With more than 1,200 NHL games combined, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin wingers Chuck Kobasew and Tom Kostopoulos know a thing or two about playing in a Game 7.
Kostopoulos did it in 2008 when his Montreal Canadiens beat the rival Boston Bruins in Game 7 to take the opening round series.
In 2004, Kobasew played in the ultimate Game 7 when his Calgary Flames lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
It’s no surprise that they both have the same advice as the Penguins get ready for their Game 7 matchup against the Providence Bruins tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“It’s about controlled emotions. There’s nothing wrong with nerves and you should be nervous going into a Game 7. That’s good,” Kobasew said. “Control it though, and sometimes that’s easier said than done.”
The Penguins are facing an elimination game for the first time in this postseason, and they’re really taking it in stride. Head coach John Hynes said it’s important to trust what you’ve done all year, that got you into the playoffs, while there’s also a balancing act.
“You want to have that intensity level, but there’s also an execution level you need,” he said. “It’s that balance between the two.
“You’re going into one game. It comes down to the fact that the team that executes better at the right times is going to win.”
That’s why, Kobasew said, a locker room before a Game 7 tends to be a little bit quieter as players are simply focused on the task at hand and nothing more.
That includes sticking to the game plan.
“You don’t change anything now. You have to do what you’ve done all season long that’s given you success,” Kobasew said. “There’s no secret to Game 7 success. You just have to outwork your opponent and capitalize on your opportunities.”
- During a lengthy playoff series, personal battles tend to evolve between opponents. One of those battles in the Penguins-Bruins series has been between fellow Russians Anton Zlobin and Providence’s Alexander Khohklachev. The two faced each other as opponents for 11 years in their native Russia, Zlobin said, and Khohklachev’s three-point night in Game 6 wasn’t a surprise.
“I know him pretty good. When he gets time and space, he’ll make the plays,” Zlobin said. “We’re still friends off the ice but in it, it’s a battle. It’s nice when (Khohklachev) loses.”
Head coach John Hynes said he notices when personal battles evolve in a series and sometimes he will consider them when it comes to matchups. But he cautioned it’s important not to overthink such situations.
“They are things you consider, but they shouldn’t consume the process of trying to win a game,” Hynes said. “While you do have those battles within a series, ultimately it comes down to the big one — one team has to be better than the other team.”
- Hynes made several lineup changes in the last two games of the series and said there will be more for Game 7.
- Andrew Ebbett has been ruled out for Game 7, Hynes said.
- When it comes to the pressure of playing in a Game 7, it’s perhaps greatest on the goaltenders. Peter Mannino said Game 7 pressure isn’t anything out of the ordinary. “It’s that way every game all season long,” he said. “You’re the last line of defense and you can make or break the game.”
- The Penguins are hoping for a boisterous crowd tonight, and to help that effort they are offering free admission to the first 500 children 14 and under with each purchase of an adult ticket.