Can you tell if one team has an advantage over the other before anthems are sung and the puck is dropped prior to a seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Do you favour the Boston Bruins because of their experience? After all, this will be the ninth time this core group steps onto the ice for a Game 7 in the past seven playoffs. The Bruins have won four of their last five Game 7s, including that dramatic overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens three years ago.
This is a Boston team that is only three years removed from its 2010-11 Stanley Cup crown and was two wins away from celebrating a second championship in three years last spring.
But captain Zdeno Chara, who will play in his 11th career Game 7 on Wednesday, was a step behind in the Canadiens' 4-0 win on Monday. His young blue-line mates also struggled under the spotlight.
Maybe you favour the Canadiens because of that wonderful effort in Game 6? They played with desperation and speed that proved to be too much for the Bruins. Montreal has the momentum and it has goalie Carey Price.
Sure, Tuukka Rask is an outstanding netminder, too. But how can you ignore the clutch performances Price has turned in during the last three months? Cool as a cucumber, the Anahim Lake, B.C., native has gone 4-0 in elimination games in 2014 and only has allowed one shot to slip behind him for a remarkable .990 save percentage.
In 34 meetings between these long-time rivals, this will be the ninth occasion Montreal and Boston have required a seventh game to decide which team moves on. That's a record between two North American sporting franchises.
From that epic Game 7 three years ago, won 4-3 by Boston in overtime, the Bruins have nine players still in the lineup today -- 10 if you count Rask, who backed up Tim Thomas.
Only captain Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, Price, Lars Eller and the dynamic P.K. Subban remain from that Canadiens side, the last time Montreal played in a Game 7. Veteran defenceman Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges were injured. Travis Moen and Ryan White played, but they're unlikely to dress for Montreal at TD Garden on Wednesday.
The Game 7 loss in 2011 was a difficult one for the Canadiens because, a few weeks later, there were the Bruins skating a victory lap around Rogers Arena in Vancouver as Stanley Cup champions. The Habs had the eventual champs on the ropes, but could not deliver the knock-out blow.
'Make sure it counts'
If you recall in that Game 7, it was Subban who tied the game with a power-play blast with 1:57 left in regulation. Nathan Horton, however, scored early in overtime with a bank shot off the skate of Montreal veteran Jeff Halpern.
"The way I see it is it was great to push it to overtime, but we didn't get the job done," said Subban, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday and leads all defenceman with four goals and 12 points in 10 games this post-season.
"I wanted to put another dagger in, but I didn't get my opportunity. I'm sure I'll get my opportunity this time. It's my job to make sure it counts.
"You have to enjoy it," he added. "I don't think I've played a game in this league nervous. And I'm not going to start to do that now."
"It's going to be great. I can't wait for the crowd, the noise, the energy in the building. I can't wait to take that all away from them."
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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