This Game 7 Trend Underscores Importance Of Better Bruins Start

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Bruins coach Jim Montgomery was encouraged by what he saw from his team in the second half of Thursday night’s loss. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the damage done in the first half.

The Bruins will play for their season Saturday night in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs after Toronto forced the winner-take-all showdown with a Game 6 win Thursday night on home ice. Toronto was shot out of a cannon to open Game 6, the desperation propelling them against a flat-footed Bruins team.

Montgomery lamented his team’s start in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Leafs, calling the early showing “unacceptable.” Now, with one game to decide the series, the Bruins can’t afford to suffer a similar fate, especially considering how important it is to have the upper hand in the do-or-die showdown.

There have been 194 Game 7s in Stanley Cup playoff history, and the team that scores first has won 147. That means the team that lights the lamp first goes on to win nearly 80% of the time. Last spring, in four Game 7s, the team that scored first was 4-0, including the Florida Panthers, who came into Boston and won the deciding game in overtime at TD Garden.

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The Bruins should know this better than anyone, though. Counting last season, the Bruins have failed to score first in their last three Game 7s and have lost all three. They’re just 2-4 in the last 10 years in do-or-die situations, failing to score first in five of those six games.

The slow starts in this series haven’t been exclusive to Thursday night. Toronto has scored first in three of the last four games in this series, and their Game 6 showing — in which the Bruins went 27 minutes of game time without a five-on-five shot on goal — might have been their best yet.

“They’ve started well every game,” Bruins captain Brad Marchand told reporters after the game. “They’re prepared to play from the first shift, and we need to be better in that area.

“I think we had maybe one game where we started as good or better than them. Last couple of games, they started really hard and kind of carried the momentum through the first period, so we have to do a much better job.”

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Either way, something has to give on Saturday night. The Bruins have lost their last three Game 7s (two of those on home ice), but Toronto hasn’t won a Game 7 since 2013, a run that includes three losses in Boston.

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