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Bruins Are Best With Backs To The Wall

Posted by David Sabino  June 23, 2013 09:25 AM

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Julien.jpgThe Bruins road to the Stanley Cup took a critical turn on Saturday night when the Blackhawks captured Game 5 of the Finals by the score of 3-1, bringing the series back to the Hub with Boston on the brink of elimination. But before you despair, these Bruins seem to play their best when they’re faced with the prospect of an unfulfilled season.

Monday night’s tilt will mark the second time this postseason that the B’s find themselves in a win-or-go-home situation, the first coming in the stunning come-from-three-down-in-the-third-period overtime win in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. However even before that massive comeback for the ages, Claude Julien’s group was no stranger to playing with their backs against the wall.

Starting in 2008, Julien’s first season guiding the Black and Gold, his teams have faced elimination 14 times. They’re an incredible 10-4 in those games, including two series —in 2008 versus Montreal and 2009 vs. Carolina — where they were down 3-1 and forced a Game 7 (although they lost in both instances).

In the last seven backs-to-the-wall games the playoff tested-squad has gone 6-1, with the only loss coming in last season’s opening round loss to the Capitals. That’s the best elimination game record of any team in the NHL over the past three playoffs and tied with their current nemesis, Chicago, for the most "must wins" during that period. In other playoff games Boston has gone just 27-19, for a winning percentage of .587. Obviously urgency counts.

Here's another reason to believe in the Bruins chances of extending Chicago to Game 7: When down three-games-to-two in a series, Julien’s B’s have not lost a Game 6, beating the Canadiens, Hurricanes, Capitals and Canucks. While all but the Canucks series ended with a Game 7 loss, the Julien Bruins have been solid overall in Game 7’s, splitting evenly the eight they’ve played since 2008.

Here are the teams with the most wins since 2011 while facing their postseason mortality: Wins Elimination Gamesbdc.jpg

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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