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.”