they get. The Rangers need Brad Richards or Rick Nash to finally show up in this series – as they have both been mere ghosts (combined 1G, 1A).

Prediction: The Rangers will ride the special abilities of Lundqvist in a tight game. Nash will finally get on the scoreboard, and the Rangers will stay out of the box to squeak this one out.

The home team is 29-16 overall so far in the opening round of these 2013 playoffs – so tonight will get interesting! Enjoy these Game 7’s wherever you’re watching. I’ll have another late night here in Europe – but at this time of year it’s more than worth it! Here’s a fantastic CBC Hockey Night in Canada intro to get you pumped for tonight:

Follow Murph on Twitter throughout the Stanley Cup journey @MurphOnIce

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