It all comes down to this.
Tonight at the TD Garden, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will add yet another chapter in their storied rivalry that dates back to when Woodrow Wilson was President and the Great Depression was eerily looming on the horizon.
The two team’s last chapter came back in 2013 and contained this exact same situation: the Leafs coming from 3-1 down in the series to force a seventh game at TD Garden.
This time around, the Leafs look a lot different than they did back in April of 2013. In net is the now-red hot Frederik Andersen compared to the irrelevant James Reimer back in ’13. A young core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander highlight a forward group that were watching the 2013 thriller from their couches.
The Leafs are confident heading into tonight’s matchup as evident from head coach Mike Babcock.
“We think we’re going to win,” said Babcock. “We’ve thought that all along, and we’ve crawled our way back and now we have the opportunity of a lifetime. This is where you want to be.”
In other words, the pressure is all on the Bruins tonight.
However, the veterans of the B’s don’t seem to be phased.
“Hopefully we can rely on some experiences that we’ve had in the past and share that with the group,” said Patrice Bergeron. “At the end of the day it’s a hockey game and we have to go out there and execute.”
On what it means to play in a Game 7, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug seemed optimistic and excited.
“It’s tough to put into words,” said the puck-moving defenseman. “It’s a lot of fun. You dream about it and being the hero. It’s a big situation.”
Indeed it is. For the first time in the series, the Bruins have their backs against the wall.
“I think the team that changes the least for Game 7 is probably going to be the one that wins,” said Bruins forward David Backes.
And that’s exactly what Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy is doing: no lineup changes. It’s the group they’ve had out there all year.
“This is the group we envisioned and the group we trust to get it done,” Cassidy told the media.
The mood around Boston is tense, yet excited for what should be the most thrilling and highly-anticipated Bruins game since 2013.
Here’s what the starting lineups should look like for Game 7 between the Bruins and Maple Leafs.
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Rick Nash
Heinen – Riley Nash – Backes
Schaller – Kuraly – Acciari
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Miller
Grzelcyk – McQuaid
Hyman – Matthews – Brown
Marleau – Kadri – Marner
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Kapanen
Komarov – Plekanec – Nylander
Rielly – Hainsey
Gardiner – Zaitsev
Dermott – Polak