NHL·Preview

Bruins coach preaches sticking to routine in hours before Game 7

For the second straight year, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins have taken a series to the limit, with the winner of Tuesday's tilt at TD Garden (CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET) heading to the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals against Columbus.

Bruce Cassidy's charges, Leafs take 1st-round series to limit for second straight year

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy says his players "are a bit like dogs" and love routines, especially on game days, so he doesn’t see them deviating from that approach leading up to Tuesday night’s Game 7 versus the visiting Maple Leafs. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy doesn't want to change too much heading into Game 7 of Boston's first-round series against Toronto, explaining that his players "are a bit like dogs."

"They love routines, especially on game days," he said after the team's practice on Monday. "So I think you try to stay as close to the routine as possible."

Now all Cassidy needs to know is if he's got a locker room full of bloodhounds, in single-minded pursuit of their quarry, or some cuddly golden retrievers that just want a belly rub.

For the second straight year, the Bruins and Maple Leafs have taken a series to the limit. The winner of Tuesday's game (CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET) will head to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo set the scene for Game 7:

CBC's Rob Pizzo previews the nail-biting Game 7 showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. 5:44
The Bruins earned the right to play Game 7 at home by finishing seven points up on the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division, but home-ice advantage hasn't meant much so far in the series. No team has won two in a row over the first six games; Boston would need to break that streak to advance.
The Bruins' Torey Krug describes fellow defenceman Zdeno Chara as a "calming influence" ahead of Tuesday night’s playoff game against the visiting Maple Leafs. Chara will tie the NHL record by appearing in the 13th Game 7 of his career. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images))

Forgettable Game 7s

"It's exciting. Game 7. It's what you play for," defenceman Zdeno Chara said. "Everything's on the line."

The Leafs could have ended this one in six games, but Boston won in Toronto 4-2 on Sunday to send a shiver through the city: In 2013, the Leafs led the Bruins by three goals in the third period of Game 7 before losing in overtime.

When you see he has that look in his eye, it definitely brings another dimension to this team.— Bruins' Torey Krug on fellow defenceman Zdeno Chara
Last year, Toronto led Game 7 last year 4-3 heading into the third period but lost 7-4. Only one player from the unprecedented 2013 collapse will be in uniform on Tuesday night (Jake Gardiner; Nazem Kadri has been suspended).

"It's a new set of circumstances," Leafs forward John Tavares, who was signed as a free agent last off-season, told The Canadian Press after Game 6. "It's a lot of guys who haven't been here, including myself."

When the Maple Leafs signed John Tavares last summer, they had moments like these in mind.

"To get to where we ultimately want to get to and achieve the ultimate goal and play for a Stanley Cup, you're going to have opportunities like this," Tavares said after the Leafs' Tuesday morning skate at TD Garden. "These are the things you've got to go through — games you've got to find ways to win.

"It's playoff hockey. This is what it's all about. You just go out there and leave it all on the line."

There are five Bruins left from the '13 comeback: Chara, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci. When Chara takes the ice, he will tie the NHL record (Patrick Roy, Scott Stevens) by appearing in the 13th Game 7 of his career.

Golden Knights, Sharks also playing Game 7

He has four assists and a 5-7 record in those games.

"He's seen it all, right?" Bruins defenceman Torey Krug said. "He's been a calming influence every single time he steps on the ice for our team. … When you see he has that look in his eye, it definitely brings another dimension to this team."

With Vegas and San Jose also going to a seventh game on Tuesday night, it will be the first time the NHL will hold a pair of Game 7s on the same day since May 10, 2017, when Pittsburgh beat Washington and Anaheim beat Edmonton to reach their respective conference finals.

"The two series they were saying were pretty evenly matched were us and San Jose-Vegas," Cassidy said. "So here we are."

Added Maple Leafs bench boss Mike Babcock: "It's two really good teams that are playing. As you look at the National Hockey League you see lots, you see how tight it is. The biggest thing for me is we're going in the right direction. We're building a program that I think is giving us a real opportunity. We've been here before.

"We feel like we're set up better to do it. You've got to keep pushing till you get through these opportunities and you keep advancing. That's a challenge for us."

With files from The Canadian Press

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