|Bruins-Lightning Game 2 preview||05.17.11 at 2:07 am ET|
Twos are wild as the Bruins take on the Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. The B’s are looking to knot the series at one game apiece before it moves to Tampa for Games 3 and 4, and they’ll need to correct some costly mistakes that doomed them in Game 1.
With the number two in mind, here’s a preview of the contest:
Two things the Bruins need to do:
- Go back to winning 5-on-5. The excuse for the Bruins amidst their power play’s horrid 2-for-41 playoff showing is that they were playing dominant 5-on-5 hockey to make up for it. It was an argument that was clearly backed up by their ability to advance through two rounds, but the B’s gave Game 1 away with both teams at even strength, letting the Lightning score three goals ‘ two of which were unassisted ‘ in a matter of 1:25. The Lightning did score a power play goal in the third period, but it was the ugly first period that lost the Bruins the game.
The Bruins have clearly been the best 5-on-5 team throughout the playoffs. Their 33 goals for lead all remaining teams, while the 16 goals they have allowed is the lowest total among the last four teams. They just cam’t let those numbers take hit like they did Saturday, because for a team whose power play is a non-factor, they have to make sure they do all the damage they can at even strength.
- Know which Tomas Kaberle shows up, and adjust accordingly. Yes, this is coming from the same person who noted Kaberle’s skills could help them in this series, and while they still can, the 33-year-old proved to be nothing but a liability (again) in Game 1. The Bruins limited his minutes significantly (13:20 and 13:15, respectively; the his lowest totals of the last five seasons) in Gmaes 3 and 4 of the Philadelphia series and were still able to win, so 17:29 for a guy who committed as bad a turnover as one could in Game 1 Saturday was excessive. Putting Kaberle on a tighter leash means more minutes for other guys, but they were able to pull it off twice last series. If Kaberle is going to cost them, he can’t be out there as much.
Two crazy numbers:
- Steven Stamkos led the Lightning with 297 shots on goal in the regular season, yet Game 1 was the second game this postseason in which he failed to put a puck on net. The Lightning went 4-3-0 in the regular season when Stamkos didn’t register a shot on goal, while they lost the other playoff game in which he put up a goose egg.
The playoff leader in shots on goal remains James van Riemsdyk, and it will likely be at least a couple games before he is surpassed. With 70 through two rounds, he leads the field by nine shots.
- Mark Recchi‘s 20:02 of ice time made Saturday the first time in a while that he led Bruins forwards in time on ice. He did not do so at all during the regular season, and you would have to go back to Jan. 19, 2010 to find the last time he did. He led B’s forwards in ice time on three occasions that season, including the first time Winter Classic.
Two key players:
- Patrice Bergeron: Guy Boucher keeps saying he’s expecting the concussed center to be in the Bruins’ lineup Tuesday, and if the Lightning coach is proven right, the Bruins will win the ‘best media deception’ award. From what we’ve seen, he’s skated only three times and he hasn’t taken contact. Unless he’s doing something we’re not seeing, it’s hard to imagine the B’s rushing him back.
- Sean Bergenheim: Nobody planned on having to account for Bergenheim in the playoffs, but so far, nobody has been able to stop him. After scoring just 14 regular-season goals, the third-line winger added to his league leading playoff total Saturday with his eighth goal of the postseason.
|Nathan Horton on Patrice Bergeron: ‘We obviously need him’||05.16.11 at 6:05 pm ET|
The first of those goals is completely under the Bruins’ control. The second, not so much. And Horton and the Bruins know that.
‘That’s not our question [to answer],” Horton said Monday of whether he and the Bruins are expecting No. 37 to return healthy from a mild concussion in time for Tuesday. “It’s nothing to do with us. It’s how he feels. He was out there today but I don’t think anyone knows exactly how he feels. Hopefully, he comes back sooner. We obviously need him. He’s a great player and it’s definitely nice for everyone to see him out there skating again.
‘We had two days off and it’s hard to come back just after that and get back in it. He hasn’t skated or done too much for a while but he looked great out there today. As you can tell, he stays in really good shape. He’s so fit and eats well and that’s why he was so good coming back on the ice.’
As for the discipline, Horton knows he can’t be wasting time letting checking line tough guy Dominik Moore frustrate him. Horton and Milan Lucic were tossed with 37 seconds to go Saturday night when they got into it with Moore and his linemates.
“He’s not under my skin at all,” Horton insisted Monday. “I just was trying to play physical and it just kind of happened. You try not to get frustrated but obviously, you see, some guys were frustrated on our team and that’s not what we want. We want to stay away from that. When we play our game, play the way we want to play, that gets under the other team’s skin and that’s how we need to play from here on out.’
Tyler Seguin sounded a more optimistic – even positive – tone about Bergeron after watching him skate with the white sweater on during Monday’s practice.
‘It’s very nice. Everyone feels good that he’s making great strides and he looked pretty good out there to me so it’s going to be great to have him back soon,’ said Seguin, who still believes he can help the team in the playoffs, even if Bergeron returns to active duty.
‘Definitely, I want to stay in the lineup and contribute but I’m getting ready for anything. I’m staying prepared and try not to think about it too much. I want to focus on my game because whenever the opportunity arises, I want to be right there to capitalize on it.’
Rich Peverley, who filled Bergeron’s role on the No. 2 line Monday in practice, agreed with Seguin’s assessment of Bergeron.
‘He looked good,” Peverley said. “He looked like himself. Hopefully, he’s back soon.’
It’s hard to know what to expect for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals given the uncertainty that surrounds Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins center has skated the last three days and participated in Monday’s practice, but coach Claude Julien still isn’t saying when the center will be back for the B’s. Amidst the fog that clouds Bergeron’s status, the Lightning have an easy strategy: assume the Bruins’ points leader this postseason will play.
This isn’t the first time the Lightning have been through this, after all. Tampa Bay faced the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins in the first round, but kept the mindset going into each game that Crosby would return to the lineup. They’re taking the same approach with the Bruins and Bergeron.
“We prepared for him playing for the first game, so we’re preparing for him just like we did with Pittsburgh,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Monday. “We told the players Sidney was going to play every game, and that’s the way we approach it.”
Bergeron has been out for the B’s since leaving Game 4 of the conference finals in the third period following a hit from Claude Giroux. He leads Boston with 12 points in the playoffs, and has arguably been the team’s best player this postseason. As a result, when the Lightning prepare as though he’ll play, they have a lot to prepare for.
“We know how important he is to the team,” Boucher said of the 25-year-old. “He’s a great player. He’s a great individual. And that usually has a tendency to uplift your team in terms of confidence, and we know the impact he’s got on the faceoff. So obviously his team’s going to start with the puck a lot more often.
“It changes a lot of things in terms of the way the game is going to develop. So we’re expecting him to be there for the opening faceoff, and if he’s not, which I highly doubt, I think he’s going to be there. It just makes it way harder.”
Julien clearly isn’t willing to venture to guess as to when the B’s will have Bergeron back, but if Boucher’s guess is correct, the Bruins coach will be happiest of all.
Bruins coach Claude Julien made the decision to mix up the second and third lines in Monday’s practice, but speaking after the skate, he hardly sounded like a man who had his Game 2 lineup set in stone.
Rich Peverley made the jump to the second line in the practice after playing Game 1 between Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. Peverley skated Monday with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Chris Kelly took his spot on the third line with. Center Patrice Bergeron rotated in with the second line during line drills, centering Marchand and Recchi (his usual trio), as well as Marchand and Peverley.
Julien said he doesn’t know whether he will have Bergeron for Game 2, and that Monday’s lines were put in place to give him more options should he feel a change is in order.
“Just moving guys around a little bit,” Julien said following the practice. “I think it’s important that if we’re going to [mix up lines], that they get used to playing with each other. Kelly has an opportunity to play with that line and has gotten used to them a little bit. Now Peverley [has skated with Recchi and Marchand] and I’ve got some options. Just giving some thought to maybe different combinations if need be, and tomorrow we’ll decide which one we want to go with.”
Mixing up the second and third lines would be nothing new for Julien this series. He moved Seguin up to the second line with Kelly and Marchand in the third period of the team’s Game 1 loss, with Recchi moving down to the third line with Peverley and Ryder.
‘I think me and Kells [Chris Kelly] might do some switching off,” Peverley said. “I think it’s just to give an option down the middle there. I’m just going to try and play my game. I’m not going to try and be Bergy. He’s a tremendous player. I’ll just try and use my speed.
‘Usually, you try and prepare to play with anybody. And you want to be able to play with anybody. I don’t think it’s going to be any different at all.’
As for what needs to change, Peverley broke out a time-tested but very appropriate hockey cliche.
‘We played well but we didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” Peverley said. “Obviously, you make mistakes at this time of year, they end up in the back of your net. Some costly mistakes, a little bit of a lull there and within a minute-25 seconds, we’re down 3-0. We can’t let that happen and we have to be fully prepared.’
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron took a significant step in his return from the concussion he suffered in Game 4 of the conference semifinals, skating with the team for Monday’s practice. It was his third straight day of on-ice work, and the first with his teammates since suffering the concussion.
Bergeron did not don his usual yellow (second line) jersey, though he did participate in line drills, rotating in on his regular line that now consists of Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi and Rich Peverley. He also took part in special teams drills prior, though he left the ice early without taking contact. Though it seems the center is making quick progress, coach Claude Julien didn’t offer too much on where the 25-year-old stands.
“He’s going through the protocol of what he has to go through,” Julien said. “There’s not much more to update you guys on except [to say] when he is ready to go, you guys will know it. You can’t predict how quickly or how soon it’s going to be. It’s just one of those situations where right now, you see him going through today’s skate. That’s protocol. Right now we’re not ready to make any comments, because he’s just going through those stages.”
Asked specifically about Bergeron’s chances of playing in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning on Tuesday, Julien was not ready to lean either way.
“No comments,” the coach said. “I don’t know.”
|Patrice Bergeron back on the ice for Bruins practice||at 11:17 am ET|
In a sign that he may be ready to return for Game 2 Tuesday night against the Lightning, Patrice Bergeron returned to full practice Monday morning with the rest of the Bruins. Bergeron has missed the last week – including Boston’s 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern finals against Tampa Bay Saturday night – with a mild concussion, suffered when he was hit by Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux on May 6.
Before practice, Bergeron came on the ice and skated in front of general manager Peter Chiarelli before participating in power play and penalty kill drills.
He was then cleared by the coaching staff to join in full practice. Bergeron participated in a light skate before Saturday morning’s pregame skate at the Garden and skated again Sunday before being cleared for Monday morning’s practice.
Bergeron skated with the power play until then worked on penalty kill drills against the Bruins’ second power play unit. Bergeron then took a shift with his normal linemates of Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi before leaving the ice at about 11:25, while the Bruins continued practicing. Bergeron was on the ice for approximately an hour.
|Claude Julien says Bergeron won’t return until he’s 100 percent||05.15.11 at 1:23 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron skated for the second straight day on Sunday, an encouraging sign as the Bruins await the concussed center’s return to the lineup. Coach Claude Julien made clear Sunday at TD Garden that while Bergeron is progressing, the team has zero intention of rushing the 25-year-old back into the lineup.
“If he’s not 100 percent, he will never play,” Julien said. “Whether it’s regular season or playoffs, our organization, even before they tightened up the rules on that, there is no way we would ever do that to a player. That is too important to his personal lifestyle and the life he is going to lead after hockey that, that will always come before the game. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it should be.
“We believe in that and we are going to continue to enforce it, so the day you see Bergy back in our line-up, he will be 100 percent. If he’s not, you’re not going to see him.”
The concussion , which Bergeron suffered in the third period of Game 4 of the conference semifinals, is the third of the young center’s career. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.
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