|05.17.11 at 2:07 am ET|
Twos are wild as the Bruins take on the Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. The B’s are looking to knot the series at one game apiece before it moves to Tampa for Games 3 and 4, and they’ll need to correct some costly mistakes that doomed them in Game 1.
With the number two in mind, here’s a preview of the contest:
Two things the Bruins need to do:
– Go back to winning 5-on-5. The excuse for the Bruins amidst their power play’s horrid 2-for-41 playoff showing is that they were playing dominant 5-on-5 hockey to make up for it. It was an argument that was clearly backed up by their ability to advance through two rounds, but the B’s gave Game 1 away with both teams at even strength, letting the Lightning score three goals ‘ two of which were unassisted ‘ in a matter of 1:25. The Lightning did score a power play goal in the third period, but it was the ugly first period that lost the Bruins the game.
The Bruins have clearly been the best 5-on-5 team throughout the playoffs. Their 33 goals for lead all remaining teams, while the 16 goals they have allowed is the lowest total among the last four teams. They just cam’t let those numbers take hit like they did Saturday, because for a team whose power play is a non-factor, they have to make sure they do all the damage they can at even strength.
– Know which Tomas Kaberle shows up, and adjust accordingly. Yes, this is coming from the same person who noted Kaberle’s skills could help them in this series, and while they still can, the 33-year-old proved to be nothing but a liability (again) in Game 1. The Bruins limited his minutes significantly (13:20 and 13:15, respectively; the his lowest totals of the last five seasons) in Gmaes 3 and 4 of the Philadelphia series and were still able to win, so 17:29 for a guy who committed as bad a turnover as one could in Game 1 Saturday was excessive. Putting Kaberle on a tighter leash means more minutes for other guys, but they were able to pull it off twice last series. If Kaberle is going to cost them, he can’t be out there as much.
Two crazy numbers:
– Steven Stamkos led the Lightning with 297 shots on goal in the regular season, yet Game 1 was the second game this postseason in which he failed to put a puck on net. The Lightning went 4-3-0 in the regular season when Stamkos didn’t register a shot on goal, while they lost the other playoff game in which he put up a goose egg.
The playoff leader in shots on goal remains James van Riemsdyk, and it will likely be at least a couple games before he is surpassed. With 70 through two rounds, he leads the field by nine shots.
– Mark Recchi‘s 20:02 of ice time made Saturday the first time in a while that he led Bruins forwards in time on ice. He did not do so at all during the regular season, and you would have to go back to Jan. 19, 2010 to find the last time he did. He led B’s forwards in ice time on three occasions that season, including the first time Winter Classic.
Two key players:
– Patrice Bergeron: Guy Boucher keeps saying he’s expecting the concussed center to be in the Bruins’ lineup Tuesday, and if the Lightning coach is proven right, the Bruins will win the ‘best media deception’ award. From what we’ve seen, he’s skated only three times and he hasn’t taken contact. Unless he’s doing something we’re not seeing, it’s hard to imagine the B’s rushing him back.
– Sean Bergenheim: Nobody planned on having to account for Bergenheim in the playoffs, but so far, nobody has been able to stop him. After scoring just 14 regular-season goals, the third-line winger added to his league leading playoff total Saturday with his eighth goal of the postseason.
|05.16.11 at 6:05 pm ET|
The first of those goals is completely under the Bruins’ control. The second, not so much. And Horton and the Bruins know that.
‘That’s not our question [to answer],” Horton said Monday of whether he and the Bruins are expecting No. 37 to return healthy from a mild concussion in time for Tuesday. “It’s nothing to do with us. It’s how he feels. He was out there today but I don’t think anyone knows exactly how he feels. Hopefully, he comes back sooner. We obviously need him. He’s a great player and it’s definitely nice for everyone to see him out there skating again.
‘We had two days off and it’s hard to come back just after that and get back in it. He hasn’t skated or done too much for a while but he looked great out there today. As you can tell, he stays in really good shape. He’s so fit and eats well and that’s why he was so good coming back on the ice.’
As for the discipline, Horton knows he can’t be wasting time letting checking line tough guy Dominik Moore frustrate him. Horton and Milan Lucic were tossed with 37 seconds to go Saturday night when they got into it with Moore and his linemates.
“He’s not under my skin at all,” Horton insisted Monday. “I just was trying to play physical and it just kind of happened. You try not to get frustrated but obviously, you see, some guys were frustrated on our team and that’s not what we want. We want to stay away from that. When we play our game, play the way we want to play, that gets under the other team’s skin and that’s how we need to play from here on out.’
Tyler Seguin sounded a more optimistic – even positive – tone about Bergeron after watching him skate with the white sweater on during Monday’s practice.
‘It’s very nice. Everyone feels good that he’s making great strides and he looked pretty good out there to me so it’s going to be great to have him back soon,’ said Seguin, who still believes he can help the team in the playoffs, even if Bergeron returns to active duty.
‘Definitely, I want to stay in the lineup and contribute but I’m getting ready for anything. I’m staying prepared and try not to think about it too much. I want to focus on my game because whenever the opportunity arises, I want to be right there to capitalize on it.’
Rich Peverley, who filled Bergeron’s role on the No. 2 line Monday in practice, agreed with Seguin’s assessment of Bergeron.
‘He looked good,” Peverley said. “He looked like himself. Hopefully, he’s back soon.’
|05.16.11 at 3:58 pm ET|
It’s hard to know what to expect for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals given the uncertainty that surrounds Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins center has skated the last three days and participated in Monday’s practice, but coach Claude Julien still isn’t saying when the center will be back for the B’s. Amidst the fog that clouds Bergeron’s status, the Lightning have an easy strategy: assume the Bruins’ points leader this postseason will play.
This isn’t the first time the Lightning have been through this, after all. Tampa Bay faced the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins in the first round, but kept the mindset going into each game that Crosby would return to the lineup. They’re taking the same approach with the Bruins and Bergeron.
“We prepared for him playing for the first game, so we’re preparing for him just like we did with Pittsburgh,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Monday. “We told the players Sidney was going to play every game, and that’s the way we approach it.”
Bergeron has been out for the B’s since leaving Game 4 of the conference finals in the third period following a hit from Claude Giroux. He leads Boston with 12 points in the playoffs, and has arguably been the team’s best player this postseason. As a result, when the Lightning prepare as though he’ll play, they have a lot to prepare for.
“We know how important he is to the team,” Boucher said of the 25-year-old. “He’s a great player. He’s a great individual. And that usually has a tendency to uplift your team in terms of confidence, and we know the impact he’s got on the faceoff. So obviously his team’s going to start with the puck a lot more often.
“It changes a lot of things in terms of the way the game is going to develop. So we’re expecting him to be there for the opening faceoff, and if he’s not, which I highly doubt, I think he’s going to be there. It just makes it way harder.”
Julien clearly isn’t willing to venture to guess as to when the B’s will have Bergeron back, but if Boucher’s guess is correct, the Bruins coach will be happiest of all.
|05.16.11 at 1:54 pm ET|
When a lineup spot opened for Tyler Seguin to make his long-awaited playoff debut, one didn’t have to be a Seguin apologist to feel the rookie would be on one of the Bruins’ power play units. Yet in a 5-2 Game 1 loss the Lightning Saturday in the Eastern Conference finals, Seguin stayed on the bench as the B’s went 0-for-4 on the man advantage.
On Monday, coach Claude Julien had Seguin skate with the No. 2 power play unit in practice.
‘I guess it’s exciting,” Seguin said in his classic understated style. “I’m pretty sure I’m not starting on the power play but it’s just in case if we have a couple and we want to try something new, getting me out there so I’m ready and prepared for that. I think I move the puck around pretty well, I have good speed so I’m going to bring that to my game and a lot of times, that helps on the power play.
“I think it’s just about being ready and I think that’s why they threw me out there this morning. It’s the first time I’ve skated with the power play in over a month and a half. It’s definitely nice being out there, and moving the puck around and getting my feet wet.’
Julien explained Sunday that he gave thought to using Seguin out there after a couple of ugly man advantages in the second period, but that he liked what he saw from the power play going forward. He showed Monday that he’s still at least entertaining the idea, as Seguin saw time working with the second unit prior to Monday’s practice.
“We want to make the power play work,” Julien said after practice. “And it’s never a bad thing to have those guys go through it and if at one point you need him, you need him. And what I said yesterday was exactly what we wanted to do with Tyler.”
Julien also has pointed to Seguin’s development as a reason why he hasn’t given the rookie major minutes or opportunities. He noted that it’s not uncommon for big-name players to be held back here and there as youngsters, choosing against the obvious Steven Stamkos comparison and instead likening Seguin’s development to that of a player who shined against the B’s in the second round.
“He’s a young player that we care about and want to make sure that we develop him properly,” Julien said. “That’s part of the decision we’ve made as an organization is not to rush him through anything. The example is probably [James] van Riemsdyk from Philly, how good he’s been this year, yet he was a healthy scratch a lot of time last year and he’s turned out to be a pretty good player.
“Everybody has an opportunity to develop their players the way they want, and we’re doing that. And we understand the quality of player we’ve got and what he’s going to, what he can bring and what he’s going to bring in the future. And those are part of the things we keep doing with him and we’ve done with him all year is make him participate in all those areas where he’s going to be hopefully a big factor for us in the future.”
In addition to working the power play, Seguin was working with a new center on Monday at practice – Chris Kelly, who was dropped to the third line so Rich Peverley could be moved up to the No. 2 line with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi.
The main reason – as Seguin acknowledged – was the fact that Seguin’s line was on the ice for the first two goals in a 19-second span Saturday night.
‘He’s definitely a great all-around forward, especially his D-zone so I think he’s with us because we had two goals scored on our line there in the first period so I think he’s going to help bring a good D-zone to our line,’ Seguin said of Kelly.
|05.16.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
NHL analyst and former Bruin Aaron Ward joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which the Bruins trail 1-0 after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ward cautioned Bruins fans not to panic despite the rough start.
“It’s a feeling-out process,” he said. “It’s funny to listen to Tampa talk about all the time they had off, and [Martin] St. Louis was utterly concerned about the rust level. They obviously didn’t show a whole lot of rust in Game 1. And I think Boston did. That’s why it’s seven games. The sky’s not falling yet. There’s no Chicken Little yet.”
The Bruins power play continues to be a disaster, with an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 making the B’s 2-for-41 in the postseason. However, Ward said he doesn’t think rookie Tyler Seguin is the answer.
“If they were going to shake it up they would have done it a while ago,” he said. “Right now, if the stat’s right, they’ve got the third-worst power-play percentage in the last 25 years in the playoffs. And that’s just one of those things where maybe it’s a personnel thing. And it’s not that someone’s not getting it done. But maybe you shake it up and you integrate some of the first power play with the second power play, get some new life, new blood in it.
“And I know everybody’s screaming for Seguin, but I think you have enough veteran guys in that locker room that can figure it out amongst themselves. You don’t need to put a young guy on and put the pressure on him to direct the power play.”
Ward said Claude Julien was proven correct to avoid making major moves when the Bruins fell behind the Canadiens 2-0 in the opening round, and that’s the way he’ll continue to manage his team.
“It’s how Claude coaches,” Ward said. “And Claude has my utmost respect. He’s a guy that sticks with what got him there. He’s not a knee-jerk-reaction kind of coach. He knows what he wants out of his team. He knows the philosophies to take into a game. Everybody was screaming for Seguin during the Montreal series and they get out of it. Then they cruise through Philadelphia. It’s part of the playoffs.
“Everybody looks for that, ‘Well, it’s a quick fix.’ It’s not a quick fix. One player doesn’t change the direction of an entire team. Twenty guys on the ice can have that effect. One guy doesn’t have it. One guy can hurt a team. But one guy can’t drastically improve the percentage of winning a team. A guy getting in there, a guy like Seguin can do a lot of things ‘ like, nice, young, fresh legs, very healthy, fresh outlook on the game ‘ and be a catalyst in that manner. But he’s got to be given an opportunity to get himself accustomed to the playoffs.”
|05.16.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas offered some perspective on losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning on Saturday night. On Monday, following the team’s first full practice since falling behind in the series.
“You think about it but it’s on the outside of your thinking,” Thomas said when asked if he were nervous about Game 2 drawing closer on Tuesday night. “As the game draws closer, you think about it more. We had two days off so naturally, you’re going to be thinking about the game more tonight than [Sunday].
“I think you should get mentally prepared. It can get all-consuming but I don’t think really that’s the right way to go. These hockey games are important, they’re important to us, they’re important to the city but to be realistic, it is just a game. You look around at what’s going on in the world right now, Israel was attacked on numerous fronts yesterday. It can really make you put it in perspective.”
|05.16.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien made the decision to mix up the second and third lines in Monday’s practice, but speaking after the skate, he hardly sounded like a man who had his Game 2 lineup set in stone.
Rich Peverley made the jump to the second line in the practice after playing Game 1 between Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. Peverley skated Monday with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Chris Kelly took his spot on the third line with. Center Patrice Bergeron rotated in with the second line during line drills, centering Marchand and Recchi (his usual trio), as well as Marchand and Peverley.
Julien said he doesn’t know whether he will have Bergeron for Game 2, and that Monday’s lines were put in place to give him more options should he feel a change is in order.
“Just moving guys around a little bit,” Julien said following the practice. “I think it’s important that if we’re going to [mix up lines], that they get used to playing with each other. Kelly has an opportunity to play with that line and has gotten used to them a little bit. Now Peverley [has skated with Recchi and Marchand] and I’ve got some options. Just giving some thought to maybe different combinations if need be, and tomorrow we’ll decide which one we want to go with.”
Mixing up the second and third lines would be nothing new for Julien this series. He moved Seguin up to the second line with Kelly and Marchand in the third period of the team’s Game 1 loss, with Recchi moving down to the third line with Peverley and Ryder.
‘I think me and Kells [Chris Kelly] might do some switching off,” Peverley said. “I think it’s just to give an option down the middle there. I’m just going to try and play my game. I’m not going to try and be Bergy. He’s a tremendous player. I’ll just try and use my speed.
‘Usually, you try and prepare to play with anybody. And you want to be able to play with anybody. I don’t think it’s going to be any different at all.’
As for what needs to change, Peverley broke out a time-tested but very appropriate hockey cliche.
‘We played well but we didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” Peverley said. “Obviously, you make mistakes at this time of year, they end up in the back of your net. Some costly mistakes, a little bit of a lull there and within a minute-25 seconds, we’re down 3-0. We can’t let that happen and we have to be fully prepared.’