BOSTON (CBS) — As is usually the case with a Bruins-Canadiens playoff series, this one will come down to a decisive Game 7.
The two teams will square off Wednesday night at the TD Garden with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on the line. This will be the ninth time the two teams meet in a winner-takes-all Game 7, with Montreal holding a 5-3 edge. But the Bruins won the last Game 7 showdown, besting Montreal in overtime in the first round in 2011.
The Bruins are here because they couldn’t do anything right in Monday night’s 4-0 Game 6 loss. Matt Kalman of CBSBostonsports.com joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Tuesday night to look ahead to Game 7.
Despite Boston’s struggles on offense in Game 6, Kalman doesn’t see any changes from head coach Claude Julien for Wednesday night.
“You have to stick with it at this point,” he said. “Maybe earlier in the series when they were struggling and getting a lot of their shots blocked; Games 3 and 4 when they weren’t generating a lot, maybe you could have juggled the lines at that point. But now, especially with Claude’s philosophy and in general, any coach would stick with what got you here and hope that things start to clicks.”
“We know these guys can be better,” said Kalman, singling out the struggling David Krejci and Brad Marchand. “These guys are supposed to be better players than they’ve been in the last couple of weeks. You have to hope they have one game in them so they can keep this season going.”
Krejci has just three points in the postseason on three assists, with just one of those coming against Montreal. He’s a minus-two for the series and said he would get off the scoring schnide prior to Game 6, but that obviously did not happen. Kalman said some of Krejci’s struggles were because his linemates were also slumping, but he has seen some signs of a potential breakout.
“Especially early in the series (Milan) Lucic and (Jarome) Iginla weren’t playing well either, and [Krejci] relies on those guys to make space for him,” said Kalman. “Those guys have picked it up and he’s taken some time to catch on. I thought in Game 6 that line was probably their best line despite the fact they didn’t do anything. They were putting pressure on for most of that five-minute stretch where they were pounding on Montreal.”
As for Marchand, he has five assists in the series but still has yet to find the back of the net. He’s had numerous chances but hasn’t been able to finish any of them.
“The Marchand thing goes back to last year; 19 straight playoff games without a goal. He does a lot of talking and agitating, but at what cost?” asked Kalman. “You’re not getting production out of that guy and it’s hurting that line. Patrice Bergeron is losing a little confidence, not sure what to do. Reilly Smith has been playing well and is the one carrying that line. They need to come together because they rely on that line more than anything. It has to be great for this team to get by and into the next round.”
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has looked human at times during the series, with a .910 save percentage and 16 goals allowed, but Kalman said he’s the one player he isn’t worried about heading into Game 7.
“It’s hard to gauge how he’s been in this series,” Kalman said of the Vezina finalist. “The numbers aren’t there and he’s been outplayed a little bit. Boston has had the better chances but Carey Price has been up to it.
“The way this team is built they don’t need him to be spectacular, they just need him to be very good,” continued Kalman. “That’s the whole key here. If they could have scored some goals they would have won this series already. He’s the player I worry the least about on this team.”