|05.17.11 at 1:15 pm ET|
As Tomas Kaberle continues to struggle, the Bruins could be getting closer to having a viable option (and one who has fared well against the Lightning) to threaten his ice time.
Defenseman Steven Kampfer, who suffered a knee injury late in the regular season while getting some playing time in Providence, told WEEI.com Tuesday that he is “definitely” ready to return to the lineup if need be. Kampfer, 22, has spent extra time out on the ice as he works to get his back into tip-top shape.
“I feel ready to go,” Kampfer said Tuesday. “It’s something that I talked about with the trainers the other day. If something happens, I definitely feel ready to go. It’s those extra couple skates that are definitely going to help.”
In the three games in which the B’s have had to go without one of their six regulars this postseason — Game 2 of the conference quarterfinals for Zdeno Chara and Games 3 and 4 of the semifinals for Adam McQuaid — Shane Hnidy has played, but has done so sparingly.
Coach Claude Julien has said multiple times recently that Kampfer is healthy, but that his conditioning as he returns to skating remains what separates him from being an option if needed. He barely strayed from that line Tuesday, saying Kampfer is “still working on his conditioning, but certainly getting close.”
Kampfer admitted that his conditioning remains a process, but that the extra work he’s put in has gotten to a point where he’d be comfortable returning to the lineup.
“When you don’t skate for a month, it definitely takes a while to get your conditioning back,” Kampfer said. “You can ride the bike, you can do things like that, but skating condition is different than a bike and everything like that. We’ve been doing a little extra work here and there, and a couple more extra skating sessions is definitely going to help.”
While it would seemingly take an injury for Kampfer to make his postseason debut, the idea of him putting a little pressure on Kaberle should be considered out of the question. Kaberle was awful in Game 1, and throughout the playoffs has been a disappointment for the Bruins. A good puck-moving defenseman is an asset against a team like the Lightning, but the only notable moving of a puck by Kaberle in Game 1 came on his turnover behind his own net to lead to a goal, and his confusing slap shot into the corner on the power play in the second period.
If Kaberle keeps putting up stinkers for 15-plus minutes a night, maybe it would be worth it to give the kid a chance. Call it the defensive version of the Tyler Seguin/Michael Ryder lineup spot argument, but Kampfer has performed at his best against Tampa, scoring two of his five goals this season against the Lightning. His speed and passing ability matches up well against a team that shows different looks in the neutral zone as well.
“It definitely fits my style when you play a team that I guess plays a 1-3-1,” Kampfer said of Guy Boucher‘s neutral zone forecheck. “You move your feet and you can skate through it, but that’s something our whole team can do. Everyone here is quick and everyone can make passes. It’s something that we’ve got to [do] tonight and the rest of the series.”
Though Kampfer had goals against the Lightning on Dec. 28 (his first career tally) and March 3, he said he doesn’t look at the Tampa matchup and think of how he can change the series. As he waits for his time, he has confidence in the guys out there.
“Anyone can make a difference in this series,” he said. “It’s just how you play and how you take the game plan to them. It’s something that we talked about this morning, is how our team’s going to play. We have our system that we’re going to stick to. I think everyone has had success against this team, and I think everyone here knows how to play.”
When Kampfer actually returns to game action for the Bruins remains unknown. If it’s this series, next series or next season, he’ll be ready to continue working off a rookie campaign that had its ups (the Tampa games, nine games of 20 minutes or more in 38 contests) and the downs (the disastrous ending to the March 17 game in which a misplay and a bad penalty cost the team the game and cost him his spot in the lineup) of his rookie campaign.
If Kaberle continues to struggle though, maybe it’s worth rolling the dice. Yes, Kaberle was a costly acquisition, but the Bruin showed in Games 3 and 4 of the second round that they can win without putting him out there. It’s crazy to think, but it’s not out of the question. A combination of more duds from Kaberle and a ready-to-go Kampfer could put a bit more pressure on the 33-year-old, if it isn’t there already.
|05.17.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
The Bruins had only two absences for their morning skate Tuesday, with forwards Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic the only players to miss the skate. Recchi does not take part in postseason morning skates, while Lucic could have been given the morning off due to a shot off the foot he took from Tyler Seguin on Monday.
Coach Claude Julien noted after practice that there was nothing to worry about with Lucic, and offered very little on the status of Patrice Bergeron, who was on the ice Tuesday morning but will reportedly miss Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals due to the concussion from which he is still recovering.
“As far as Bergeron is concerned, I think if he’s in, you’re going to see him in the warmups,” Julien said. “With Lucic, there is no issues there are all.”
Bergeron has two goals and 10 assists this postseason for a team-leading 12 points in 11 games. Lucic, who led the team with 30 goals in the regular season, has two goals and three assists for five points.
|05.17.11 at 10:23 am ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning Tuesday night, according to the Boston Globe. Bergeron has been out with a concussion since leaving Game 4 of the conference semifinals following a hit from Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux.
Bergeron began skating on Sunday, and has skated each day since. He has not been cleared for contact yet, which was made evident by his leaving Monday’s practice (his first with the team since suffering the concussion) early.
|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.