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Tim Thomas blanks Lightning, Bruins take 2-1 series lead 05.19.11 at 10:43 pm ET
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TAMPA — Tim Thomas blanked the Lightning in a 2-0 Bruins win at St. Pete Times Forum, giving the Bruins a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Lightning gave the Bruins’ netminder a run for his money in heavily outshooting the B’s in the third period, but Thomas and the Bruins held on for the 37-year-old’s first shutout of the postseason.

David Krejci opened the scoring for the Bruins, taking a feed from Milan Lucic and having all day to deke Dwayne Roloson in front to make it 1-0. The B’s scored again in the second period on a goal from Andrew Ference.

Both the B’s and Lightning went 0-for-3 on the power play, marking the first time this series that a special teams goal was not scored by either team.

The teams will square off for Game 4 in a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday before returning to Boston for Monday’s Game 5.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Krejci now has goals in back-to-back games, his second such streak of the postseason. The first-line center had goals in three straight games (four total goals) to kick off the second round. With seven playoff goals, Krejci now leads the team in the postseason and through 14 games has more than half the tallies he amassed a 13-goal regular season (75 games).

- After allowing 10 goals (one of which was an empty-netter) over the first two games of the series, the Bruins buckled down defensively. Dennis Seidenberg had a huge blocked shot when Thomas kicked a rebound off a Vincent Lecavalier shot right onto the stick of Martin St. Louis in front. Seidenberg got in the way to break up a golden opportunity, and it wasn’t the only case of a Bruins’ defenseman coming up big. A little more than six minutes into the game, a long pass through the neutral zone set up a 2-on-1 for Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Zdeno Chara intercepted St. Louis’ pass to Lecavalier. Lucic had a big block in the third period when the game was 1-0 to keep the Bruins ahead.

- Another strong showing from unsung hero Ference, who fired the shot from the point on the goal that was somehow initially credited to Seguin. The puck slowly trickled through the pads of Roloson, though many in the press box were scratching their heads as to how Seguin factored into the scoring, as Chris Kelly was in front. Either way, it was created by a Ference shot that served as the latest reminder that it’s too bad that No. 21′s season has only gotten recognition as a result of gestures and comments about Daniel Paille.

- Kind of hard to believe it took this long given how solid he was late in the Montreal series and throughout the second round, but Thomas has his first shutout of the postseason. As WEEI’s Dale Arnold astutely pointed out on twitter, Thomas’ play this series is reminiscent of the first round when a couple of merely human games were followed by the Thomas people around Boston got used to in the regular season. It was Thomas’ first postseason shutout since May 10, 2010 when the B’s blanked the Hurricanes, 4-0, in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Scary moment for the B’s with about two and a half minutes to go in the first period. Krejci took a pass in the neutral zone and was absolutely leveled by Marc-Andre Bergeron. Krejci remained on the ice for a bit but went back to the bench rather than the quiet room. He did not play the rest of the period, while Bergeron went off for an elbow. Luckily for the B’s the center was out there for his line’s first shift in the second period.

- The Bruins got their big power play showing in Game 2, but Thursday night’s results did not mirror those of Tuesday’s two-goal showing. The B’s went 0-for-3 on the night and followed the postseason-long trend of getting progressively better. The B’s had just one shot on the power play that followed the Krejci hit, while a second-period man advantage thanks to a too-many-men call was cut short when Patrice Bergeron interfered with Adam Hall at the blue line to prevent the Tampa winger from having a shorthanded breakaway. The unit did look good the third time around, as a rocket from Seidenberg was among the three shots for the B’s.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, David Krejci, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin
Claude Julien still not quite saying Steven Kampfer is ready to play 05.19.11 at 2:29 pm ET
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TAMPA — Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer said earlier in the week that he is “definitely” ready to go if the Bruins need him, but coach Claude Julien still isn’t ready to go that far. Julien reiterated his week-long message that Kampfer, who is coming off a knee injury, is “close.”

“He’€™s pretty close I think. I just talked to him after practice there. We had a little bit of a chat on the ice and talked about what he’€™s been through the last little while and how he’€™s felt and everything else, so I think he’€™s getting pretty close to that,” Julien said after Thursday’s skate. “If anything, I think pretty soon we’€™ll be able to say he’€™s a guy that could jump in if something happened.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Steven Kampfer,
Brad Marchand hoping to see Patrice Bergeron play, preparing for end of the world 05.19.11 at 1:54 pm ET
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TAMPA — While there’s been no official word on whether Patrice Bergeron will be in Thursday’s lineup, but one player who would benefit from the concussed center’s return would be rookie winger Brad Marchand. Skating on a line centered by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley in Games 3 and 4 of the conference finals, respectively, Marchand has had subpar showings (a minus-3 rating this series and just one shot on goal) and would like to turn it around.

“It’s always different when you play with different guys. We’ve had a different centerman the last two games,” Marchand said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s a little tougher getting used to chemistry and where the guys are on the ice.”

During the Montreal series, Marchand spoke about how inspiring his linemate in Mark Recchi was for him. Given that the rookie plays on a line with two assistant captains, Bergeron has had a similar influence. Marchand said Thursday he can recall the first time he realized how great a presence Bergeron is for him.

“It was a long time ago. I remember we had a training camp or development camp one time. It was right after his concussion, and he came out and I was battling with him in the corner,” Marchand said. “I just realized how strong he was on the puck, and how difficult it was to take the puck from him. From that point forward, I was like, ‘I want to be like that — play the same way, work on that and add that element to my game.’ I remember that very clearly, and from that point forward, I wanted to play more like him.”

—–

Kudos to Herald columnist/Sports Sunday host/old-time baseball aficionado Steve Buckley for bringing up the end of the world around Marchand. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, some nutbars are claiming that the world will end on May 21, 2011. Marchand was the perfect player to mention it to, as it caused a really funny couple of minutes with reporters and the rookie wise-guy.

“It’s been nice knowing you guys,” a surprised and disappointed Marchand said when told of the news.

Given that the Bruins are playing a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday, the world could end (according to this theory) while the B’s are playing. Talk about getting off to a good start in the game — the B’s will at least want to be winning when the world ends.

“It would be a great way to kind of end the world on a high note and with a lead,” Marchand said. “Maybe get the win tonight, and we’ll be able to die happy people.”

And if they’re losing?

“If we fall behind, it won’t matter anyways,” he said. “I’d much rather die with a lead though.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron,
Lightning trying to ‘stop’ Tyler Seguin, Claude Julien wishes they’d stop ‘flattering’ Bruins 05.19.11 at 1:31 pm ET
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TAMPA — Nobody — even the biggest “play Seguin at all costs” crybabies — could have expected what Tyler Seguin has done in the Eastern Conference finals.

Since making his playoff debut in Game 1 of the conference finals, Seguin has had six points (3 G, 3 A) and has gone from an injury replacement to a big problem for the Lightning in a matter of six periods.

‘€œThe first two games, it’s clear the players and everybody underestimated his speed,” Tampa coach Guy Boucher said of Seguin. “That’€™s the main thing. His speed is obviously a weapon for him and his team. Being a young guy and having success right away, it certainly takes a lot of the nervousness away, and for us we know he’€™s going to be on the ice and we have to be able to keep up with his speed.’€

The praise from the Lightning wasn’t limited to Boucher, as one player who knows Seguin’s style better than most said the team needs to find a way to prevent the rookie from taking over another game like he did in Game 2 (2 G, 2 A). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic misses morning skate, but will play Game 3 vs. Lightning 05.19.11 at 1:08 pm ET
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TAMPA — Bruins forward Milan Lucic was not on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate at St. Pete Times Forum, marking his second straight absence from a morning skate after getting hit on the right foot by a Tyler Seguin shot in Monday’s practice. Despite whatever discomfort Lucic may be feeling, coach Claude Julien confirmed after the skate that the team’s regular-season leader in goals will be in the lineup Thursday night vs. the Lightning.

“There’s no issues,” Julien said of Lucic. He’s going to be in tonight. “During the playoffs, there’s certain things you do, and you give guys time off for whatever reason. He’s going to be in there, and there won’t be any excuses to his game at all. ‘€¦ There’s very minor issues when it comes to that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic
Claude Julien says Patrice Bergeron is ‘getting real close’ to returning to game action 05.19.11 at 12:51 pm ET
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TAMPA — Bruins center Patrice Bergeron participated in the team’s morning skate Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum, doing drills and taking faceoffs as the B’s prepare for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning.

Coach Claude Julien said that Bergeron is “feeling pretty good” and is “getting real close,” but said that a decision on whether Bergeron is ready for game action will be made either Thursday or Friday.

“He’s still day-to-day,” Julien said. “Until I’m told that he’s cleared — he obviously had to skate this morning, and we had to see what’s going on — all of this is protocol stuff and everything else that goes with it. I don’t want to elaborate more.”

Julien said prior to Game 2 that if Bergeron skated in warmups, it would be an indication that he was playing. The coach offered the same message Thursday.

“If you see him out there in the warmup tonight, I’m not just sending him out there for a skate. He’s going to be playing.”

In 11 games this postseason, Bergeron has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,
Bruins-Lightning Game 3 preview 05.19.11 at 2:10 am ET
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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.

- Only two Bruins players have a minus-3 rating over the last three games. Those two players would be Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Think they’€™d like to get Bergeron back?

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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chris Kelly, Dwayne Roloson, Johnny Boychuk
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