In any Game 7 scenario there is typically a hero that emerges to send their team to a memorable victory. Tonight’s clash between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins will be no different. The Leafs will be looking to ride momentum and complete a comeback from 3-1 down, while the Bruins will be hoping for someone to step up and give them some life.
In these situations, players that have an impact can range from household names, to role players that quickly make a name for themselves. In this series it would surprise no one if the David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton line stepped up to carry the Bruins to the next round. Or conversely, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, and James van Riemsdyk wouldn’t shock anyone if they turned in a difference making performance.
Let’s look at a few other candidates though that could easily make an impact.
James Reimer and Tuukka Rask
Both goalies have been great in the series and chances are whoever plays better tonight will come away with a win. Reimer is the main reason Toronto was even able to force a seventh game, and Rask has been almost unbeatable this series without generating any chaos in front of him. Each will have another opportunity to steal one on Monday.
Grabovski has been skating well all series, but has yet to find the back of the net. His ability to break out of a lengthy scoring slump could be directly correlated to a Leaf win. If Tyler Bozak remains out, Grabovski’s contribution in the face-off circle will be pivotal as well.
Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand
Neither Seguin nor Marchand have scored during the series and their play in recent games must be concerning for Bruins fans. Game 1 and 2 saw Seguin generate plenty of chances, but the two have looked almost non-existent since then. The problem for the Leafs is that if they can get one, you get a feeling the flood gates could open with multiple goals and the two have the ability to take over a game.
Kadri only saw 10 minutes of ice-time in Game 5, but rebounded in Game 6 with a strong effort and was rewarded with an assist on Dion Phaneuf’s opening goal. Much like Grabovski, he has been struggling with his offensive touch as well and the Leafs need a big game from him tonight. Will Game 7 finally be the moment he snaps out of the slump and finds the score sheet?
Jagr has been a nightmare in the Leafs’ end all series and has shown to still have the ability to protect the puck with the best of them. Toronto’s defense has struggled to contain him down low and Jagr has been a threat to score almost every time he has been on the ice. His playoff experience will be valuable tonight.
Gardiner has finally been freed and it only took injuries to Mike Kostka and Mark Fraser for Randy Carlyle to realize that needed to happen. His patience with the puck has really made a difference in the last few games of the series and he has a unique ability to create offense like no other Leaf blue liner can. If he once again gets heavy minutes tonight then Toronto should be able to keep the Bruins defense on its heels.
Redden has been in plenty of playoff battles with the Maple Leafs over the years and had a good hand in the Bruins Game 1 win with a goal and an assist. A depth player often finds a way to score a big goal when it comes to a Game 7 and the Bruins will be hoping Redden fills that role tonight.
Colborne had an impressive performance in Game 6 as he saw his first action of the series. He filled in for an injured Bozak and looked pretty confident in his 15 minutes of ice-time. Despite spilling the beans about Carlyle’s plan to play him all along, Colborne could be thrust into action again tonight, and would love nothing more than to help eliminate the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2008.