|05.19.11 at 2:10 am ET|
TAMPA ‘ The Bruins can pick up their third straight road win and first series lead of the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 3 win Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum. The B’s might have momentum on their side, as they took a high-scoring contest Tuesday in defeating Tampa, 6-5. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Thursday’s game:
Three things the Bruins need to do:
– Keep Ryding the hot duo: Whether or not Patrice Bergeron returns to the lineup, any shakeup should not include a separation of Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. The two have totaled five goals thus far in the series, and their chemistry is evident. The Lightning will try to be more physical to knock the rookie off his game, but Seguin simply needs to show that these games have given him more confidence. Expect him to stay with Ryder and Chris Kelly in Game 3.
– Extend the power play success: Who said this team stunk on the man advantage? Two goals in Game 2 (one of which came with one second remaining after the team failed to score on a 5-on-3) matched their postseason production on the power play entering the night, and there are certainly encouraging nights. Tomas Kaberle played better on the man advantage Tuesday, while Seguin was finally given the opportunity to contribute on special teams and did.
– Tighten it up: As much as Bruins fans can get on board with watching Tim Thomas come up big on multiple breakaway bids, the B’s would just rather they not happen at all. The Bruins could have had a much better defensive effort on Tuesday, and correcting it will lower the number of quality opportunities for the Lightning.
Three crazy stats:
– By scoring three goals on Dwayne Roloson Tuesday, the Bruins bumped the Lightning netminder out of the top spot in postseason goals against average and save percentage. The leader in both those categories now? Carey Price, who posted a 2.11 GAA and .934 in the first round against the B’s.
– The Bruins are 0-2 in games this postseason in which Nathan Horton fails to register a shot on goal. They’re 9-2 when he has at least one. Horton leads the B’s with 13 points, and his 34 shots on goal are second to Bergeron among forwards.
Three key players:
– Patrice Bergeron: As fun as the Seguin Show was to watch on Tuesday, the Bruins aren’t kidding themselves here. They need Bergeron back, and after taking contact he could return to the lineup for one of the games in Tampa. Whether that happens remains to be seen.
– Dwayne Roloson: The Tampa goaltender was not as bad as the numbers were on Tuesday, but it will be interesting to see how he responds to being chased for the first time this postseason.
– Johnny Boychuk: The 27-year-old has goals in two of his last three games, but he was positively wretched in Game 2. Boychuk’s sloppiness resulted in a minus-3 rating that would have been worse had the puck he accidentally banked off the skate of Kaberle in front of the net gone in. He ended up playing only 16:06, his lowest time on ice total this postseason.
|05.18.11 at 4:12 pm ET|
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Bruins’ 6-5 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Melrose was quick to compliment the play of Bruins rookie center Tyler Seguin, who tallied four points (two goals, two assists) in Game 2.
“He certainly rode over the horizon at the right time on his white horse because Boston needed a spark and Seguin, in the last two games, has given Boston a spark,” Melrose said.
Seguin, who scored only 11 goals in the regular season, patiently waited for his opportunity and took full advantage of it in crunch time.
“He’s done everything right,” Melrose said. The kid’s kept his mouth shut. He’s never complained. He’s never gotten his agent involved. He’s never gone to the press. And when he got a chance to play in Game 1, bang, he was great. And then in Game 2, when they put him on the power play, bang, he scored.
“That’s what he has to do. He’s letting his actions speak for himself, and now Claude [Julien] has to play him. And the kid doesn’t hurt you defensively, he competes. Is he going to win the Selke award? No. But the guy who wins the Selke isn’t going to make the plays that Seguin is making either.”
|05.18.11 at 11:15 am ET|
He allowed five goals on 41 shots on goal. He gave up a goal in the game’s first 13 seconds and the last 6.5 seconds of the first period, allowing the Lightning to take a 2-1 lead to the dressing room in the first intermission. As a goalie, Thomas knows you have to be equal parts netminder and psychologist.
“Each time you get some odd goals like that, it can put you on your heels,” Thomas said. “The human tendency is to tell yourself, ‘Oh, just, it’s not going to be our night.’ The team didn’t do that, and they fought back. They fought back after the first goal. We had really, a pretty good first period. And then we had another, second goal there at the end of the first period, which could deflate you. But being in the locker room between periods, we were never deflated.
“We’re determined to stick with it and in the second period there, Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder stepped up and got big goals for us. I’ve said it before, we know we have character. We’re battle tested by now. But having said that, you have to keep stepping up every time you need to, and we found a way to do that.”
After Seguin and Ryder put on a scoring display in the five-goal second period, it was up to Thomas and the Bruins to make a three-goal cushion hold. Thomas was – as they say – huge when he needed to be and made several spectacular saves in the second and third periods, helping the Bruins escape with a series-stabilizing 6-5 win.
Thomas’ first huge save actually led to Seguin’s first goal as he stopped Martin St. Louis 21 seconds into the second period. Then, he used his face mask in stopping Ryan Malone on a breakaway later in the period and that led to Seguin’s second spectacular goal of the period just moments later as the Bruins took a 4-2 lead. Then, in the third period, with the Lightning on the verge of tying the game, Thomas used his right pad and skate to kick away a Vinny Lecavalier shot between the circles.
Ironically, it was a save that he didn’t make where he showed how tough he could be as Dominic Moore shot went off his face and into the net, after his own defenseman crashed into him, knocking his mask off.
“I didn’t know,” Thomas said. “Dominic Moore was the guy in front of the net. I think what made my mask come off was Adam McQuaid was trying to get across the crease and we kind of ran into each other. I haven’t seen the replay. I have been told the puck went off my head but I didn’t even realize it. At that point I was trying to find it I think.”
Thomas showed again Tuesday that you don’t have to save every shot to make big saves.
“I think experience helps in those situations,” Thomas said. “Just this year we were in a few games, I think we beat Philly 7-5 or something like that, and we had a similar game against Montreal. Experience helps you to learn that, each time a goal goes in, you’ve just got to put it behind you. You’ve got to start focusing on the next one. If you start thinking about the goals that just went in, it’s going to lead to other goals, and it’s not going to be helpful. With our big second period there, I knew we had a big lead going into the third period, and the plan wasn’t to let them get close at all.
“But when it gets 6-4 and 6-5, when you’re a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus. But I’ve been through enough situations similar to that. I was just trying to keep my focus, and when it got 6-5, do everything I possibly could to keep it from becoming 6-6.”
|05.18.11 at 8:24 am ET|
Former Bruin Shawn McEachern appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which the Bruins evened up with a 6-5 victory over the Lightning in Game 2 Tuesday night. McEachern, a Waltham native who went on to star at Boston University and win a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1992, now coaches the hockey team at The Rivers School in Weston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins held on Tuesday night in a high-scoring affair, a game in which no lead appeared to be safe. “This whole year in the playoffs, all around the league, nobody’s been able to hold a lead,” McEachern said. “It’s been great to watch. It looks like hockey back in the ’80s, when Wayne Gretzky was scoring 90 goals.”
McEachern didn’t predict a winner, but he said the series appears destined to last for a while. “I think it’s going to be a long series. I think it’s a six- or seven-game series,” he said. “I hope it’s high-scoring like last night, because it’s an awful lot of fun to watch.”
Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin exploded with two goals and two assists in Game 2 after scoring a goal in his postseason debut in Game 1. However, McEachern said he had no problem with coach Claude Julien sitting Seguin for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“He’s a 19-year-old kid,” McEachern said. “Probably the biggest thing that helped Tyler Seguin was sitting upstairs and watching the first 11 games of the playoffs. The game really slows down for you. He probably really figured it out a little bit.
“The other side is there’s no expectations on him when he comes back into the lineup. He wasn’t going to be the game-breaker they needed. They were hoping they’d get something out of him, but he played only nine minutes in the first game.”
Added McEachern: “I think the thing with Seguin is that he brings something that the Bruins don’t have. That high-end speed and skill, they just don’t have another player like that.”
|05.18.11 at 1:49 am ET|
Savor the 11-goal thriller while you can, because it’s probably not going to happen again. The Bruins and Lightning entered this series as the top two defensive teams in the postseason. High-scoring games like Tuesday night’s Game 2 are not their preference.
‘To be honest with you, it was a pond game tonight,’ Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. ‘When you play a pond hockey game, there is a chance that it won’t turn your way. It’s your breakaway, it’s my breakaway. It’s your 2-on-1, it’s my 2-on-1. It might be exciting for the fans, but from the teams’ perspective and standpoint, it’s not how we have played.’
The Bruins were obviously happy to get the win, but coach Claude Julien acknowledged that he wasn’t particularly thrilled with how wide-open the game was, either.
‘Not the way it opened up to the point that there were breakaways,’ Julien said. ‘When two teams start the series and they are two of the best defensive teams in the playoffs, and then you see a game like this, I don’t think anybody’s happy. We want to score goals, there’s no doubt there, but the way we’ve been giving up goals is not something that we’re proud of right now.’
The Lightning players said the anomaly of a game was due in part to a breakdown of their defense-first structure. Forward Vincent Lecavalier said the Bruins did a good job using their speed to exploit those breakdowns.
‘We didn’t play the way we usually do with our structure,’ Lecavalier said. ‘I don’t want to take credit away from the Bruins. I thought they came out flying in the first and second. ‘¦ Giving up five goals in that second period was tough. It seems every time we had a good chance, it would just come back. I think we just gave them a lot in the second, but they were skating. They were playing hard.’
Now the focus for both teams in the lead-up to Thursday’s Game 3 will be to get back to playing the type of defense that got them here, and to not allow as many odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances as they did Tuesday.
‘Really for both teams it was a strange game,’ said Bruins forward Mark Recchi. ‘I expect it to be much different when we both go back down there, to be the style we both usually play. It will be hard, another close one coming up, so we have a lot of work to do.’
|05.18.11 at 1:36 am ET|
While the Bruins were hanging on for dear life, coach Claude Julien admitted to feeling exactly was every Bruins fan was feeling watching the third period of Tuesday night’s Game 2 win over the Lightning at TD Garden. The Bruins were lucky to get away with a 6-5 regulation win to even the Eastern Conference final at one game apiece.
“I don’t think anybody in that dressing room is extremely happy with our game because we got sloppy at times,” Julien said of his team’s defense after building a 6-3 lead heading into the final period. “And we turned pucks over and weren’t strong on in the third period. But there’s no doubt we were hanging on. And thank God time was on our side and we came up with the win. So we need to regroup here, take the win for what it is in the playoffs, and know that we got to get better.
“When two teams start the series and they are two of the best defensive teams in the playoffs and then you see a game like this, I don’t think anybody’s happy. We want to score goals, there’s no doubt there. But the way we’ve been giving up goals is not something that we’re proud of right now. And we need to be better in regards to that.”
Julien also hinted that the play of Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder could coincide with the return of Patrice Bergeron in Game 3. Bergeron missed the first two games of the series with a mild concussion. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.18.11 at 1:35 am ET|