Leafs, Bruins offer intriguing Game 7 storylines | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaLeafs, Bruins offer intriguing Game 7 storylines

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2013 | 12:33 PM

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There is an undeniable aura about a Game 7, as Original Six rivals like the Maple Leafs and Bruins will most certainly attest. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) There is an undeniable aura about a Game 7, as Original Six rivals like the Maple Leafs and Bruins will most certainly attest. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

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Three storylines for Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET).

Three storylines for Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET). The Eastern Conference quarter-final is tied at 3-3:

1. Will Toronto's playoff inexperience hinder its performance?

It could. The Maple Leafs have exhibited in new situations, namely the series opener and Game 3 (the first game on home ice), that they're capable of jitters. But clearly, when facing elimination, goalie James Reimer and his teammates have held up quite well under pressure.

The Bruins have the edge in experience, competing in a Game 7 for the eighth time in the past six seasons.

In 2011, the Bruins became the first club in NHL history to win three Game 7s in one playoff year, eliminating the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference quarter-finals and final, respectively, and beating the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup final.

However, Boston dropped a seven-game decision to the Washington Capitals in the conference quarter-finals last spring.

On top of all this were the Bruins travel problems. Due to mechanical problems with their charter plane, they were forced to spend the night in Toronto before flying to Boston this morning. The Maple Leafs flew to Boston immediately after Sunday's 2-1 win.

Expect a close game tonight. In the last eight first-round playoff games this spring, each one has been decided by a goal.

The Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet in a Game 7 for just the third time in their 89-season rivalry and for the first time since April 7, 1959, when Toronto skated away with a 3-2 win at Boston Garden to win that Stanley Cup semifinal series.

2. Will Bozak or Ference return to their respective lineups?

There is plenty of mystery surrounding the injuries to these key players. Both Tyler Bozak and Andrew Ference missed Game 6 with undisclosed ailments. More will become clearer closer to game time because neither team held a morning skate at TD Garden on Monday.

Both skaters are key ingredients in their team's success. Ference is a Top 4 defencemen, usually partnered with Johnny Boychuk on Boston's second pairing. Ference kills penalties and sees the occasional shift on the power play, although veteran Wade Redden has been more effective in that role in this series.

Bozak has become Toronto's top faceoff man and centres the top line. He scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 en route to a 2-1 win in Game 5.

3. Does a team that wins both Games 5 and 6 carry an advantage?

This edition of the Maple Leafs became the 48th team to trail 3-1 in a series and force a seventh and deciding game. Historically, teams in that situation are 24-23 in Game 7.

The Maple Leafs feel good about their chances at TD Garden, having won the last two games played there. As Bruins head coach Claude Julien told reporters following Game 6, his club has been Jekyll and Hyde all season.

A lot depends on which Bruins team shows up. Even though Boston is only 23 months removed from a Stanley Cup championship, there are some bad memories mixed in, too, like blowing a 3-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and losing Game 7 to Washington in the first round a year ago.

"Different teams, different series," said Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, who was part of the Flyers comeback win three years ago. "But whatever advice I can give my teammates, I will pass on."

Projected lineup for Toronto

Offence:

Joffrey Lupul - Joe Colborne - Matt Frattin

James van Riemsdyk - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Clarke MacArthur - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel

Leo Komarov - Jay McClement - Colton Orr

Defence:

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

John-Michael Liles - Ryan O'Byrne

Goaltender:

James Reimer

Projected lineup for Boston

Offence:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin

Rich Peverley - Chris Kelly - Jaromir Jagr

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Defence:

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg

Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk

Wade Redden - Adam McQuaid

Goaltender:

Tuukka Rask

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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