|Unlike fans, Bruins and Lightning aren’t thrilled with 11-goal game||05.18.11 at 1:49 am ET|
Savor the 11-goal thriller while you can, because it’s probably not going to happen again. The Bruins and Lightning entered this series as the top two defensive teams in the postseason. High-scoring games like Tuesday night’s Game 2 are not their preference.
‘To be honest with you, it was a pond game tonight,’ Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. ‘When you play a pond hockey game, there is a chance that it won’t turn your way. It’s your breakaway, it’s my breakaway. It’s your 2-on-1, it’s my 2-on-1. It might be exciting for the fans, but from the teams’ perspective and standpoint, it’s not how we have played.’
The Bruins were obviously happy to get the win, but coach Claude Julien acknowledged that he wasn’t particularly thrilled with how wide-open the game was, either.
‘Not the way it opened up to the point that there were breakaways,’ Julien said. ‘When two teams start the series and they are two of the best defensive teams in the playoffs, and then you see a game like this, I don’t think anybody’s happy. We want to score goals, there’s no doubt there, but the way we’ve been giving up goals is not something that we’re proud of right now.’
The Lightning players said the anomaly of a game was due in part to a breakdown of their defense-first structure. Forward Vincent Lecavalier said the Bruins did a good job using their speed to exploit those breakdowns.
‘We didn’t play the way we usually do with our structure,’ Lecavalier said. ‘I don’t want to take credit away from the Bruins. I thought they came out flying in the first and second. ‘¦ Giving up five goals in that second period was tough. It seems every time we had a good chance, it would just come back. I think we just gave them a lot in the second, but they were skating. They were playing hard.’
Now the focus for both teams in the lead-up to Thursday’s Game 3 will be to get back to playing the type of defense that got them here, and to not allow as many odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances as they did Tuesday.
‘Really for both teams it was a strange game,’ said Bruins forward Mark Recchi. ‘I expect it to be much different when we both go back down there, to be the style we both usually play. It will be hard, another close one coming up, so we have a lot of work to do.’
|Guy Boucher on his Lightning: ‘We’ve done nothing yet’||05.15.11 at 12:47 am ET|
The Bruins are keeping quiet about it but Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said following his team’s 5-2 win in Game 1 Saturday night that the Lightning expect the return of Patrice Bergeron in time for Game 2 Tuesday night.
“They’re a really good team. They came out hard and they’re going to come out harder the next game,” Boucher said. “I’m expecting [Patrice] Bergeron to be in the lineup. I know Tim Thomas is going to make miracles. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t come out with probably his best game of the playoffs. They have a lot of pride and they came back in the first series [vs. Canadiens] from two games. It’s only one game. We’ve done nothing yet.”
Bergeron was diagnosed with a mild concussion following a hit by Claude Giroux in the third period of Game 4 against the Flyers on May 6. He took part in a light skate Saturday morning but was scratched for Game 1 on Saturday night.
|Nathan Horton ready to face old ‘rivals’ with stakes raised||05.10.11 at 8:40 pm ET|
Back during the preseason, Nathan Horton, who had come to the Bruins after playing the first six years of his career in Florida, was gearing up for his first game against the Canadiens. Sure, it was an exhibition, but it was a big deal for a player who never felt he played in a major rivalry.
Yet it wasn’t his first rivalry, it was just his first major rivalry. In asking Peter Chiarelli about it for a story, the general manager said “the Florida-Tampa rivalry, when it was going, actually there were some good games.”
It was tough for it to be seen as a major rivalry for Horton given that the stakes weren’t nearly as high. In his last three years in Florida, neither team made the playoffs, or even finished better than third in the Southeast Division. Horton had identified the in-state battle as being the closest thing he had to preparation for Bruins-Habs, saying he had “a little rivalry with Tampa Bay in Florida, but not really.”
What a difference a year makes.
Last season, only three points separated the fourth-place Lightning from the last-place Panthers in the cellar of their division. A year later, Horton is finally up to face the Lightning, though it’s taken relocation for him and major changes to Tampa Bay’s organization and roster to make it possible.
With a new general manager in Steve Yzerman, a new coach in Guy Boucher and a revamped roster, the Lightning are ready to storm into Boston this weekend with the intention of grabbing a lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Horton, still in his first postseason, is looking for a different result, and when it comes to him facing the lightning, the stakes are finally high.
“It’s weird,” Horton said Tuesday. “I mean, I’ve played them so many times in my career from when I played [in Florida]. They’ve been great this year. They’ve changed a lot from when I was there. They’ve gotten a lot better. Different faces, a new coaching staff. They’re a real talented team, but it’s definitely weird to be playing them.”
For Horton, it’s simply a sign of what change can do. For a player who wanted out of Florida, he’s enjoyed every second (his smile would suggest he’s even enjoyed the struggles) of his time in Boston. Change has been good for him, and it’s been good for the Lightning.
“It changes so quickly,” Horton said. “It’s going to be fun to go back there, and hopefully we can win some games.”
In four games against Tampa Bay this year, Horton has three assists.
|Fun with 1-3-1: How the Lightning beat teams in the neutral zone||05.09.11 at 3:56 pm ET|
WILMINGTON ‘ It’s spoken about as though it’s legend: the vaunted Tampa Bay 1-3- 1. It’s the key to Guy Boucher‘s success, and the reason why the Lightning are in the Eastern Conference finals. It can make opposing teams crumble ‘ just ask the Capitals. It sure is something.
But, um, what is it?
Since it seems it will be a matter of days before the Lightning and Bruins actually meet in the conference finals, there’s plenty of time to explain.
The 1-3-1 is a neutral zone scheme employed by the Lightning, and it seems to be a variation of the popular ‘trap’ system. Teams that play a trap style put one man on the puck, backed by essentially two guys behind him, and two defensemen back. Think of it as a 1-2-2 for the sake of understanding the differences.
In the 1-3-1, there is only one man hanging back, with three guys between the guy playing the puck and the last defenseman. For a fantastically in-depth look at Tampa’s 1-3-1, check out this lesson from the Japer’s Rink blog in DC.
The purpose of the 1-3-1 is to push the play toward the boards. If the first guy can do that, the three skaters in front of the man back (or ‘free safety’ as the blog likens it to), can make it very difficult for the team bringing it through the neutral zone to find seams. If turnovers can be created as a result, suddenly the team bringing the puck through the neutral zone is in big trouble.
‘If you get caught flat-footed I think you are playing into their strength,’ Claude Julien said after Monday’s practice. ‘If you create turnovers you are obviously going to pay for it so those are two of the main things you have to be careful about when they play that system.
‘When I say we saw Montreal sit back, but I think they sit back even more. And they are even deeper so the one thing they do is once they turn that puck over they counter quickly. It’s going to be really important that we minimize those and obviously you have to create some speed through the neutral zone because standing still you’re a dead duck.’
We’ll have more on the 1-3-1 and which Bruin could be instrumental in the 1-3-1.