CSNNE hockey analyst Tony Amonte joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday to talk about the Bruins-Lightning series, which is tied heading into Monday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page .
“It’s just really been a series of mistakes and capitalizing on those mistakes,” Amonte said. “And I think both teams have done that.”
Amonte pointed to an uninspired power play at the start of the second period as the beginning of the downfall for the B’s in Game 4 Saturday. Said Amonte: “They come out for a two-minute power play on fresh ice. There should be no question there, getting the puck in, getting it set up. They actually hurt themselves on the power play. They didn’t get the puck in. The effort wasn’t there. And that set the tempo for that whole period. They come out of that 3-3 and now they’re in trouble. They’re scrambling after that.”
Added Amonte: “I just think that they went into the locker room, they relaxed for a minute, they forgot about what they needed to do to be successful. And it’s just hard work. That’s what the Bruins are all about ‘ how hard they work, how much they can outwork their opponent. That’s when they’ve been successful this postseason.
“Secondly, they lost the physical game. They got bumped around pretty bad and they didn’t react, and they didn’t adjust to it and get on the physical play themselves. They just kind of sat back, took it, and Tampa was able to take that game over.”
Amonte, who is sticking with his pre-series prediction of Bruins in six games, said he expects a quick recovery for the B’s. “I love the way the Bruins have rebounded all playoffs long,” he said. “They’ve been able to shrug these things off and move on and get into the next game. You’ve got to look for [David] Krejci‘s line tonight. I think Claude [Julien] gave them a little bit of a back-hander in the media yesterday, saying they needed to be better. Every time he’s done that, that line has stepped up and played better that next game.”
Tomas Kaberle  has received a healthy dose of criticism for his play this postseason. Amonte said he expects that Julien will try to pick his spots with the defenseman.
“Kaberle will get on the power play. I think that’s what he’s probably going to be on the bench for, to get some power-play time,” Amonte said. “If the game’s going their way, you’ll see him spotted in. They’ll try to get him back into the flow of things and get his mindset right.
“You have to battle. Even if you’re not a battler and you’re not a physical guy in the playoffs, you have to change your game and take on that. You have to be physical. You have to battle. He just hasn’t done it through his career in the regular season, but in the postseason you have to do it.”
Added Amonte: “This has been his career. I played against him, in Philly, he was with Toronto. And he was the same exact player: great with the puck, puck-moving defenseman, sets up his linemates, but just never known as a pure battler. He’s not a typical Bruins player and what the fans would expect, a little bit different. Being brought in for the power play and not having as great of an effect has really turned the fans on him.”
As for the Lightning, there’s a question as to who will start in net: Dwayne Roloson, who has shined in the playoffs, or backup Mike Smith, who took over for Roloson toward the end of the first period in Game 4 and did not allow a goal as Tampa Bay came back with the game’s final five tallies for a 5-3 victory.
“If I’m coaching, I put Smith in. But I think they’re going to stick with Roloson,” Amonte said. “He brought him there, he’s done a great job so far this year. And like [Guy] Boucher said: Yeah, Smith has played off the bench, but he hasn’t done it when he’s started. And I think that was the cryptic message he was trying to send, that Smith just hasn’t done it when he’s gotten the starts and the pressure has totally been on him. He’s been great off the bench, but he hasn’t done it all season long.”