BOSTON, MA - When the buzzer sounds at the end of Game 7 on Wednesday night, the Bruins want to be able to head through the locker room doors, look in the closest mirror, and know that they gave it everything they had.
"You've got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day," said Shawn Thornton, who will be suiting up in the seventh Game 7 of his career. "So everyone should be laying it all on the line. It's true on both sides."
The Bruins had gathered at TD Garden on Tuesday, after flying back late Monday night from Montreal.
"I think desperation is going out there and giving the best shot you can," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "The last thing you want is regrets."
"And if you hold back, and you don't do the things that you can do, and you don't leave it all out on the ice, then you have regrets."
"So that's what desperation's about, leaving it all out there on the ice and then you can walk away knowing that you gave it your best shot."
Wednesday night will mark the ninth Game 7 under Julien. Four of their previous five have ended in triumph, none more gratifying than the Cup-winning Game 7 win in Vancouver in 2011, and none more electrifying than the come-from-behind miraculous Game 7 win over Toronto in 2013.
"Game 7 is Game 7," said Julien. "You go in there, and you give it your best shot, and as a coach, as players, as a team, and you go from there, and we've been through those many times."
"You hope that your experience is going to help you get through those."
That experience comes in the form of players like Thornton, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and the like. It will help that younger players like Dougie Hamilton also had the experience of Game 7 against Toronto.
But younger players like Smith, Fraser, Miller and Krug have all played far beyond their years in the Spoked-B.
"We're pretty fortunate that our young guys are fairly mature individuals. Whether they've been through it or not, they'll be fine, they'll be composed," said Thornton. "I think they're a good bunch. The older guys, who have been here for the last six or seven years, we've been through a bunch, so it should help."
"That doesn't mean it's automatic - we need to come out and do everything we can, but I think the fact that we know how to approach it, definitely helps."
"Embrace it," Thornton quickly smiled. "This is exciting, this is what you play for - playoff hockey, Game 7, this is the good stuff, so enjoy it, embrace it, have fun with it."
Julien is fully confident in his young guns as well.
"It's important for them to go out and just play. I think tomorrow night's a good time for them to just go out there and play, and be themselves," said Julien. "We've always encouraged our young players to be that."
"It's also important for our leaders to pave the way for those guys to be more comfortable and give them that opportunity to play their game."
The entire team's focus can be on just that - playing their game.
"I'm just looking forward to playing the game, coming out hard, coming out strong and having our best game of the series," said Matt Bartkowski, who looked ready to hop out on the ice right that second and get it going.
Game 7 against Toronto last year marked the second game of his postseason career. He scored the first goal of the night in the process (it still marks his first and only NHL goal). He's seen the importance of a strong start firsthand, but also lived through the comeback, knowing it's going to take a complete, full team effort to get the job done.
"We've just got to set the pace," said Bartkowski.
"It's not about changing our game. It's just about focusing on the details and working hard, and focusing on the things that we're good at it," said Hamilton.
For the Black & Gold, it's about skating, moving their feet, being physical, and setting the tone with their forecheck - and it's about leaving it all on the ice.
"As a team, and as an organization, we've always held ourselves to a high standard, and there's a lot of pride in the room, and we want to win," said Gregory Campbell, when asked why there should be faith in this team.
"It's up to us to show that we want to win, and that we can win - but the game is played on the ice, and that's where we have to compete and be ready."
When the puck drops on Wednesday night, the words will have ceased. The only declarations will be made on the ice.
"We have to feed off our crowd, get that energy," said Thornton. "Listen, Game 7s, anything can happen, we're aware of that, but we'd rather have them in our building, than somewhere else."
The Bruins didn't have the jump they needed to get the job done in Game 6. They vow that won't happen in Game 7.
How do they bring it out of themselves?
"It's Game 7," said Krug. "If you don't have it, there's something wrong with you."
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