In the Boston Bruins' four game sevens prior to their defeat of Montreal just a month ago, they were winless. Prior to that, the team had won six consecutive game sevens. Only once in their history have the Bruins not had a streak - either winning or losing - in game sevens (in 1971 they lost to Montreal in the quarterfinal round, continuing a streak of four straight game seven losses, and in their next game seven they beat Los Angeles, in the 1976 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. In 1979, they again lost to Montreal in a game seven, starting a streak of two straight game seven losses).
While the hated Canadiens have factored in eight of the Bruins' 20 game sevens, Montreal is but a memory now - but one these Bruins hope isn't too distant that they can't learn from the experience and start a new winning streak in game sevens, this time against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning, meanwhile, have not lost a game seven in their history (3-0), also winning a game seven in the first round this year against Pittsburgh. It's a Tampa Bay team that's never lost a series in which it won the first game (also 3-0), and one that figures to be beyond prepared to face the Bruins.
Of Boston's soon-to-be 21 game sevens, 17 have come at home. It's a situation, then, that this team is familiar with; they've hosted four game sevens at TD Garden in the last three years alone.
Much has been made of the fact that Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson is 7-0 lifetime in games in which his team could have been eliminated from the playoffs. What's more noteworthy, perhaps, is that not a single player on the Tampa Bay roster has lost more game sevens than he's won. In fact, only Simon Gagne and Matthias Ohlund have lost any game sevens at all. On the other side, only Mark Recchi, Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle - yes, that Tomas Kaberle - have won more game sevens than they've lost.
All that said, throw the numbers away. It's one game for the right to play Vancouver for the Stanley Cup. There are no guarantees. Numbers mean nothing. Momentum does, and Tampa has it - an early goal by Boston could offset that - and needs to, because the memories from last year's game seven against Philadelphia aren't exactly paved over yet, and the Garden crowd could turn on the team in a heartbeat if they get down early.
The NHL has been telling us for months now that history will be made. Tonight at TD Garden, that's a sure thing. What kind of history remains to be seen.