|Tim Thomas: Bolts first goal actually made me ‘relax’||05.24.11 at 12:43 am ET|
It was the most sensational save of a sensational season for Tim Thomas.
With 10:40 left in the third period and the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead, an Eric Brewer missed shot off the boards from the point meant Steve Downie had an open net for a game-tying tap-in. Then Thomas and his stick appeared at the very last possible moment. Thanks to that brilliant save and 32 others, the Bruins won, 3-1, and are on the doorstep of their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1990.
And to think Thomas actually credits the spectacular save and phenomenal game – in part – to the only goal he allowed on the night. The score 69 seconds into the first by Simon Gagne – of course – might have made the crowd and Bruins fans everywhere really nervous. It had the opposite effect on Thomas.
“Well, two things happen,” Thomas explained. “One, the thought crosses your mind that, oh, I got to bear down even if it’s another two-on-one I got to find a way to make the save because we can’t afford to get down 2-0. The teams are too tight and the games are too tight for that to happen, so that thought is in there.
“The second thing that happens is actually in a funny way to start to relax a little bit and I don’t know how it works but it kind of works that way for me. I don’t want to let in an early goal, obviously, but I’ve had experience with it in the past and for some reason, sometimes it can relax me and that’s kind of the effect it had tonight. It was just kind of like I’m going to have to work hard and do the best I can to not let them get any further way and to give us a chance to win.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins overcome rough start, take Game 5||05.23.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins pulled the opposite of the first-period-only effort that cost them Game 4, and on Monday night at the TD Garden, they overcame a terrifying first 20 minutes in Game 5 to beat the Lightning, 3-1, and come within a win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
With Tampa Bay leading 1-0 after dominating the first period and seeing Simon Gagne score his latest against the B’s, the Bruins got second-period goals from Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand to give Boston a 2-1 lead that they would hold until Rich Peverley made the final 3-1 on an empty-netter.
The Bruins didn’t get many shots on Tampa goalie Mike Smith (only four in the first period), but the two they did get past him proved to be enough. Boston’s 20 shots on goal stands as their lowest total this postseason.
Tim Thomas made 33 saves on the night, turning in a sensational performance that undoubtedly stands among his best this postseason. On a rather fascinating note, the team that has scored the first goal this series has now gone 2-3.
A late hit in from Steve Downie in the third period forced Johnny Boychuk down the tunnel, and he did not play in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Bruins will have the opportunity to close out the series Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- On the night, Thomas was superb. Downie was the biggest victim of Thomas’ play, as the Bruins netminder robbed him on multiple occasions. Thomas stopped Downie point-blank on a bang-bang play in the second, but made one of the best saves of his historic season in laying out to get his stick on what looked like a sure-fire game-tying goal. The Garden absolutely erupted when Thomas was shown on the big screen at the next stoppage.
- Brad Marchand finally showed up on the sheet, and not just for his dive in the second period. The 23-year-old rookie didn’t let Martin St. Louis take him out of the play him as he raced to the net to put bang home a beautiful pass from Patrice Bergeron down low. It was Marchand’s first point of the series, as he followed a six-point second round with goose-eggs and only five shots on goal in the first four games against the Lightning. Marchand’s overall performance continues to leave more to be desired, but he had flashes — such as a hard-nosed shift about five minutes into the third period — that suggest the B’s could be closer to seeing the Marchand they got to know and love over the regular season and throughout the first two rounds.
- The Bruins were beyond lucky to somehow end up winning the game, and an individual instance in which they lucked out was when Thomas barely got a piece of the puck on a great opportunity by Blair Jones early in the third. The contact Thomas could make with the puck was enough to it off send it off the post on its way away from harm. Jones was just as sure as any that he would score on the play, as he was celebrating as the puck took its new direction.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins came out looking like a team totally unaware it was in Game 5 of the conference finals. From physicality to decision-making, it was an awful first period and one that should have seen a larger Lightning lead than 1-0. The Bruins had only four shots on Smith in the first period, and aside from one strong shift late in the first by the David Krejci line, there was little to no engagement from Boston’s forwards.
- Horton ultimately redeemed himself by scoring the tying goal in the second, but his two penalties before that were, for lack of a better word, dumb. In the final minute of the first, he laid a hit on Nate Thompson in the neutral zone despite the fact that the puck was already a good 10 feet behind him. Less than a minute after leaving the box, Horton went right back in when he slashed Hedman’s stick out of his hands after missing a big hit. The Bruins want and need Horton to play with an edge, but his two penalties Monday night clearly crossed the line.
- Not a good night for Tyler Seguin. He looked lost in all zones in the first period and took an obvious tripping penalty with the B’s lifeless and trailing 6:45 into the first. The rookie was taken off the third line late in the period by Claude Julien and was replaced on the wing by Peverley. He would play more in the second period, but had a turnover on a blind pass in the offensive zone that led to a Lightning rush that was saved by Andrew Ference.
- The power play was possibly the worst it’s been all playoffs, as impossible as that might sound. The Bruins registered zero (yes, zero) shots on goal on their first three power plays. Bad entries and bad passes were once again the name of the game for Boston’s man advantage. They struggled to get the puck in deep and gain possession, and when they did, they struggled to put passes on the tape, resulting in a number of easy clears for the Lightning. It’s one thing to not score on the power play; it’s another to not even get a shot. The one good sign on the power play was that Julien finally used Zdeno Chara as a net-front presence on the team’s last power play. They even got a shot on the fourth power play.
The Bruins learned the hard way Saturday that they need more than a strong start and a big day from Patrice Bergeron to get their third victory of the Eastern Conference finals. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 4, the Bruins will be back at home Monday to take on the Lightning in Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Take advantage of playing at home/score the first goal. The Bruins don’t want to find themselves a loss away from elimination when the teams head back to Tampa for Game 6, so taking care of business in their own building will be key.
The B’s weren’t able to score the first goal in Games 1 and 2, though they were able to head to Tampa with the series tied at a game apiece. The first goal hasn’t been everything this series, as the team to strike first has gone 2-2 thus far.
- The B’s must get the type of production from David Krejci’s line that made the second round such a walk in the park. Krejci was a minus-3 with zero shots on goal in Game 4, while Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each had just one shot on goal in the loss.
- The Bruins’ second line probably would be a stinker as well if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Bergeron. If it weren’t for a Brad Marchand interference penalty in the second period, there would be minimal proof that the feisty rookie even played in Game 4. Marchand had no shots on goal for the second time this series. The B’s have lost both games in which the 23-year-old has failed to put a shot on net. Mark Recchi is a minus-4 this series and has just five shots on goal.
- Selective memory would probably serve the B’s best after their Game 4 collapse. Remember that it happened, but don’t think about just how much momentum the come-from-behind win could have given Tampa Bay.
- Not that they will, but the B’s should at least give consideration to playing Steven Kampfer. We said it last week, and Saturday’s soft showing behind the net on a costly turnover to Sean Bergenheim only confirms it: it’s worth seeing what Kampfer can do in place of Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle looked better in Games 2 and 3, but if you’re going to give him between 11 and 12 minutes a game and he still finds a way to make them costly minutes as he did Saturday, you’re better off easing Kampfer back in with an 11-or-12-minute night. Kampfer has as many goals this season against the Lightning (two) as Kaberle has had turnovers that resulted in Tampa goals this series.
FIVE CRAZY STATS
- Kaberle’s 11:35 of ice time in Game 4 isn’t just ridiculously low for someone the team invested so much in, but it’s the lowest total that Kaberle – two injury games aside — has played in his entire career. While with the Maple Leafs, he left the team’s March 2, 2007 game vs. the Devils after being blindsided in the second period by Cam Janssen, and he left a Jan. 6, 2004 game with a shoulder injury in the first period. Back then, injuries were all that could keep Kaberle from playing less than 12 minutes. Now, it’s just poor play.
- That stuff about Michael Ryder turning it on in the playoffs is true. Ryder has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last five games. He never amassed more than five points in any five-game stretch during the regular season, and this five-game stretch ties for Ryder’s second-best as a member of the Bruins. He had nine points over the Bruins’ first five games of the 2009 playoffs.
- Tim Thomas has allowed four goals four times this postseason, and the Bruins are 3-0 thus far in games that directly followed said performances. Thomas allowed one goal in 89 minutes in Game 5 of the first round after allowing four goals two nights earlier. He followed the team’s 5-2 loss in the conference finals opener by allowing five in Game 2, but the B’s came away with the win. It was after that contest that Thomas really bounced back, blanking the Lightning in Game 3.
- Neither the Bruins nor the Lightning have scored a power play goal since Game 2 of the series. This marks the first time this postseason that the Bruins and their opponent have put up a goose-egg on the man advantage in consecutive games.
- Steven Stamkos is a minus-2 this series, and has only had a positive rating in one game this postseason. The lone positive rating came in Game 5 of the quarterfinals when he had two goals, an assist and was a plus-1.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS
- Whichever Lightning goalie starts. Dwayne Roloson has been chased from two of the series’ first four games, and Guy Boucher has yet to reveal whether Roloson will be a go for Game 5. If Boucher makes a change, it will be Mike Smith, who has stopped all 20 shots he’s seen from the B’s in 60:51 this series.
- Simon Gagne: The veteran winger simply slays the Bruins, and he did it to the tune of three points and a plus-4 rating in Game 4.
- Ryder and Tyler Seguin: In the event that Lucic and Horton fail to step it up and Bergeron’s wingers continue to struggle, the B’s will need the magical Ryder/Seguin duo to light it up the way they did in Game 2. Seguin was on the ice for three of the Lightning’s five goals Saturday, but he’s been second to only Ryder this series as far as who the B’s best winger has been.
- Dennis Seidenberg: One last opportunity to point out that the B’s minute-eating defenseman had seven blocked shots in Game 4. He and Kaberle were out there for Gagne’s game-winner.
|After signs of improvement, Tomas Kaberle takes another step backwards in loss||05.21.11 at 7:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — Call it a Kaberlapse. After stronger performances in Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference finals gave the Bruins reason to believe that Tomas Kaberle was turning a corner, the 33-year-old defenseman reset the “Days Without a Costly Kaberle Turnover” safety board to zero in the team’s 5-3 loss to the Lightning in Game 4.
Tampa Bay tied the game at three in the second period when Kaberle turned in a soft play behind his own net and was outmuscled by Sean Bergenheim, who stole the puck and scored to tie it up.
“I saw it. I lost it between my legs there,” Kaberle said after the game. “I just have to be sure to be sharper on that play. It’s one of those games you have to learn from.”
The play looked more like the Kaberle of Game 1, who gave the puck away behind Thomas’ net for an easy Teddy Purcell goal. Kaberle picked up a secondary assist on Michael Ryder‘s first-period goal on Saturday, but was a minus-1 on the day. After blocking a shot in the third period, he tried to go for a change but stayed out in an effort to prevent Simon Gagne’s game-winner. Gagne fired a wrister past Kaberle and Thomas to make it 4-3.
|Tim Thomas: Bolts ‘took over and outplayed us’||at 5:39 pm ET|
TAMPA — After blowing a 3-0 lead to the Lightning in a 5-3 loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Tim Thomas said the Bruins were simply a victim of their own mistakes and lack of hustle.
“We got outworked,” Thomas said. “They took over, they outplayed us, they started getting scoring chances and we stopped getting scoring chances.”
Midway through the second, Thomas had a 3-0 lead and stopped the first 14 shots he faced before the Lightning scored on three of their next five shots in the period to tie it. Thomas said it won’t do the Bruins any good to look back on the Game 4 collapse but rather focus on Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.
“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “It’s 2-2. I don’t know what the use of worrying about that would be but I think the focus should be oin winning the next game.”
Game 6 is scheduled for Wednesday back in Tampa.
|Claude Julien isn’t about to let his team think Stanley Cup finals yet||05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.
“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.
“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”
The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.
“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”
Lucic says there no need for reinforcement of Julien’s message from veterans like Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi or Tim Thomas.
“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”
The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.
TAMPA — Three key stars of Thursday night’s 2-0 win over the Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals were given the day off on Friday from the team’s brief practice at St. Pete Times Forum.
Captain Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and David Krejci were all absent as the team skated and went through drills for about 40 minutes in preparation for Game 4 Saturday afternoon in Tampa. Krejci scored the game’s first goal 69 seconds into the opening period Thursday while Tim Thomas turned away all 31 Lightning shots in recording the team’s first shutout of the 2011 playoffs.
Veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi were also given the day off. The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.
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