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Don Cherry on D&C: ‘This is going to be a battle of goaltenders’

05.13.11 at 9:00 am ET
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Don Cherry

Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bruins picked things up offensively in the series sweep of the Flyers, but Cherry said goals will be at a premium against Lightning backstopper Dwayne Roloson. He predicts both team’s goalies will take center stage in this series.

“I tell you one thing, they won’t get those goals off of Roloson,” Cherry said. “I phoned [Capitals coach] Bruce Boudreau in January and left him a message. I usually don’t do that, but I said, ‘You’ve got to get a hold of that Roloson. This guy will win you the Stanley Cup. He’s hungry, he’s 41 years old, this is his last shot.’ And he didn’t do it. A week later, [Lightning general manager] Stevie Yzerman picked him up. I think he got two shutouts in a row, shut out Washington. He is dynamite.

“And I’ll tell you one thing: Philadelphia, I have never understood them that they have gone 20 years and they seem as if they don’t want to get a good goaltender. It’s beyond me.

“You watch this guy [Saturday night], Roloson. He is dynamite. But Timmy Thomas, right on the money, too. This is going to be a battle of goaltenders.”

Added Cherry of Thomas: “Timmy Thomas is on a roll right now. He’s got something to prove.”

Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-75 through 1978-79, predicts the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks. “I like Boston,” he said. “I picked Boston to be in the finals. But this will be a tough one, because these guys are on a roll — [Martin] St. Louis and [Vincent] Lecavalier. And [Steven] Stamkos hasn’t really picked it up yet. I’ll tell you one thing: This is going to be a great series.”

The Bruins’ biggest edge may come in the toughness department, as the Lightning are known more for their skill players.

“They’re not as tough as the Bruins,” Cherry stated. “And the big thing the Bruins have got going for them, too, somehow [Zdeno] Chara‘s gotten mean. And I’ve always said, if this guy ever starts getting mean he could be the best defenseman in a long time. If I was them, I’d just leave him alone and let him fall asleep. [The Flyers] did the stupid thing of trying to rile him up, and then you were dead.”

Rookie Tyler Seguin will be pressed into action with Patrice Bergeron recovering from a concussion. “I love this kid,” Cherry said of Seguin. “I’ve been watching him since he’s 14, 15, too. What a thing to get this kid. I know he didn’t get a lot of goals, but boy, wait in a couple of years till he gets a little confidence. He’ll be in there. He knows what’s going on. He won’t play that much, he’ll probably play about seven or eight  minutes. Look for him to get an important goal. I’m making a prediction.”

One of the keys in Game 1 is to score first. Said Cherry: “I always said, ‘Get that first goal.’ When you’re at home, the first thing you want to do is get that first goal and keep the crowd in it. It just kills you when the visiting team gets that first goal. Get that first goal. Blitz them the way we used to do. When they’d come in, people used to just hang on in the Garden when we were there. Get that first goal, and no dummy penalties.”

After the Canadiens were criticized for diving to draw penalties in the opening-round series and similar actions detracted from the Western Conference semifinals, the NHL encouraged referees to crack down on the behavior. The Lightning were accused of flopping vs. the Capitals, but Cherry predicts that will end. “No, there won’t be any diving in this series. I guarantee it,” he said.

Read More: Don Cherry, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
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