|05.15.11 at 2:04 am ET|
The Bruins’ power play deserves all the criticism it gets for its performance in the playoffs, but the Lightning’s penalty kill also deserves quite a bit of credit for its performance in Game 1.
The Lightning made it difficult for the Bruins’ man advantage, which went 0-for-4 in the game, to enter the zone and get set up all night long. They pressured the Bruins out high and forced them to gain entry by dumping the puck instead of sitting back and letting the B’s skate over the blue line. They also did a good job winning races to pucks and clearing the zone quickly, and they consistently got in passing and shooting lanes.
That’s not really all that surprising given the fact that the Lightning ranked eighth in the regular season on the PK at 83.8 percent. They’ve taken their game to an even higher level in the playoffs, killing off penalties at a 94.8-percent clip (55 for 58).
‘I think we’ve had a good penalty kill all year long, top five for most of the year,’ coach Guy Boucher said. ‘I think we’re following that up in the playoffs. We had a really good penalty kill in the first series and the second series. We’ve got to adjust to the other team and at the same time stay confident in what we are doing. Obviously our guys pay the price a lot and I think that’s the key to our penalty kill.’
Goalie Dwayne Roloson said there’s no one thing that has been the key to the Lightning’s successful PK, but that it’s more about attention to detail.
‘Our guys have done a great job focusing and doing the little things to allow us to kill those penalties off,’ Roloson said. ‘You know, whether it’s battles at the blue line or getting pucks down deep when we get that opportunity. So there’s no one thing. I think it’s just, for us as a team, just playing within our structure and doing the little things that we have to do to win hockey games.’
Although there might not be one specific key, the Lightning’s shot blocking is one thing that really stands out. They blocked 17 shots total in the game, with at least a handful of those coming while they were shorthanded.
‘You have to block shots,’ said forward Martin St. Louis. ‘It is a desperate time of the year. I think it is the mentality we have, blocking a lot of shots all year long and in the playoffs. ‘¦ You want to get that shot and block that shot and make an attempt to block every shot so Rollie gets less work.’
As good as Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was, though, there was still a lot the Bruins’ power play could’ve done better.
“I thought our execution could certainly have been better, especially on those entries there,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “If we do our job properly, I think we are going to have success, but you need the execution. … You need the execution to be there and you need the killer instinct. When you have the chance, you need to bury those things. And same thing with the loose pucks, you have to be first on those and make sure you get them and not the other team. So execution, killer instinct is something that needs to be better on our power play moving forward here.”
|05.15.11 at 1:38 am ET|
The positives for the were scarce for the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday, but there were certainly encouraging signs. Some of those signs came from rookie Tyler Seguin, who overcame a rough start to his first playoff game and ended up with a goal, an assist and some signs of physicality.
Early on, it was unclear whether Seguin could be a factor or whether he would fall into old habits. An early minus-2 rating and a bad turnover that nearly cost the team a goal were it not for a great play by Andrew Ference certainly provided reason to believe the latter could be the case. As is the case with goal-scorers, all it took was him scoring to make a difference.
For those who have whined for Seguin to get into the lineup, the rookie’s first-period goal was exactly what they were talking about. Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder (who also assisted his first career goal back on Oct. 10) in the neutral zone, showcased his fanciness in going through Mike Lundin in embarrassing fashion for the Lightning defenseman and beat Dwayne Roloson to make it 3-1.
“I think coming into the first period, I was definitely very excited,” Seguin said following the game. “I found myself running around just a little bit just because I had so much legs. After I had that goal, it was a bit of a sigh of relief and I could be more poised out there.”
It would be a while before Seguin would show that poise. He didn’t play the rest of the period and had to wait until midway through the second before getting back on the ice, making it 14:56 without a shift for the rookie. He would play only two shifts in the second period, partially a result of lots of special teams work (five penalties between the two teams), as Seguin does not play on the power play or penalty kill.
Still, just five minutes of ice time through two periods for the team’s only goal-scorer to that point was a big surprising to see. For someone who had spent the previous 11 playoff games in the press box, Seguin wasn’t complaining.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s a lot better than being up in the stands where you can’t contribute at all,” Seguin said. “At least there I could be out with the boys and motivating everyone. Everyone was trying to keep their heads high that point. We were running into a lot of PK’s and a lot of power plays and trying to get one there before the end of the second but it didn’t work out.”
Julien would eventually reward Seguin, who also put a big hit on Lundin in the second period. The rookie was given more regular shifts in the third period, and was even temporarily promoted to the second line with Brad Marchand and Johnny Boychuk.
“It was just to make sure he got in the game,” Julien said. “He skated well, he had a goal, had some opportunities, and this was an opportunity for him to go in and help us out. So that’s, with all the power plays and penalties and stuff that we had, it was important to move Tyler into some spots here and that’s all we did.”
His time out there would result in one more Bruins goal, a tally from Kelly in which Seguin picked up a helper. Yet through everything that he displayed — speed and skill the most obvious — nothing may have been more encouraging than the fact that he threw his body around a bit. He still had his moments where he slowed up heading into corners, but he took steps that if built upon could go a long way.
“[I realized from watching] up top you kind of have to do everything,” Seguin said. “And I also want to bring a physical approach to the game and appearance. I tried doing that a few times finishing my checks.”
So what is ahead for the rookie? Julien clearly looked at Seguin’s entire first period rather than just his goal, but in the end, the play the 19-year-old made was the most explosive of the night for the Bruins. Could it mean an uptick in minutes? Perhaps. Asked whether it could finally mean Seguin’s return to the power play, the coach offered a smile and a “no comment.”
Maybe he won’t get back on the power play, but if he can play the way he did starting late in the first period Saturday, the rookie may finally have the impact he and so many others hoped he could in his first season.
|05.15.11 at 1:16 am ET|
It would be understandable if the Lightning were angered by the punches Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic landed on Dominic Moore and Victor Hedman, respectively, in the final minute of Saturday’s Game 1. It would even be understandable if they retaliated, either at the time or in the future.
Instead, the Lightning seem completely unperturbed by Lucic and Horton’s actions. They didn’t respond on the ice, and they didn’t have much of a response after the game, either.
‘Well, there is not too much to say,’ Hedman said of the incident. ‘That is part of the game, too. I have to expect that and there is nothing I can do about it. That’s what he did, and I wasn’t expecting it, so that is why it took me a little aback.’
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher avoided commenting on Horton and Lucic and said he was just happy his team kept its composure.
‘We only focus on our emotions, not the other team’s emotions,’ Boucher said. ‘We were really calm and we stayed calm.’
Hedman said he doesn’t expect a carryover or anyone going out of their way to get revenge in Game 2 Tuesday night.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he said. ‘It happens in games and it is something you have to expect. I don’t think there is going to be anything else going on.’
|05.15.11 at 12:47 am ET|
The Bruins are keeping quiet about it but Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said following his team’s 5-2 win in Game 1 Saturday night that the Lightning expect the return of Patrice Bergeron in time for Game 2 Tuesday night.
“They’re a really good team. They came out hard and they’re going to come out harder the next game,” Boucher said. “I’m expecting [Patrice] Bergeron to be in the lineup. I know Tim Thomas is going to make miracles. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t come out with probably his best game of the playoffs. They have a lot of pride and they came back in the first series [vs. Canadiens] from two games. It’s only one game. We’ve done nothing yet.”
Bergeron was diagnosed with a mild concussion following a hit by Claude Giroux in the third period of Game 4 against the Flyers on May 6. He took part in a light skate Saturday morning but was scratched for Game 1 on Saturday night.
|05.15.11 at 12:43 am ET|
|05.15.11 at 12:31 am ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien was not satisfied with the level of his club’s intensity following a 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at TD Garden.
“I think we could’ve had a better effort,” Julien said. “I think overall, as a team, we’re definitely going to need to be better and get a better effort. The rust was even on both sides, as far as time off. You don’t want to use rust as an excuse.”
The Bruins actually came out strong, applying early pressure on Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson before the Bruins had a defensive breakdown over an 85-second span that gave Tampa Bay a comfortable three-goal cushion in the first period.
“The effort was something we’re going to need more of,” Julien added. “The other part was the fact that we gave them that 3-0 lead. It was like the Montreal series. I thought we gave them some easy goals and that was more of our doing than it was theirs. Until that point, I thought we had started the game really well and had good momentum but those three goals certainly set us back.”
The Bruins will not be on the ice Sunday but return to practice Monday at TD Garden, with Game 2 scheduled for Tuesday night in Boston before the series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 Thursday and Saturday.
|05.14.11 at 10:57 pm ET|
The Bruins put themselves in a familiar spot Saturday, as they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning at home, 5-2.
The B’s lost Game 1 of the first round to the Canadiens at TD Garden before dropping Game 2 but battling back to win the series in seven games. There’s plenty of hockey left to be played, and Boston will have to hope for different results and better handling of the puck going forward.
The Lightning got their scoring out of the way with one crushing wave in the middle of the first period. Sean Bergenheim continued his league-leading scoring pace, notching his eighth goal of the postseason at 11:15, with Brett Clark beating Tim Thomas on a backhander 19 seconds later. Teddy Purcell scored off an ugly Tomas Kaberle turnover at 12:40, making it three goals for Tampa Bay in a matter of 1:25. Marc-Andre Bergeron scored the Lightning’s fourth goal on the power play at 13:37 of the third period while Simon Gagne added an empty-netter.
Tyler Seguin, playing in his first postseason game, a nifty goal at 15:59 of the first period. Chris Kelly’s tally came with 1:01 left in a game the Bruins had already lost.
Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves for the Lightning in the victory.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Two of the the goals scored by the Lightning in a matter of 85 seconds came off bad turnovers by the Bruins. With a big mess in front of Tim Thomas’ net, a stick-less Dennis Seidenberg kicked the puck right onto the stick of Sean Bergenheim, who fired the puck in for his eighth goal of the playoffs.
Yet while Seidenberg’s play certainly came in a hectic moment, the sam could not be said for the third goal. Teddy Purcell skated right in and reached behind the net to mug Kaberle and tuck the puck past Thomas. Two unassisted goals against were not what the B’s were looking for.
– Foolish move by Milan Lucic late in the game, as the 22-year-old winger clocked Victor Hedman in the face with 36.7 left in the game. He was tossed from the game, and should he face further discipline, a Bruins team that’s already missing Patrice Bergeron could be in big trouble.
– Thomas has been great this postseason, but he would definitely like to have the Lightning’s second goal back. Brett Clark carried the puck through the neutral zone and down the right wing before beating Thomas stick-side with a fluttering backhander. Soft goals are always bad, but this one was even more devastating because it came just 19 seconds after Tampa’s first goal.
After the three goals, Thomas came up big for the B’s multiple times. He absolutely robbed Steve Downie with a little more than 5:30 left in the seconds to keep it a two-goal game.
– Seemingly in an effort to get some more life out of the Bruins’ offense, Claude Julien swapped Seguin and Mark Recchi in the third period. Seguin skated with Brad Marchand and Chris Kelly, while Recchi went to the third line with Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it yielded no results, and the lines reverted back to the way they began the game.
– It’s cliche at this point to list the power play as a wrong, but as long as it continues to do nothing, it’s going to be here. Normally when a team’s down by two goals, three power plays in a period would be exactly what it needs to get back in the game. Not for the Bruins, though. They didn’t even threaten on their three man advantages in the second, as they consistently struggled to enter the zone. When they did get the puck in deep, it often came right back out either due to losing puck battles or making bad passes. An example of this came when Seidenberg cycled the puck back to nobody and out of the zone. The B’s mustered only three shots in their three second-period power plays and finished the night 0-for-4.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– It was only fitting that Seguin’s first career playoff goal be of highlight-reel variety. The rookie, who scored his first goal of the season in Prague on a Hail Mary pass from Ryder before crashing into the net, made the Garden crowd go nuts with his first-period goal. Seguin took a pass from Ryder in the neutral zone and proceeded to make Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin look foolish as the rookie used fancy stickwork to go through the defenseman before sliding it past Roloson.
It was predictable that Seguin wouldn’t get big minutes, but Claude Julien took it to a bit of an extreme, even despite the rookie’s goal. Seguin would have to wait 14:56 worth of hockey before he’d get back on the ice, as his next shift did not come until 11:55 into the second period. He had only two shifts in the second period, though he threw a nice hit on Lundin in the corner on of of them, providing a small sample of physical play, an area in which he’s rarely been engaged in his rookie year.
– Not that any of the ensuing power plays led to anything, but give David Krejci for drawing a pair of Lightning infractions. The first-line center drew two different tripping calls on Tampa Bay in the second period, as both Eric Brewer and Adam Hall went off for tripping Krejci.