OK, now it matters. Now experience, particularly in Game 7, matters.
Now the Boston Bruins can use last year's road to the Stanley Cup, with three winner-take-all games.
With their 4-3 overtime win in Washington, D.C. yesterday, the Bruins earned the right, finally, to go back in the memory bank and call on the best experience of their collective professional lives.
The Bruins, as we expected and as we thought we knew, are back.
The three 3 p.m. games, the lack of production from the best Bruins players and the disciplined Capitals have proven to make this an odd, yet interesting few weeks.
Let's be honest, few people around here expected this — a seventh game in this series. But the Capitals not been deterred by the Bruins talent or grit.
We figured the Bruins 7-foot (on skates) defensive stalwart Zdeno Chara would take care of Alexander "The Great" Ovechkin nine times out of 10 and it might go six games, at the most.
Well, we all figured wrong.
But something happened yesterday. The Bruins not only had to win, but they had to win this way, with Tyler Seguin somewhere in the mix.
Patrice Bergeron might be the best all-around player in the league. Tim Thomas might be the best big-game goalie in the league. And David Krejci might be as good as anybody in the league at creating something out of nothing.
Seguin is a different animal altogether. His speed is extra special. When the rockets are sparking on the back of his skates, he makes defenders look like they are wallowing in molasses.
Seguin has looked like age — 20 years old — since this series started.
He has ability to change a game with one, maybe two shifts.
We saw that in overtime when he found a little space in the middle of the ice and easily went in alone and deked Caps goalie Braden Holtby in overtime.
The Bruins didn't need an easy win yesterday. It would have given them a false sense of security.
They needed to face adversity in Game 6 and overcome it. And they did. The Bruins led 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and allowed the Caps to come back every time, the last one with 4:52 remaining in the game on one of Thomas' lesser efforts.
The best lesson about last season was the Bruins ability to play their best when it mattered the most. It wasn't just Game 7, but Game 3 in Montreal, Game 5 against Tampa Bay and Games 3, 5 and 7 against Vancouver.
It wasn't just Thomas. It was more than a handful of players throughout the roster.
Well, that's what happened yesterday. Several Bruins played their best games of the year, including Andrew "Bobby Orr" Ference, who had a great pass on the first goal by Rich Peverly and then knocked in a huge rebound to put the Bruins ahead 3-2 with 9:03 left in the game.
Seven different Bruins got on the scoresheet yesterday, including and especially the much-needed Milan Lucic and Krejci.
The Bruins are not guaranteed to win Game 7 on Wednesday night. If they don't play well, these Caps are capable.