Toronto coach Mike Babcock thinks his Maple Leafs should cherish the chance to play in Wednesday night's Game 7 of their first-round series with the Boston Bruins.
"You're a kid playing outside road hockey, it's the seventh game and you're scoring a winning goal in overtime," Babcock said after his Leafs won their second straight and evened the series with a 3-1 victory in Toronto on Monday night.
"That's just the way it was your whole life," he continued. "No one else in hockey is playing right now, they're all stopped and watching and that's always some, but I think just the opportunity, you get to go on. I think there's obviously a lot on the line that way and we'd like to play in the next round, Boston wants to play in the next round, something's got to give. We're excited for the opportunity and enjoy the rest of today. Get ready tomorrow.
"...Let's embrace it."
The Boston Red Sox dedicated the 2013 season to being "Boston Strong." Tuesday, Toronto joined the long list of cities attacked in some way when a van jumped a curb and mowed people down. The Leafs paid the proper tribute to the victims before the game, and then rode Frederick Andersen to the win.
Does it carry over in Game 7?
The winner faces the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins surrendering the top spot in the conference with a shaky finish to the regular season.
Also in 2013, the Maple Leafs, who haven't won a playoff series since 2004, led the Bruins 4-1 late in Game 7 and wound up losing in overtime. Tuukka Rask gave up four goals on 28 shots and was not brilliant in that game and his record in elimination games is 5-11, 1-2 in Game 7s.
Tim Thomas won three seventh games and led the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup. Rask lost to Philadelphia in 2010 and to Washington in 2012.
He was poor in Game 5 and guaranteed he'd be better in Game 6. He was, keeping his team in the game in the third period.
His teammates were not as good. The top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, on fire with 20 combined points in the two wins that started the series, have been scoreless in the last two games (plus Game 3) -- Bergeron was out of Game 5 with an upper-body injury and being ineffective in Monday night's game.
The trio has no points and is a combined minus-16 in the Bruins' three series losses.
"It's always how it should be. When you've lived it, you want to share that experience," Bergeron said of playing in another Game 7 (he scored the tying and winning goals in the 2013 comeback). "We have some amazing young players in this locker room and I know they're going to step up. That's the approach that we have.
"Everyone just needs to go out there and play and step up their game up and rely on everybody else to do the same. Do your job, I guess, is kind of the cliche, but that's how you have to approach (a Game 7)."
Andersen, 10-1-0 lifetime against the Bruins coming into these playoffs, shook off a shaky start in the series and has been great since.
The Bruins are trying to win their first playoff series since 2014.