Game 7 preview: What they're saying

The message for a Game 7 with historic implications is simple: Win or go home. For the Bruins, a win matches them up with their long time rivals the Canadiens. A loss, however, puts them in infamous company. Head coach Claude Julien’s words for his team are simple.

“You go out there and you play to win,” Julien said of his team’s approach. “Sometimes they say the term, ‘Safe is death.’ If you play safe, it’s not going to help your chances to win.”

Playing it safe is what the Bruins have seemed to do in games five and six of this series and after an overtime loss in Game 4, the Bruins have played seemingly scared to lose. The Flyers, meanwhile, have responded in a big way to being on the brink of elimination, something coach Peter Laviolette was eager to point out.

“It really is our fifth time facing elimination,” Laviolette said. “I feel like we’re ready for this. The message hasn’t changed from Day 1 since I’ve been here until where we are right now. Everything has stayed the same. The meetings are the same. The message is the same. What’s expected is the same.   

“When we start mention a Game 7, there’s this buildup because somebody’s going home, but like I said, we’ve been faced with that for a while.”

As for the players, Laviolette likes having a guy like Chris Pronger in the locker room as he’s a guy familiar with what it takes to win in a big spot.

“Not only has he proven it in the past, he’s proven it already here. Our team has been in survival mode; we’ve been fighting. And you don’t win those fights unless there’s great type of people in the locker room. Mike Richards. Danny Briere steps up. Chris Pronger plays his minutes. Guys who have proven they can get there and handle the pressure of an elimination game, and that’s where we are tonight.”

“There’s no question that Chris Pronger can be a difference tonight.”

How does Claude Julien plan on slowing down the Flyers while at home? His approach is simple and predictable.

“It’s pretty simple, especially when you’re the home team. You want to get your crowd into it, so there’s no doubt you’d like to come out strong in the first 10 minutes. When you’re on the road, you want to make sure you quiet down the other team for the first 10 minutes,”

In other words, if you’re tuning in tonight to watch or joining us for our live chat, don’t miss the first ten minutes.

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    Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

    Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

    The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

    Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

    Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

    Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

    Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

    That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

    Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

    When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

    “I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

    For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

    Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

    That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

    While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

    If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

    Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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    Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

    It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

    Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

    Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

    First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

    Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

    There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

    Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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    Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

    Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

    In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

    The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

    One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.