|Bruins-Capitals Game 7 preview: Seven stats, players to watch and keys to victory||04.25.12 at 12:08 am ET|
It’s all about seven as the Bruins host the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Here’s everything you need to know and more, with seven the central theme.
• According to some impressive research done by Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, Jay Beagle has an incredible 61.6 success rate in the faceoff circle (53-for-86). Even more impressive is that he’s won 13-of-21 faceoffs against Patrice Bergeron, who led the league in faceoff wins during the regular season.
• Tim Thomas‘ 14 goals allowed through the first six games of the series equals the total he allowed in the first six games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season against the Canadiens. He faced only 12 more shots against the Habs through six than he has entering Wednesday’s Game 7.
• Alexander Ovechkin has two goals and two assists for four points and a minus-1 rating in four career Game 7s. He and the Capitals have gone 1-3 in those games.
This series, Ovechkin is tied with Rich Peverley with five points.
• Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic each have four career points in Game 7s to lead the Bruins. Lucic has three goals and an assist in six Game 7s while Marchand had two goals and two assists in three Game 7s last postseason.
• This series is the only one in NHL history to have the first six games decided by one goal. Both teams have scored 14 goals apiece with no empty-netters.
• Dennis Seidenberg has played in four Game 7s and won them all. He has four assists and plus-4 rating in those games, and has never had a negative rating in a Game 7.
• The Bruins have scored on the power play in just one of their six Game 7s since 2008. That game was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, a contest in which they scored two on the man advantage. Since 2008, the B’s are 2-for-13 on the power play in Game 7s.
SEVEN PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Patrice Bergeron — Can he take faceoffs? Will he play center? Bergeron scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 against the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.
• Braden Holtby — The Bruins may have figured out the book on Holtby. They tried exposing his aggressiveness multiple times in Game 6, and it worked on Tyler Seguin’s game-winning goal.
• Tim Thomas — He’s coming off back-to-back Game 7 shutouts (Eastern Conference finals vs. Tampa Bay and Stanley Cup finals vs. Vancouver).
• Shawn Thornton – Can the B’s really play this game without him? If Bergeron’s situation isn’t crystal clear, they could opt for Jordan Caron instead of Thornton, but the B’s could also keep Thornton in the lineup and move someone like Benoit Pouliot or Daniel Paille up should anything happen to Bergeron.
• Tyler Seguin – In the past, big moments have gotten Seguin to engage himself a little more. Following his four-point Game 2 against the Lightning last year, he played a much more complete game in Game 3, drawing defenders to him by holding on to the puck rather than dishing it immediately to avoid contact. While he didn’t get a point in that Game 3, he started a play that led to an Andrew Ference goal. Will he follow up Sunday’s game-winner with his best game of the series or will he revert back to the quieter Seguin from earlier in the series?
• Jeff Schultz — It appears that John Erskine‘s time in the lineup is over after playing in the last three games, as Schultz reportedly skated on Dennis Wideman‘s pairing in Monday’s practice. Schultz was a minus-4 in the first three games of the series, tying him with Wideman for the worst rating on the Capitals this postseason.
• Rich Peverley — The versatile forward was the best player on the ice for the Bruins in Game 6 and leads the B’s with three goals and two assists for five points this postseason. He was clutch in winning 13 of 24 faceoffs (54.2 percent) with Bergeron unable to take draws.
SEVEN THINGS THE BRUINS MUST DO
• Let Thomas do his thing – The last time Thomas allowed a goal in a Game 7 was when P.K. Subban‘s blast tied the game in the third period of the first round last year.
• Keep the power play productive — It’s a Game 7, so you never know how many (if any) penalties will be called. The B’s need to keep their good fortune going after scoring on the man advantage in back-to-back games.
• Put pressure on Holtby — That reads “put pressure,” not “put a lot of shots from outside the perimeter.” The Bruins have gotten better looks at Holtby in recent games, and even a few good rushes. The key is beating that defense, not solving the rookie netminder.
• Use the experience that matters — Enough about the Bruins’ Game 7 experience giving them the edge. How about their Game 6 experience from Sunday? The Bruins went into the Verizon Center and took the momentum back.
• Keep Ovechkin quiet — The Capitals’ captain has points in four of the series’ first six games. The B’s have last change, so they can keep Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara out there against him.
• Stay out of the box: Pouliot has had third-period penalties in the last two games. Both have been somewhat ticky-tacky, but his slashing penalty in Game 5 led to Washington’s game-winning goal. Chara has taken minor penalties in four games this series, while Bergeron had two offensive-zone penalties in Game 6. Any of those things happening would be a nightmare for the B’s on Wednesday.
• Avoid what could be — The Bruins could face either the Senators, Flyers or Panthers in the second round, and they would definitely face Ottawa if both teams were to win. That was the matchup that everyone wanted for the Bruins in the first round, so it would be an ideal situation for the B’s. They shouldn’t be looking that far ahead, though. They’ve got to focus on the task at hand.
SEVENTH HEAVEN THEME SONG
Arielle Aronson contributed to this report.
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