April 25, 2012

Kelly, Bruins hope to seize the moment in Game 7

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON -- There’s only so many ways you can stress the importance of tonight’s tilt at TD Garden. 

Chris Kelly's overtime goal in Game 1 gave the Bruins their lone home win thus far in the playoffs. (Getty Images)

The Bruins and Capitals will take to the ice for Game 7 this evening. The winner moves on. The loser goes home. After 82 regular season games and six playoff contests, it all comes down to this for the B’s and Caps.

“Well, I mean, it’s a Game 7,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think its Game 7 for both teams. I think our guys are ready for it and I’m sure they are, too. There’s not much you can say about those games except that you come ready to play, you do the best you can, you try and be as focused and poised and everything else that you can be. You try and control the things that you can and hope that those are the elements that are going to help you succeed.”

Seventh games are a special event in the wide world of sports, but for Bruins center Chris Kelly, his preparation process will be the same as it always has been.

“Long nap, lunch – same thing I’ve done for the last 600 or 700 plus games that I’ve played,” Kelly said. “The exact same thing – skate, eat, nap, come back.”

The veteran forward stressed the importance of the Bruins remaining even-keeled coming into the do-or-die battle against Washington, starting from the moment they woke up.

“Obviously, you can’t get too high or too low in these situations,” Kelly said. “I think being through these types of games in hockey throughout our lives is a good thing. I woke up ready to come to the rink and skate this morning and do all the fun things that I do every other day when I come in the rink.”

As nerve-wracking as such games may be, Kelly and the B’s are excited about the challenge that lies ahead of them.

“Yeah this is a great opportunity,” he said. “I think that’s how you should look at it. This is an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get a chance to take advantage of or be part of. I never had the opportunity to play in a Game 7 until I got here last year and that was one of those things that I remember thinking going against Montreal. 

“For one, I got to play the Montreal Canadians in the playoffs, which was something that was pretty neat and then I got to play Game 7. I didn’t think I’d get to play three of them, but this is just a great opportunity.”

Kelly -- who scored a third-period goal in Boston’s 4-3 overtime win over the Canadiens in Game 7 last spring – is confident the Black and Gold will receive a nice boost from the Garden faithful tonight.

“Yeah it’s always great to have that Game 7 at home,” he said. “We’ve worked hard all year to put ourselves in this position and there’s no better place than playing in front of our fans in Boston here, so we’re excited.”

If the game goes the way Kelly and the Bruins hope it will, the crowd will be at its loudest when that final horn sounds.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.