Call me a homer. Call me predictable. Call me Eddie Mush from “A Bronx Tale,’’ or call me a cab. I don’t care.
But I love the Bruins in Game 7 Wednesday night. At home. Against the Montreal Canadiens.
And yes, I’m secretly glad the thing went seven. This makes Wednesday that much sweeter. As long as . . . you know. . . the Bruins win. Losing this game is simply unacceptable.
Boston and Montreal have shared Claude Julien, Pat Burns, Tom Johnson, Chris Nilan, Dick Williams, Pedro Martinez, Bill Lee, and Frederick Law Olmsted. But our hockey history runs deep with blood, thunder, and hatred. This Game 7 will be the 902d Bruins-Canadiens game since 1924. It will be the Bruins and Habs’ 171st playoff game against one another, their ninth Game 7 showdown.
In one dismal stretch in the last century, the Canadiens beat the Bruins in 18 consecutive playoff series. Boston’s Baby Boomer fans never will recover from what Ken Dryden and the Habs did to the best Bruins team of all-time in 1971. Former Bruins coach Don Cherry (I think he became a hockey commentator of some sort) recently told Sports Illustrated that Boston’s 1979 Too Many Men On the Ice Penalty at the Forum “for a lot of people . . . was a little like when Kennedy was shot.’’
So there. We have no shortage of hyperbole when it comes to Hub vs. Habs in playoff hockey.
We keep telling ourselves the Bruins are better. They control the puck. They hit posts and crossbars. They have bad luck. But they are the better team.
It will be hard to keep saying the Bruins are the better team if they go into this weekend spitting out pieces of their broken luck while P.K. Subban and friends skate into the conference finals. But that won’t happen.
This will be a night when the Bruins score the first goal to remind the Canadiens that it’s hard to play from behind. The Bruins finally will wear down the annoying, risk-taking, indefatigable Canadiens. The top line will remember how to finish, and Boston’s young defenders won’t be wowed as they were Monday night on the road. The Bruins finally will be rewarded for their puck control and the Habs will pay for their risky, breakout passes. Order will be restored to the 2013-14 NHL hierarchy.
Julien concluded his Monday postgame press conference with, “I expect us to win.’’
I agree with Claude. Puck luck has to change.
Here in the Hub of Hockey, this series has been the polar opposite of the Red Sox’ October 2013 playoff run. Those Sox were not the best team, but they did everything correctly and they got all the breaks. Their Tiger/Cardinal opponents went into the winter scratching their heads and wondering how they lost to the naughty Boston boys who let their facial hair grow long.
It has to change for the Bruins Wednesday. Enough with the clanging of the posts and crossbars. David Krejci and his linemates finally will find the back of the net. Brad Marchand will break his drought. Water-gate Shawn Thornton won’t have to spend the rest of his life apologizing for poking the Habs when the Bruins had the Canadiens staggering at the end of Game 5 in Boston.
It has been interesting to watch the Bruins morph into the villains in this series. It started with the Twitter mess after Game 1, which was followed by Julien’s “crap” complaint, and the notion that Dougie Hamilton said the Bruins had discovered the key to beating Carey Price before Game 3 in Montreal.
Then came Thornton’s squirt-gun stunt, followed by the baiting and goonery at the end of Monday night’s humiliation at the Bell Centre. You could tell Julien was good and fed up when he said, “Although we’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys . . . it’s a rivalry and there are some things going on on both sides . . . I’m not portraying ourselves as innocent here. I’m just saying it takes two teams to [tango].’’
Montreal Gazette hockey columnist Dave Stubbs tweeted this quote from Montreal’s Brandon Prust Tuesday: “I’d rather not stoop to their level. We have a lot of pride in this dressing room . . . They can do whatever they want. We want to beat them on the scoreboard and beat them in the series.’’
This came after the ubiquitous and outstanding Subban told Pierre McGuire, “I hope it gets nasty. I hope it gets dirty. We’re going to be there at the end, standing tall.’’
Big moments in Boston sports don’t get much bigger than this. Final rounds are bigger. The seventh game of the 1975 World Series at Fenway and the seventh game of the 1984 Celtics-Lakers series at the Garden were bigger. The Bruins’ Game 7 conference final win over Tampa in 2011 (a 1-0 beauty with no penalties) was pretty nifty, and who’ll ever forget the comeback from a three-goal deficit in Game 7 against Toronto last spring?
But these are the Montreal Canadiens. And this is not the first round. And expectations for the Bruins haven’t been this high in more than 40 years.
The Bruins have played in at least one Game 7 in seven straight seasons. This will be their ninth Game 7 since 2008. And they are going to win.
The alternative is simply unspeakable.
In English or French.