Levine: Nothing logical about Game 7


Levine: Nothing logical about Game 7

By Rich Levine

In the 39 years since the Bruins last won it all, the Stanley Cup Finals have gone the distance seven times. But of those seven series, only two played out as systematically as this years classic between the Bs and Canucks.

The first was in 2003: New Jersey Devils vs. Gordon Bombays Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In that series, the Devils took the first two games at home, before losing the next two on the road. They won Game 5 at home, lost Game 6 on the road and the teams headed into Game 7 with neither having won on the other's ice.

The same thing happened in 2009, when the Red Wings took a 2-0 lead at home against the Penguins, before the series fell into that same rare but predictable pattern.

One were all pretty sick of here in Boston.

Over the last two weeks the Bruins and Canucks have played one series on two very different planes. Theres the Vancouver series, where the Bruins sticks go soft and Tim Thomas gambles with the success rate of Antoine Walker. In Vancouver, the Canucks are mentally tougher and find greater strength in the biggest moments; they dictate the action. Meanwhile, Roberto Luongo turns into Patrick Roy (but still looks like Jean Girard from Talladega Nights). The Bruins havent played poorly north of the border, but for one reason or another, theyve never played well enough to win.

Then theres the Boston series. In Boston, the Bruins are unbeatable. The games are so one-sided that you wonder (regardless of whether theyre playing in Boston, Vancouver or Mars) how the Bs could ever lose. Theyre a better team in every facet of the game. Theyre the best team in the league.

But unfortunately, you know the deal. Tonight, with everything on the line, the Bruins wont have the luxury of home ice. Instead, theyll get a fourth chance to win a Stanley Cup road game; a chance bestowed on only two other teams in the last 40 years. Can they do it? Can they break the cycle?

The Ducks couldnt. In 2003, they rode into Game 7 on the back of super goalie Jean Sebastian Giguere (who stepped into the starting role after Goldberg got the chicken pox), but fell to the Devils, 3-0. And if were being honest, no one would be shocked if the Bruins experienced a similar fate.

As great as the entire city feels after the latest Boston beatdown, weve been here before. We know how things change up in Canada, and that as great as the Bruins looked on Monday, the Canucks are apt to look even better tonight. Just like the Bruins, Vancouvers a different team at home. And that home-ice advantage theyve thrived on so far? Tonight it will reach its apex. Game 7 will be louder and crazier than anything the Bruins have ever faced.

Throughout NHL history, road teams are a combined 3-12 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Regardless of what happens in the previous six games, its always rare for the road team to go home happy. And when you talk about the seven Game 7's since the Bruins last won? The road team is 1-6.

But when you talk about that one, the one team that defied the odds and reached the Promise Land on an opponents ice?

Youre talking about the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.

A team that spent an entire series proving that they couldnt get it done at the Red Wings' rink, but in the end only reminded us of an important lesson.

When it comes to Game 7, you can cite all the facts you want. You can hark back to history, both ancient and recent. You can find every single logical reason why something might or should or will likely happen and stick to those guns like theyre smothered in Luongos greasy hair gel.

But if you do, youre missing the boat.

Because when it comes down to it, Game 7 isnt a time to be realistic. Its not about logic. Its not a time to care about whats happened, because moving forward, anything can happen. Game 7 is Rams-Patriots in 2002. Its Patriots-Giants in 2008. Its every single upset in the history of March Madness. Its stupid. Its illogical. Its . . .

Its tonight.

So lets just cut loose and get lost in the moment, instead of the details of last two weeks.

The Bruins are 60 minutes away from their first Stanley Cup title in 39 years, and who knows how long it will be until they get this close again.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.


In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.


Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.


Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season.