Three times last spring Tim Thomas and the Bruins walked across the hot coals of a Game 7 and came away on the right side of the handshake line.
The Capitals? Well, lets just say their experience in must-win games has been less than memorable.
Most of these Capitals can recall the pain of blowing a three-games-to-one series lead against Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens two springs ago, a first-round series that ended with a 2-1 loss at the Verizon Center in Game 7.
In fact, many of the Capitals have been involved in four Game 7s dating back to their return to the playoffs in 2008. The results?
A home overtime loss to the Flyers in the first round of 2008. A home win over the Rangers in the first round of 2009. A home loss to the Penguins in the second round of 2009. And the home loss to Montreal in 2010.
So, who has the advantage? It depends on who you ask, of course.
Youre maybe a little more on edge, more nervous, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said of playing in a Game 7. Weve won three games in this series by keeping it close and playing a simple game and waiting for our chances.
The Bruins have been down this road far more often recently. In fact, since blowing a three-games-to-none lead on the Flyers in 2010, the Bruins have won three straight Game Sevens.
It shows how mentally tough we are, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. This team never gives up and we never make it easy on ourselves. Usually, if youve been in the situation it helps. Last year we played well in those games and I dont see why we wouldnt show up again on Wednesday.
As for the coaches, each is saying his team is prepared to play its best game of the series.
When you go through those kinds of situations you can handle those a lot better, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. And we had a Game 6 last year do-or-die in the finals that we were able to overcome, so Im hoping it served us tonight. Theres no guarantees in anything. But youve got to like the experience that you have going into Game 7.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter said his team has been playing Game Sevens since the middle of March when the Caps needed every point they could get just to make the playoffs.
Weve been grinding it out every night down the stretch and Game 7 is a grinding kind of game, he said. We're used to playing it. Every game here has been a tough game. There have been six games, both sides are a little bit banged up. But little bruises, they'll forget about them come Game 7.