“You can talk about the finality of a Game 7 if it doesn’t go your way, but for us, it’s on your effort and execution,” he said.
The Bruins were 15-13 all-time in Game 7s, but 1-4 on the road. If they needed proof that they could overcome long odds, Cassidy said they already had it after climbing out of a two-games-to-none hole in this series.
“I think our guys understand how we’ve gotten back into this series and here we are,” Cassidy said.
In his first Game 7, rookie goalie jeremy swayman had the same relaxed-but-ready demeanor he’s had before every other game this season. Cassidy left it to goaltending coach Bob Essensa to check in before the game.
“I don’t want to get in Swayman’s head or anybody’s head,” Cassidy said.
He didn’t have to drive home the importance of the game.
“He never changes,” Cassidy said. “It’s a great challenge for him.”
Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta was in the same position, playing in his first Game 7.
“It’s a great challenge for him,” Cassidy said. “For both of them, that’s how you start establishing your legacy.”
Nick Foligno battling without the numbers to show for it
Nick Foligno’s played a thankless role on the fourth line all season. He was rewarded in Game 6 with an assist on a third-period goal by Curtis LazarFoligno’s first point of the series.
Cassidy understood how different this is for Foligno, a player with 61 games worth of playoff experience, including a 10-game run two years ago in which he scored two goals and had four assists with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s tough to play that role and never show up on the score sheet when you’ve typically done it,” Cassidy said. “If you’ve been a guy that’s never been on the scoresheet for 10 years in the league, you sort of learn how to. But he has been, so that’s the adjustment, not to let it bother him and block out some of the comments or whatever if that’s what he’s hearing about his numbers from him, because he’s not in a role where he’s going to put up great numbers . ”
It hasn’t been easy.
“He doesn’t love it,” Cassidy said. “He wants to play more. They all do. He’s had 1,000 games in the NHL and he’s used to playing more and having a bigger role. We’ve discussed that as the year’s gone on, that’s what’s there for him. I would appreciate it — and the team would — if he accepted it and still played with emotion and was a good leader.
“He’s talked to me and the coaches a couple times about how can I earn a little more, et cetera. Sometimes when you have a good team — and I certainly put us in that category — there’s just other guys we’ve put in roles that are doing a good job. So a little bit of that goes on as well.”
But when the Bruins signed Foligno to a two-year, $7.6 million deal last July, it was with these moments in mind.
“He’s a high-character guy,” Cassidy said. “It’s one of the reasons he was signed. For this time of year, to help us in these areas, in these types of games.”
Plenty of winner-take-all on tap
Five of the eight first-round series will come down to a deciding seventh game, with the Rangers forcing one against the Penguins and the Stars another with the Flames on Friday night. Three are in the Eastern Conference, with only Florida’s six-game win over Washington ending early. “I don’t think anybody’s surprised,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Any one of these eight teams we’re playing in the East, if you say they’re going to be the champs at the end, you wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, that’s shocking’ ”. . . Aaron Wardwho played five seasons in Carolina and was part of their 2006 Cup champions around a three-season stop in Boston, handled pregame siren duties, wearing a Hurricanes jersey.
Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected]e.com.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism