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Bruins can’t close out Lightning despite David Krejci hat trick 05.25.11 at 10:46 pm ET
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TAMPA — The Bruins and Lightning are heading back to Boston to decide the Eastern Conference finals, as a hat trick from David Krejci was not enough to propel the B’s into the Stanley Cup Finals — instead, it was a 5-4 loss in Game 6 Wednesday night.

After the Bruins erased an early 1-0 Bolts lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Krejci. Tampa would come back with three unanswered goals before a back-and-forth third period left the B’s down by one following Krejci’s third goal.

Teddy Purcell did most of the Lightning’s damage to Tim Thomas, opening the scoring just 36 into the contest and giving Tampa a 3-2 lead 13:35 into the second period. Purcell now has six goals this postseason, three of which have come this round.

Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 of the Bruins’ 19 shots.

Game 7 will be played at TD Garden on Friday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS

- Another goal allowed very early for the Bruins. Krejci was set to take the face-off against Vincent Lecavalier and was tossed from the dot, allowing Lecavalier to go against Chris Kelly. The Tampa center won it cleanly, allowing for Purcell to blast one past Thomas. It was the Lightning’s second goal in the first minute of a game this series, and third goal in the first 1:09. Amazingly, it was the only game in the aforementioned three that the Lightning won.

- Yes, Eric Furlatt was officiating and the Lightning were penalized more than the B’s, but it was Tampa that won out when it came to actually capitalizing. The Bruins’ power play looked improved with Zdeno Chara in front, and Krejci scored his second of the game with the B’s on the man advantage in the third, but the Lightning went 3-for-4 as opposed to Boston’s 1-for-5.

- Once again, the Bruins simply couldn’t build momentum at St. Pete Times Forum. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the B’s blew a 2-1 lead in the second and got no boost from Krejci’s goal that brought them within one in the third. Martin St. Louis scored 29 seconds after Krejci’s tally.

- Taking an interference penalty with 13:02 remaining in a game in which your team is trying to make a two-goal comeback probably isn’t what you want to do if you’re Tomas Kaberle. The polarizing defenseman did just that in the corner on a play that left Ryan Malone bloodied. Kaberle actually had a good night defensively, but the penalty won’t help his reputation around Boston as a bust of an acquisition.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Krejci’s hat trick gives him five goals in six Eastern Conference finals games. The dominance from the second round hasn’t been there, but the numbers have been.

- Say what you want about Lucic disappearing this postseason, but he always smells blood when his team has a chance of ending a series. Lucic had a pair of tallies in Game 4 against the Flyers in the second round last year, and had three goals in Games 6 and 7 combined against Philly last year. Taking Games 6 and 7 against the Habs this year into consideration, Lucic now has 6 goals in the last six games in which the Bruins could eliminate an opponent.

- Dennis Seidenberg had a big play for the Bruins on a play in which the Lightning could have made it 4-2 late in the second. A Marc-Andre Bergeron shot yielded a rebound that Steven Stamkos tapped toward the net with Thomas out of position. Seidenberg literally put his foot down, stepping in front of the puck before it could hurt the B’s and starting a circus that landed Andrew Ference in the box for cross-checking Stamkos. The Lightning would score on the power play early in the second period on a goal from Stamkos, thus making the transaction a wash.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, David Krejci
Tony Amonte on M&M: ‘I love the way the Bruins have rebounded all playoffs long’ 05.23.11 at 12:50 pm ET
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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.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dwayne Roloson, Guy Boucher
Claude Julien sticking with Tomas Kaberle at 12:44 pm ET
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This space has long been a meeting place for the “Play Steven Kampfer” movement, but Bruins coach Claude Julien emphatically stated Monday that Tomas Kaberle is staying in the lineup.

“If you know the game well enough, you would understand that there’s some experience back there,” Julien said when a reporter asked about benching Kaberle. “You’ve got to also think, is that guy coming in a better player than Kaberle?”

In my humble opinion, I would answer “yes” to Julien’s question. Between Kampfer’s skill set/previous success vs. Tampa making him a good fit for this series and Kaberle’s ugly turnovers on which he’s looked indifferent, Kampfer could probably do more with 11:35 of ice time than Kaberle did in Game 4.

Yet Julien is correct in reminding doubters that sticking with a struggling player has worked for the Bruins. Many wanted Michael Ryder out of the lineup in the first round, and now Ryder has been the team’s best winger for the last five games.

“Some people wanted certain people out of the lineup earlier on, and our patience has paid off,” Julien said. “I don’t know why we decide that we should be taking [Kaberle] out of the lineup when there’s other players too that have struggled. I don’t know why we haven’t talked about that. That’s because we had patience. We believed in those guys, and Kaberle last game, that second goal, maybe [lost] the puck, but our system calls for support on that. Our support wasn’t there. According to our system, he’s not the only one to blame.”

Kaberle was certainly to blame for Sean Bergenheim’s game-tying goal in the second period Saturday, as the Lightning forward took the puck from Kaberle behind the Bruins’ net without a fight from No. 12. Kaberle was not to blame for Simon Gagne’s game-winner in the third, but Julien only addressed the fourth goal.

“On the winning goal, he blocks a shot, makes a great play. He’s trying to get off the ice, and we turn the puck over, so we keep playing Kaberle? I think people are a little hard on this guy,” Julien said. “I’m one of those guys that’s going to support him, and one of those guys who’s going to keep him in the lineup, in case you want to know. He’s going to be a good part of our hockey team. We got him because we believe in him, and until last game he played two really good games, so that’s how we see Kaberle.”

There you have it. Kaberle is only worth 11:35 of ice time, but he’s worth believing in. The company line just sounds a bit off.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Steven Kampfer, Tomas Kaberle,
Bruins-Lightning Game 5 preview: Five things, stats and players at 1:12 am ET
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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

Statistically, Michael Ryder is enjoying his best stretch of the season. (AP)

- 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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg
After signs of improvement, Tomas Kaberle takes another step backwards in loss 05.21.11 at 7:10 pm ET
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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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tim Thomas, Tomas Kaberle,
Claude Julien still has confidence in a ‘more poised’ Tomas Kaberle 05.20.11 at 8:43 pm ET
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TAMPA — No one in black and gold felt the heat more late in the season and during the first two rounds than Tomas Kaberle. But the Bruins and Claude Julien believe the 33-year-old veteran blueliner has turned a corner – with his confidence.

The Bruins coach knows his players better than anyone and he could see that the defenseman obtained at the trade deadline to bolster a lagging power play was pressing and struggling.

Julien tried everything. He sat him more. He played him more. Finally, last week, Julien took some of the burden off his shoulders by talking to him and letting him know that he and the team still believe he will help the team at critical times and that there was no reason to be putting the struggles of the Bruins power play unit on his shoulders.

It was during Tuesday night’s 6-5 shootout win in Boston that Julien could really start to sense that Kaberle was heeding the message. Ironic that Julien would see Kaberle start to shine in a high-scoring game, of all things. On Thursday, during a more typical 2-0 shutout win, Julien could see the confidence growing in the veteran defenseman as he and Bruins’ D cleared lanes for Tim Thomas to see and stop all 31 shots.

“I don’t know if it was our best but obviously, it was good enough to win a hockey game,” Kaberle said of the Bruins’ team D effort. “And Timmy behind us was playing pretty well and he saw a lot of shots and we spent a lot of time in their end. When we do that we have a good chance to win a hockey game.”

“I think he’s played really well in the last couple of games,” Julien said Friday. “And we had a conversation about maybe taking some pressure off his shoulders about everything that wasn’t going right about the power play. Fingers kept pointing at him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning
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:

Michael Ryder had two goals Tuesday. (AP)

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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