|05.15.11 at 2:10 pm ET|
Tomas Kaberle has taken a beating from the media — this space included — since he’s come to Boston. He hasn’t been as advertised, he’s made costly turnovers and as positive and upbeat a guy as he is, that can come off as a lack of accountability when things are going wrong.
Unfortunately for Kaberle and the Bruins, Game 1 of the conference finals vs. the Lightning didn’t feature the step in the right direction many are still waiting for him to take. Kaberle gave the puck away behind his own net to give Teddy Purcell an easy unassisted goal in the first period, and he looked like a combination of Fulton Reed and Uncle Rico with some of his shots on the power play. It hasn’t been easy for Kaberle since coming over in Feb. 18, and it may be weighing on the veteran defenseman.
“There is no doubt he is pressing a little bit,” Claude Julien said Sunday at TD Garden. “I would say that because he knows what is expected of him and he knows what is being said about him. He knows all that stuff, at one point you hope that he is capable of focusing on just doing the job. We have confidence in him and we are going to work with him for him to get better, because we are going to need him to play at his best if we plan on moving on here and winning some hockey games.”
Kaberle has generally contented throughout his struggles that he needs to leave any negative moments in the past, but as they continue to pile up, it seems they could be sticking with him when he’s out on the ice. A player of Kaberle’s caliber isn’t used to being a weak link, and there’s still time for him to be a strength on the Bruins. It will need to come sooner rather than later, and once the defenseman can clear his head, the B’s could be in the clear with what’s looking like an uglier trade with each passing day.
|05.15.11 at 1:54 pm ET|
The Bruins had plenty of reason to be frustrated with their effort in a 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, but rookie Brad Marchand showed his emotions in a much louder way than anyone else.
Marchand, who had a very forgettable night that included a minus-2 rating and zero shots on goal, made more noise when he shattered his stick in a rage in the second period than when he was out on the ice. It took a couple of whacks, but the sound of the rookie breaking his stick could be heard throughout the building.
“It wasn’t good enough the first time,” Marchand said of how he felt as he was taking his anger out on his stick. “I had to do it again. I just had a lot of frustration built up. I wanted to be a factor out there, and it wasn’t happening. It just got to me.”
The rookie is used to having to explain his actions, but when he crosses the line, it’s generally due to his chirping, and not a result of anger. Though it was far different from him calling the Canadiens divers or making a golf-swing gesture to the Maple Leafs bench, the result was the same: a talk from coach Claude Julien and a subsequent apology.
“I was a little frustrated there, and I reacted in a way that I shouldn’t have,” Marchand said Sunday at TD Garden. “It was selfish and it brought a lot of negative energy to the team at the wrong point. He recognized that. He’s upset about that because he knows I’m better than that. He knows that I can control my emotions better than that. I can’t be getting off my game. I need to be getting teams off their game.”
Julien has had to keep the fiery young winger in check throughout the season. Emotion is a big part of what makes Marchand the player he is, but controlling that emotion is an area in which the coach still needs to aid the 23-year-old.
“That’s something we don’t like to see and we don’t want to see but he is a first year player, he is a rookie and he is certainly learning,” Julien said. “He is going to be the first one to tell you that he is learning as he goes along here. You can’t allow yourself to get frustrated — you have to battle through things. We just showed a little bit of frustration, and I’m sure you are not going to see that again.”
Marchand has been one of the Bruins’ top performers in his rookie year, scoring 21 goals in the regular season and working his way from the fourth line up to the second line. Yet as strong as his game has been, he knows that his secret weapon — his emotions — can often backfire.
Such was the case back on March 8 in Montreal when he had no problem slapping the Habs with the “divers” tag in talking to the media. The result that night? A 4-1 Bruins loss. The team didn’t fare any better on March 31 when he made his infamous golf gesture in a Game the Leafs would win.
“I started shooting my mouth off,” Marchand said of the Canadiens incident. “It always comes back to bite you in the butt. The golf swing incident — we lost that [game] too,” he added before seemingly coming to a realization.
“I’ve just got to stop doing dumb stuff.”
|05.15.11 at 1:23 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron skated for the second straight day on Sunday, an encouraging sign as the Bruins await the concussed center’s return to the lineup. Coach Claude Julien made clear Sunday at TD Garden that while Bergeron is progressing, the team has zero intention of rushing the 25-year-old back into the lineup.
“If he’s not 100 percent, he will never play,” Julien said. “Whether it’s regular season or playoffs, our organization, even before they tightened up the rules on that, there is no way we would ever do that to a player. That is too important to his personal lifestyle and the life he is going to lead after hockey that, that will always come before the game. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it should be.
“We believe in that and we are going to continue to enforce it, so the day you see Bergy back in our line-up, he will be 100 percent. If he’s not, you’re not going to see him.”
The concussion , which Bergeron suffered in the third period of Game 4 of the conference semifinals, is the third of the young center’s career. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.
|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.