The last time the Boston Bruins were faced with a Game 7 in the Conference Championship round was May 14, 1988- 23 years ago- when they went up against the New Jersey Devils.
The final score was 6-2, but that is deceptive, given that the Bruins roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Devils cut that margin to 3-2 by the end of the second (sound familiar, B's fans?).
In the final frame, Craig Janney scored his most memorable goal as a Bruin, stealing defenseman Ken Daneyko's poor clearing pass and then going in alone and deking rookie Sean Burke out of his jock and sliding the puck home only to be tripped down from behind by Claude Loiselle. Janney flew through the air in a manner somewhat reminiscent to Bobby Orr in 1970 before getting to his feet right by the end boards and pounding on the glass to the delight of the fans (a NESN camera was right there to capture it in all its glory).
The picture and audio quality is poor, but you can see the vid here at about the 1:30 mark.
The Bruins then added two empty netters to seal it. (And did you see that defenseman Ray Bourque won the faceoff on the Rick Middleton goal to make it 3-0? I had forgotten about that play- guy did everything!) Reggie Lemelin made a memorable save on Pat Verbeek, who was a year away from being traded to the Hartford Whalers for Sylvain Turgeon.
Another guy you can see in those highlights is No. 36 Moe Lemay for the Bruins. The former Ottawa 67's star and Vancouver Canucks draft pick was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers as veteran depth for the stretch and forever earned his black and gold spurs with the Bruins when he helped his new team get past the Montreal Canadiens in the postseason after more than four decades. Lemay went to the net and took a beating in front of it, but he was a key contributor who did exactly what coach Terry O'Reilly needed him to.
Well, here we are- facing another tough Game 7 matchup in Boston, where the Bruins have been anything but invincible in recent years. Yes, they did win the conference quarterfinal round against Montreal, but that took a Nathan Horton OT goal.
If you're a hockey player, this is what you live for, but Tampa Bay is going to be a tough matchup. Torture for the fans.
So, we're in for a long day until the 8 pm puck drop. If the Bruins can get back to basics and fix that horrific performance from their defense and goaltender in Game 6, they can do it. If not, then Boston fandom is in for more heartbreak a la Carolina in '09 and Philly a year ago. Those weren't conference final games, but hurt all the same.
The B's will get the Game 7 playoff monkey off their back tonight- and the TD Garden will have no choice but to party like its 1988.
(Editor note- We will be back later today with the next installment of the 50 in 30, taking you from 21-30. After this next post, we'll begin with the top-20 countdown to 1- with in-depth scouting reports and player profiles on every player in the bracket)