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What will it take for Jets to thrash Predators? 3 retired hockey stars reflect on pressure of Game 7

What does it take to win a do-or-die game? Former hockey stars are giving their insight on what the Jets need to do to win the series finale.

Joe Daley, Laurie Boschman, Jennifer Botterill says Jets need to calm nerves, channel energy in must-win game

Joe Daley, who was a goalie for the Winnipeg Jets from 1972-1979, said the first goal in Game 7 will be the most important. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The Winnipeg Jets will need to calm their nerves and channel their energy when they hit the ice in Nashville Thursday night, according to a trio of expert fans who have each felt the pressure of a must-win game.

"The coach can't say much more at this stage of this season than what he's said all season," said retired goaltender Joe Daley, who played for the Jets from 1972-1979.

"It's not going to be a pep talk or a rally. The players know the importance of the game."

It's a must-win game for the Jets, who are tied 3-3 in their second-round playoff series with the Nashville Predators. The winner of Thursday's game goes on to the Western Conference finals, while the season ends for the losing team.

Winnipeg Jets fans are giving their team some words of wisdom and encouragement ahead of Thursday night's series finale. 0:28

Daley remembers how he felt in 1977 going into Game 7 in Quebec for the World Hockey Association's Avco Cup championship, which the Jets lost.

"Obviously you're nervous because you don't have a chance to recover if you lose."

The first goal in Game 7 will be the most important, he said.

'So many factors' in 7th game

Laurie Boschman remembers the tremendous feeling coming out of the tunnel before a winner-takes-all game and the barrage of white he saw going out onto the ice.

Laurie Boschman remembers the feeling of coming out of the tunnel before a winner-takes-all game and the wave of white he saw going out onto the ice. (Panini Stickers)
"It's pretty outstanding," said Boschman, who played centre for the Jets from 1983-1990.

"There's so many factors that can happen."

Looking back on his career and the series-ending games in which he played, Boschman said not much changes for players on the ice even though the stakes are high for fans.

"Our focus is pretty much on what brought you success and what brought you to this point, and there may be a tweak or two to the game plan but as a player, you're focused on just what you bring to your team in order to gain some success in order to win."

Channel nerves: Botterill

For Jennifer Botterill, a retired three-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian women's hockey team, learning to channel nervousness into something productive is one of the things she credits with helping her thrive.

A Game 7 is always intense for both fans and players, says Jennifer Botterill. (File photo)

"I think back when myself and my team performed really well, it was sort of having a bit of that smile on your face even though it's super intense, it's super competitive," said Botterill, who is now a motivational speaker.

"I don't think at this stage of the season either a fan or a player is going to sit back and say, 'Aw, this is nothing.'"

That's a sentiment Daley agreed with.

"This is the greatest thing that's happening to them and certainly as a fan in Winnipeg, we're all very anxious and very nervous for the game, but we're probably more nervous than the players to be honest with you," he said.

Retired hockey stars reflect on pressure of Game 7. 1:48

The Winnipeg Jets take on the Nashville Predators for Game 7 at 7 p.m.CT Thursday. CBC TV will broadcast the final game in the second-round Western Conference series.

About the Author

​Austin Grabish landed his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. This past summer, he was on the ground in northern Manitoba covering the manhunt for B.C. fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, which attracted international attention. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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