It’s not his proudest stat as an NHL player.
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is 0-3 in Game 7 situations — two losses with Ottawa (vs. New Jersey and Toronto) and one with Boston (last season against Montreal) — and he knows it. That’s why he doesn’t recall any words of wisdom he received before those deciding games.
“It’s been a long time. When you lose those Game 7’s, you don’t try to memorize them. You try to forget about them,” Chara said today after an off-ice workout in preparation for Game 7 of the Bruins’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with Carolina at TD Banknorth Garden.
Had the pregame speech, or any other number of circumstances been different, maybe Chara wouldn’t have a goose egg in the Game 7 ‘W’ column. He’s not alone among Bruins players who’ve suffered more defeat than victory in Game 7s, as only winger Mark Recchi (4-2) and goaltender Manny Fernandez (1-0) are better than .500 in Game 7s.
Tomorrow he figures he and a number of the Bruins’ leaders will have what to say about being ready for the game and how to approach it. His message will be quite direct.
“It’s tough. You just have to play, do your best and really be smart,” he said. “Sometimes players end up doing too much just because it’s Game 7. And you just have to stick with the game plan and really do your job and not try to do too much.”
The mental aspect of the game will be huge as well.
“You always have little butterflies going. It’s a deciding game,” Chara said. “But at the same time you have to relax and just play. It’s not going to do any good if you’re really squeezing (the stick) and worrying about the final result before the game even starts. You just have to have composure and relax out there.”
Chara wouldn’t take the bait when asked to do a Mark Messier and guarantee a win. But by his words you figure he at least knows what it’ll take to clinch this series even if he doesn’t want to predict it’ll get done.