2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 7 Experience? Florida Panthers Lose That Battle v Bruins
It has been said that the two greatest words in the sports word are ‘Game 7.’ Tonight, the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins will experience one as they wrap up their opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
One team will be moving on and continuing to chase their holy grail.
The other will have a long offseason.
“It is a special game, it really is,” Matthew Tkachuk said on Saturday morning before his team took off for Boston. “I have only played in one and we won it last year. There really is no better feeling. The whole game, leading up to it, the pressure of it. The enjoyment. The team that comes out and wants to have the most fun, is loose and wants to make a difference is the team that usually comes out of it.
“Again, I have only played in one and it’s the favorite game I have ever played in. Hopefully (Sunday) tops that one.”
When it comes to experiencing what a Game 7 entails, the Panthers do not have much of a history.
The organization has only played in two Game 7s through its 28 seasons: Florida won the 1996 Eastern Conference final in Pittsburgh and lost in double-overtime to the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
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Florida’s roster also only has a handful of players who have been through this before. The Staal Brothers, Marc and Eric, have a combined 13 between them. Tkachuk (Calgary) and Brandon Montour (Anaheim) have played in one apiece.
On the flip side, the Bruins won three Game 7s in 2011 alone as they won the Stanley Cup over Vancouver. They have not been as successful in win-or-go-home games since, but at least they have experienced them.
Florida coach Paul Maurice, who said he would take a seven-game series way back when the Panthers tied the series in Game 2, said Saturday that the Panthers will experience all of this pressure together.
As usual, he put a spin on it.
“They have something like 1,400 playoff games and that’s a lot,” said Maurice, who is 3-0 in Game 7s as a coach. “The freedom of youth, of inexperience can be very valuable. I don’t know the answer to that question yet. I heard a great line about experience and don’t know if it applies or not: If you have lived the same year for 20 years, you don’t have 20 years experience, you just lived the same year 20 times.
“Experience is a funny thing. Unless you are growing and doing different things in those 20 years, you’re just doing the same damn thing over and over again. Each team will have advantages and disadvantages going into this game. And they’ll be different. I believe that.”
The Panthers, as one would expect, appear excited to be in this spot.
Florida was down 3-1 in this series after losing at home last Sunday night and now, one week later, are a win away from playing Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
If the Panthers win, they may as well head straight to Ontario.
They are not thinking about the Maple Leafs right now — although their fans may be thinking about the Panthers.
“WE WANT FLORIDA!” chants in Toronto right now 🤭 pic.twitter.com/zdVa9x7HKU
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 30, 2023
All that is on their mind is the task at hand — and that is beating the best regular season team the NHL has ever seen for a third consecutive game.
The Bruins have only had one three-game losing streak in their historic 2022-23 season. They are going to give everything they have to avoid a second.
The Panthers have a feeling for what they are in for tonight, but do they really know what is in store for them?
Regardless, they’re going to find out soon enough.
“We’re excited,” captain Sasha Barkov said. “We have played playoff games for a while, since like February or March. We have been playing that type of game, battling for our lives. This was like nothing new to us.”
“A Game 7 is pretty impossible to predict,’’ Tkachuk said.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 7 (Series Tied 3-3)
- When: Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: Boston 6, @Florida 2; Game 5: Florida 4, @Boston 3 (OT); Game 6: @Florida 7, Boston 5; Game 7: at Boston, Sunday, 6:30 (BSF, TNT).
- Up Next: Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
Never really believed that experience thing,talent and execution are far more important