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Tag:Conference Final
Posted on: May 18, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Lightning confident Game 2 was an anomaly

The word “structure” was tossed around so much by Tampa Bay Lighting players you’d have thought you were at a civil engineers convention rather than a locker room.

That’ll happen after an eight-game winning streak gets snapped, largely due to a disjointed second period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals led to a 6-5 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday night. The Lightning allowed five goals on nine shots as goalie Dwayne Roloson was chased from the game.

"We got away from our system and structure as a team the first two periods,” Roloson said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “We came out in the third, played our system a little bit better and our style a little bit better. So for us it was just not sticking to what we had to do win a hockey game.”

The Lightning employ a 1-3-1 system defensively, which forward Steven Stamkos admitted the team didn’t always stick to as the Bruins evened the best-of-7 series 1-1. The series resumes at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday. 

“It didn't look like we were all on the same page,” said Stamkos, who had a goal and two assists in Game 2. “For whatever reason that was the case and that's something we need to address right away. I have full confidence that we're going to put the negative stuff that we did in that game behind us, focus on the positives and be ready for Game 3.”

The Lightning's previous loss was against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round on April 20. 

“It was something that you have confidence and you get used to,” Stamkos said of the streak. “But I think our team did a great job of not being content with it and always wanting more. You have to be a realist. You're not going to go from the second round of the Stanley Cup Finals and win every single game.”

Down 6-3 after two periods, the Lightning grabbed a little momentum back in the third as they cut it to a one-goal game and had several chances at the equalizer. Combine that comeback attempt with a victory in Game 1 that stole home-ice advantage, the Lightning arrived at Florida at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday with a decent sense of accomplishment.

“We've reloaded emotionally throughout the first series and the second series,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “So I don't see this one being any different. As a matter of fact, we should have more experience rebounding, maturing from that. Having said that, (it) doesn't necessarily mean we're going to win games, but we're for sure going to be more aware of the weaknesses we presented in the last game. We don't need to give them any more chances than they deserve.”

Boucher said that the Lightning could soon see defenseman Pavel Kubina --- out since Game 1 of the second-round series with a concussion --- back practicing soon. Boucher said earlier in the week that Kubina had suffered some setbacks in his recovery.

“Obviously we're not expecting him to play in the next game, but things might have progressed,” Boucher said.


-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 18, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 3:48 am
 

Thomas' strong third period vital for Bruins



BOSTON – There’s not too many times a goalie who allowed five goals is lauded in the NHL, especially in a playoff game where low scores are rule not the exception like in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, however, isn’t the typical goalie. He does the unexpected, like when he tossed his body every which way to keep the Bruins on top en route to a 6-5 victory.

There seemed to be reason for concern after the Bruins’ three-goal lead after a dominant second period dwindled, although Thomas did everything he could to keep the puck out --- and even battled after his masked got knocked off. Thomas sustained a cut over his left eye in the scrum as Dominic Moore scored to make it one-goal game with seven minutes left in regulation.

“I haven't seen the replay,” Thomas said of the goal. “I've been told that the puck went off my head. But I didn't even realize it. At that point I was trying to find it, I think.”

Thomas made the next nine saves, including one when he used his head --- this time with his mask on --- to stop a Marc-Andre Bergeron shot after another scramble out front with 3:51 left. Thomas said afterward that he doesn’t look at the clock, not there was much time to do so as it ticked down.

“I can hear it when they call out it's the last minute of the game and that's the only reference point that I have,’ Thomas said. “It shouldn't matter whether there's 30 seconds or three seconds, you gotta have the same type of focus and try just as hard to stop the puck. So, I really wasn't focusing too much on that.”

Thomas, 37, admitted that he would have been a little flustered after a decent-sized lead shrunk to a one-goal margin when he was younger.

“With our big second period there, I knew we had a big lead going into the third period and the plan wasn't to let them get close at all,” Thomas said. “But when it gets 6-4, 6-5, when you're a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus. But I've been through enough situations similar to that. I was just trying to keep my focus and when it got 6-5 to do anything possible I could to keep it from getting 6-6.”

His counterpart, Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson, didn’t make it past the first two periods. Roloson, who allowed six goals on 27 shots, was yanked in favor or Mike Smith.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he’s not concerned about Roloson, who allowed a couple goals that one would call “soft.”

“He's resilient,” Boucher said. “He's somebody that's got tremendous concentration. And you know he always bounces back. So we're not expecting anything less than what he's given us throughout the year. So I'm not worried.”


-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: May 17, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Kubina struggles in recovery from concussion

BOSTON --- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina’s recovery from a concussion has been uneven, coach Guy Boucher said before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday.

“Every day when there seems to be a little progression, it kind of slips back a bit,” Boucher said. “So it's kind of an injury that you never know. You wake up the next day and everything's great or just keeps on going the same way so it's very hard to monitor what's going on with him.”

Kubina was driven hard into the boards on a check from Washington’s Jason Chimera in the first game of the second round on April 29. (Bolts center Simon Gagne suffered a concussion in the same game, but he is back in the lineup.) Chimera received a roughing minor, but was not suspended.

Kubina did not make the trip to Boston with the team.

“Obviously we're missing him,” Boucher said. “He's got size. He's got some offensive abilities on our second power play (line). He made a big difference on it. But right now we've adapted.”

Kubina was Tampa Bay’s second-leading scorer among defenseman in the regular season and is one of three players still on the Bolts from their 2004 Stanley Cup title-winning team; Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are the others.


-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Bergeron out for Game 2 of conference finals

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.

Bergeron, the Bruins' top scorer this postseason, didn't make it out for warm-ups minutes before the Boston attempted to even the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rookie Tyler Seguin, who had a goal in Game 1, will again be turned to in Bergeron's absence.

“As far as Bergeron is concerned, I think if he’s in you’re going to see him in warm-up tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. 
 
Bergeron skated in his second full practice --- and the fourth time overall since his concussion on May 6 --- on Tuesday at TD Garden. He got dressed in a separate room to avoid reporters and Bruins coach Claude Julien again didn’t give guidance on when Bergeron would be back in the lineup.

Teams are not mandated to disclose injuries, outside of a player get hurt during the game. Even then, the league only requires vague descriptions -- hence the upper-body, lower-body designations -- and the likelihood of return.

Julien refused to say whether he’s ruled Bergeron out.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who said he expected Bergeron to play, said whether Bergeron goes or not won’t change his team's approach.

“Every time we play, we are planning for the other team to have their best players on the ice,” Boucher said. “We are not surprised or disappointed.”

Boucher, who had dealt with questions last around about two concussed players (Pavel Kubina and Simon Gagne), said he takes slightly more open tact to injury disclosures.

“When we can say they they’re not playing (due to injury), we’ll say they’re not playing,” Boucher said. “If it’s day-to-day or minute-to-minute, sometimes you have wait until the warm-up.”

Bruins forward Milan Lucic didn’t participate in the morning skate and was seen with a noticeable limp as headed to the pregame meal. Lucic was hit in the right foot by a blast during Monday’s practice.

Lucic, however, took part in warm-ups and is expected to play.

“There’s no issues there at all,” Julien said.

On top of getting their top playoff scorer back, Bergeron would also be a boost both in the faceoff circle and the team’s power play. The Bruins won only 39 percent of their faceoffs and went scoreless on their four power-play opportunities in Game 1.

“It’s a matter of everybody being better,” Julien said of his team’s struggles in the faceoff circle. “Your centermen have to be better (and) you can’t lose it clean. You have to make sure your other guys on the ice have to be ready to jump on those loose pucks. They were quicker than we were.”


-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 16, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Bruins' Bergeron takes part in full practice

BOSTON --- Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron took part in his first full practice since his latest concussion, another indication that may be nearing a return to game action.

Wearing a white jersey, Bergeron was one of the first players on the ice on Monday. He was out there about an hour as the Bruins prepared for Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at TD Garden and left about 10 minutes before the practice concluded as the drills became a little more physical. Bergeron was not made available to reporters.

“It would be nice to have him back as soon as possible,” Bruins forward Nathan Horton said. “You don’t want to rush that. You have to wait until you’re 100 percent. He looked god out there today. I’ll be nice to get him back.”

The Bruins have been mum on Bergeron’s progress since he suffered the third concussion of his NHL career in Game 4 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 6. Boston coach Claude Julien said that Bergeron is still going through the league-mandated concussion protocol and he couldn't offer up any timeline. 

"It's the protocol that we're going through and the process that he has to go through," Julien said. "We don't have anything else more to report because there's nothing else to report in regards to him. 

Asked if he was ruling Bergeron out for Game 2, Julien replied, "no comment."

Bergeron --- the Bruins’ top playoff scorer with 12 points --- returned to the ice on Saturday, a day after he missed Game 1 as the Tampa Bay Lightning earned a 5-2 victory. He also skated on his own Sunday and went through some drills with an assistant coach.

“He looked good,” Boston forward Rich Peverley said. “He looked lie himself. Hopefully he’s back soon.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 15, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Lightning rolling with the Bruins' punches

BOSTON --- Victor Hedman doesn’t want to have to pick himself off the ice again, even if the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman drew another needless Boston Bruins penalty and wasn't injured on the play. 

“You have to be ready for the first punch,” Hedman said after practice at TD Garden on Sunday. “That’s part of the game. You have to be ready when you get into the scrum. You just can’t take the risk. I’ll be more careful.”

Hedman stood up for teammate Dominic Moore in the closing seconds of the Lightning’s 5-2 victory over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday. Moore had just been punched by Bruins’ forward Nathan Horton, which drew the first two-minute rouging minor and a game misconduct. Hedman was then punched and crumpled to the ice when he took a left jab on the chin from Milan Lucic, a blow that also resulted in another roughing penalty and a game misconduct.



“It’s nothing any of the guys in here hasn’t seen before,” Bolts forward Ryan Malone sad. “It’s hockey. We are not worried about if they are trying (to send a message).”

The Bruins, however, lost their composure earlier in the contest. Rookie forward Brad Marchand broke his stick in frustration as he headed to the bench late in the second period, sending the blade sliding down the ice.

“That’s always something that I’ve had to work on and kind of keep in check,” Marchand said. “It’s one of those things where it kind of got the best of me. Those are things I can’t be doing. It brings a bad vibe to the team. I need to learn how to control my emotions a little better and we’ll be all set.”

That outburst didn’t rise to the level of penalty, but Johnny Boychuk’s jab at Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier wasn’t missed by the refs eight minutes into the third period. A roughing minor was called on the play and the Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on the ensuing power play.

“We want to stay disciplined,” Lecavalier said. “We know things like that happen. We were up in the game and we were happy the way things went yesterday. Obviously, we want to stay out of that stuff. . . . After I saw the referee calling the penalty, I stopped. I knew we were getting a power play and we ended up scoring. We try to control our emotions as best as we can. It’s tough.”

Marchand said it’s not like the Lightning were on their best behavior at all times. For instance, he said Lecavalier doesn’t mind to talk a little trash.

“He kind of talks back,” Marchand said. “He’s such a good player for them and he’s one of the guys you want to try to get off his game a bit.”

Boston coach Claude Julien admitted his Bruins unraveled some, but he added that the replays may not have caught the full picture of what went on.

“I think it’s part of frustration sometimes in games an liberties taken,” he said. “Same thing as usual. It’s always easy to look at the punch, just like that penalty Boychuk took. How we end up shorthanded is tough to see when Lecavalier jumps him after a clean hit. Those are things that happen in the game. We can whine and cry about things, but) we take care of our own business.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 15, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 2:09 pm
 

Bergeron skates again, status remains uncertain



BOSTON --- Patrice Bergeron went through some individual drills with a Boston Bruins assistant coach at TD Garden on Sunday as he took the ice for the second time since his latest concussion.

Boston coach Claude Julien, however, reiterated that Bergeron will not be back until all the symptoms from his third reported career concussion -- suffered in Game 4 of the second round on May 6 -- have been resolved. The fact the Bruins, who fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in Game 1, 5-2, on Saturday, are in the conference finals doesn’t change Bergeron’s timetable.

“If he’s not 100 percent, he will never play,” Julien told reporters on Sunday. “Whether it’s regular season or playoffs -- 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 will always come before the game. And it’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it should be.”

Besides Bergeron, Bruins forward Marc Savard has suffered through a series of concussions. The last one, the second in 10 months, occurred in January and the Bruins shut him down for the rest of the season.

The NHL implemented new concussion protocols in March after several high-profile injuries, including on to Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. The new standard requires a multiple-step process where doctors test a player’s cognitive and physical status before he’s allowed to resume activity.

The Bruins have not said where exactly Bergeron  -- the Bruins’ leading scorer of the playoffs  -- is in his comeback from what was called a “minor” concussion, but players took it as a good sign that he’s returned to the ice.

“Honestly, you’re happy for him,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. “You wish him the best, but you can’t get excited or frustrated if he has a setback. He’s out right now. Its kind of the end to it. It’s not really discussed anymore. It’s not like we’re pining for the moment he comes back. We know guys can fill in.”

Rookie Tyler Seguin made his first start of the playoffs in place of Bergeron in Game 1. While he did score a goal and had an assist, Seguin played only nine minutes, 38 seconds. That’s about half the ice time Bergeron usually sees when he’s in the lineup.

Seguin also wasn’t used in the Bruins’ listless power play, which went scoreless for the 10th time in 12 playoffs games.

“I think it’s a situation here where you’ve got to understand this is a 19-year-old that hasn’t played in 11 games,” Julien said. “He comes back in and you want to give him some small chunks to bite on and certainly work his way up. . . . Our power play’s been good the last couple of games, and just because you struggle on the first couple of ones, you (can’t) explode it again and try something new.”





-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 15, 2011 1:05 am
Edited on: May 15, 2011 3:52 am
 

Bruins again find no success on power play

BOSTON – It took all of one game before the Boston Bruins’ power play became an issue again.

The Bruins mustered only four shots and were scoreless in their four power play chances en route to a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at TD Garden on Saturday night. 

“If we do our job properly, I think we are going to have success, but you need the execution,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I think the plan for the power play is good and we know how good they have been on the kill. (The team knows) what we need to do and we had some opportunities.”

Tomas Kaberle rattled a slap shot off the post and a Milan Lucic deflection just went wide, but for the most part chances were few and far between as the Bruins struggled on the extra man. The Bruins went scoreless in their first 30 power-play chances of the playoffs before Zdeno Chara broke through on a 5-on-3 opportunity in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Lucic added another power -play goal in Game 4 last round.

Overall, the Bruins are 2-for-41 on the power play. That works out to 4.9 percent, which is a good margin of error for a national political poll but horrid when it comes to a power play.

“There was lots going on and we got maybe a little frustrated,” Bruins forward David Krejci said. “You know, we talked about it we have to stick with it and I think we have to get the power play in the third period. It’s too bad we didn’t score. That’s the story of our playoff this year.”

The fact that the Bruins are playing against the best penalty kill of any playoff team that made it out of the first round doesn’t help either. Tampa Bay has killed off 94.8 percent of the power plays its faced.

“I think we’ve had a good penalty kill all year long, top 5 for most of the year,” Bolts coach Guy Boucher said. “I think we’re following that up in the playoffs. We had a really good penalty kill in the first series and the second series. We’ve got to adjust to the other team and at the same time stay confident in what we are doing.”

-- A.J. Perez
 
 
 
 
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