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Posted On Saturday, 05.28.2011 / 1:54 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Entire Game 7 played at even strength

BOSTON -- Tampa Bay's special teams have been an advantage for the Lightning throughout the regular season and into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, there was no special teams advantage to be had. There were no penalties called on either team, so the entire game was played at even strength.

"Obviously our special teams are phenomenal and have been phenomenal all playoffs, but it was just the type of game we played," goalie Dwayne Roloson said. "We play a pretty disciplined style of game and so do they. Give the refs credit -- there wasn't anything out there to call. Guys played hard, and did everything they had to do to get in the game, whether it was block shots or hits or whatever was needed."

Added Boston defenseman Andrew Ference: "The refs let us play. There were penalties that could have been called on either side. But, both teams did have great discipline and played a great hockey game. The refs let us play and I think it was even up and I don't think either team got gypped in that category."

If Ference is correct in saying there were calls that could have been made, then it probably did help the Bruins. Tampa Bay had the sixth-best power play in the League during the regular season and the second-best percentage of any team that reached the second round.

Tampa Bay scored three power-play goals in a span of less than 13 minutes in Game 6 against Boston. The Lightning never found out it if there was any momentum to be carried over with the extra man.

"The power play has been a strength of ours definitely," Tampa Bay Guy Boucher said. You know you are hoping you get one, but come the third period I wasn't hoping for a power play. Two teams who are very disciplined -- I think we respected each other's strengths and I think this was the type of game that [could have] 0-0 penalties. I can't think of any moment I felt there should have been a power play on either side -- that's credit to both teams' discipline and attention to details."

Conversely, the Lightning erased 92.3 percent of opposing teams' extra-man opportunities during this postseason while the Bruins are 5-for-61 with the man advantage. Even if there was a penalty or two called on the Lightning, Tampa Bay may have been to cobble together some momentum by keeping Boston off the scoreboard with the extra man.

Instead, this game played out at even strength. Boston led the NHL in goal ratio at even strength in the regular season and is doing so again during the playoffs.

"We didn't mind that at all," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think what I liked about the refereeing tonight, they let the two teams decide the outcome. And I think both teams are very disciplined tonight. Even though, you know, we could question that call, it didn't really matter at that point. It was about staying focused and doing the right thing here. I thought for what this game meant, I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well. I'm not saying that because we won, I'm saying that because even as it was 0-0, I liked the way they were handling it."
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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Recchi looking for a strong Game 7

Mark Recchi has had an Eastern Conference Finals to forget.

The 42-year-old winger does not have a point in the first six games of this series. He is also a minus-5. He's not even getting many chances. He has just six shots in the series, but three of them came in Game 2. He has just two shots in the past four games.

His goal drought actually stretches back nine games, to Game 1 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. But he did deliver in other areas in those first two rounds. In fact, in 17 games, he has 2 goals, 5 assists and a plus-4 rating.

Recchi has been around enough to understand that his fortunes could again change on a dime in this Game 7. And, facing what could be his final game in the NHL, the veteran forward plans to bring his best effort in Friday's do-or-die game.

"I think the first game (against Tampa Bay) I wasn't good," Recchi said. "I think after that I've been OK. I haven't been good, I haven't been bad. 

"You know what? That's all washed away in one game now tonight. You lay it out on the line and go out and have fun with this and get back to the Stanley Cup Final. We've been together all year. And, obviously, you would like to have an impact. But at the same time, teammates, that's why we're here for each other."

Recchi has won two Stanley Cup titles in his career and he knows they are products of 20 players -- or more -- contributing to the cause. So, while he is not happy with his play in the round, he knows he has done his part to deliver his team to the point where it needs just one win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 21 years.

"I think earlier in the playoffs our line was terrific and carried a lot of the burden of the team," Recchi said. "Other guys have stepped up and been terrific now. Now it's one game and let's all do it together. That's the important thing is we all have one opportunity to get to the Stanley Cup Final and we'll do it together."
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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Boucher: Bergenheim 'doubtful' for Game 7

BOSTON -- Sean Bergenheim skated for about 15 minutes Friday morning at TD Garden, but Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher deemed his return from an undisclosed injury "doubtful" for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"I wouldn't say optimistic for now. I'd say he's better," Boucher said. "He might try the warm-up. We'll see. I still have to talk to my therapist and the doctors. There's been some improvement -- to what extent we'll have to wait and see, but [he's] doubtful."

Bergenheim left Game 5 of this series late in the first period with an injury and did not return. He skated without his full set of equipment the morning of Game 6 but did not participate in the pre-game warm-up and did not play.

The Finnish forward has 9 goals, good for third in the League during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He had the lone goal in Game 7 against Pittsburgh in a 1-0 victory against the Penguins in the opening round.

"It would be great," Steven Stamkos said of a potential return for Bergenheim. "He's scored a lot of big goals. It was tough without last game, but we once again proved without a great player we can step up. We've done it all year."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 6:53 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bergenheim still being evaluated for Game 7

BOSTON -- Sean Bergenheim has been a valuable source of offense in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Tampa Bay Lightning may be without him again in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said Thursday that Bergenheim, who left Game 5 early and did not dress for Game 6 because of an undisclosed injury, is still being evaluated.

"He's seeing our doctors again today, and he's going to have another evaluation tonight and tomorrow morning," Boucher said after the Lightning’s arrival in Boston. "We'll see, but right now it doesn't necessarily look like something positive for us."

Boucher had said the day before Game 6 that he might "go to church" to help get a better diagnosis on Bergenheim, but the Finnish forward was not in the lineup against the Boston Bruins. Bergenheim has been a scoring sensation this spring, scoring 9 goals while playing on the team’s third line.

Teddy Purcell has been the guy who filled some of Bergenheim’s scoring in this series. He leads the Lightning in this series with five goals, including a pair in two of the past three games.

Boucher also said defenseman Pavel Kubina, out since Game 1 of the second round after a hit behind the net by Washington’s Jason Chimera, will not be available. Forward Dana Tyrell replaced Bergenheim in Game 6 as Boucher went with 12 forwards, but Boucher could also turn to Randy Jones if he wants to deploy seven defensemen.
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Lightning need Roloson to return with flourish

Dwayne Roloson has built a reputation as a go-to goaltender when his team faces elimination. The Tampa Bay Lighting will need him to continue his excellence in those situations or their surprising postseason run will be over.

"Our thoughts are we have to go shift-by-shift," Roloson said Wednesday morning before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. "Sorry if it is cliche-ish, but realistically it is what we have to do. Start with the first one and try to snowball them over and win every shift. We have to go shift-by-shift and try to win a hockey game."

Roloson had the day off for Game 5. Coach Guy Boucher went with backup Mike Smith, who stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced in a 3-1 loss. Boucher said he told Roloson while the team was still in Boston that he would definitely be back in net for Game 6, and that was his plan regardless of the Game 5 outcome.

The 41-year-old Roloson last took a game off in the final contest of the regular season, when the Lightning eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 victory.

"I don't think any goalie has played 82 games in a row since they changed the amount of games that we play," Roloson said. "You do it during the regular season, and there is no difference during the playoffs. I think everybody feels rested when they get a day off, so you take it when you can get it."

Roloson has allowed 13 goals in this series while being pulled twice and not playing one contest. That’s the same number he gave up in seven games against Pittsburgh in the opening round.

His .925 save percentage is still fourth among No. 1 goaltenders in this postseason, but his 2.51 goals-against average has dropped to eighth. The Lightning will likely need a performance like the ones he had in the three elimination games against Pittsburgh -- he turned aside 94 of 98 shots in the final three contests of that series, including all 36 he faced in Game 7.

"He's been a horse for us in these playoffs," Steven Stamkos said. "He's battled. He's one of the best competitors on this team. He's going to be ready and willing to prove he's a big reason why we got here as a team. If anything, he's had an extra day's rest and he's ready for tonight."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.22.2011 / 4:24 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Boucher not saying if Roloson will start

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Dwayne Roloson is "getting ready for tomorrow" but has yet to actually say the 41-year-old goaltender will be in the net for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Roloson has been pulled in two of the past three games for the Lightning, including after yielding 3 goals on 9 shots Saturday afternoon. Mike Smith made 21 saves to help the team comeback from the 3-0 hole to win 5-3.

Boucher has been asked -- and then pressed with a follow-up question -- after the game Saturday and again at TD Garden on Sunday without officially saying which goaltender he will go with. His comments certainly make it seem like it will Roloson, but they could also be interpreted as a coach leaving it open.

"I don't feel like I've got a situation," Boucher said. "I've got a goaltender that has taken us here and played really well and he's getting ready ... and I've got a goaltender that came in relief and he's done really well. Every time we've asked [Smith] to come in he's played well. We've got a goaltender that's taken us here that knows how to win and knows how to bounce back. I don't feel it is a situation."

When asked, "so it is Roloson?" Boucher responded, "Roloson is getting ready for tomorrow."

Again, it seems likely that Roloson will start, but Boucher has had ample opportunity to say, 'Yes, Roloson is starting,' and has chose not to do so.

INJURY UPDATE: Boucher said Steve Downie is "day-to-day and we'll see tomorrow" about his availability for Game 5. Downie left Game 4 after being hit by Boston's Nathan Horton and did not play in the third period.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:35 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Thomas confident that Bruins will prevail

Boston goalie Tim Thomas certainly has a short memory.

Just minutes after giving up four straight goals to allow Tampa Bay to become just the third team in these playoffs to erase a three-goal deficit and win (the final goal of the 5-3 victory in Game 4 was scored into an empty net), Thomas was able to crack a few smiles as he started the process of looking ahead to Game 5.

Thomas, who finished with 33 saves Saturday, also flashed some of that legendary self-belief that helped him make the journey from potential career journeyman to perennial Vezina Trophy finalist.

Asked if he knew how this series would turn out after Tampa Bay became just the fourth team in Bruins' playoff history to beat Boston after the B's had taken a three-goal lead in a game, Thomas didn't even hesitate.

"Yeah, we are going to win," Thomas said. "I don't how it's going to be at any one time or one game. What's important is we come back in Game 5 and win that game."

If the Bruins can do that after Saturday's heartbreak, Thomas will play a big role. At times Saturday, he was fighting the puck. He did not get much help in the second period, but he also did not exude the same type of confidence he had in Thursday's Game 3, a 31-save shutout against the high-powered Lightning.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:32 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Who's No. 1?

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has a big decision to make sometime in the next two days.

Boucher has pulled starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson twice in the past three games, and Mike Smith has excelled in relief both times. Smith stopped all 21 shots he faced in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon, helping the Lightning erase a three-goal lead for the Boston Bruins in a 5-3 victory to even the series.
After the game, Boucher was coy when pressed about who would be in goal Monday night in Boston.

"We have our No. 1 goaltender. He's taken us to this place right now and that's the reason why we're here," Boucher said. [Smith] has been terrific. He's had a [save percentage] of over .940 since Dec. 15. And the fact that [Roloson] came in certainly helped him with pressure and poise and all that. And whenever he was asked to play since Roloson has been there, he's been terrific. I mean, he's just been terrific.

"So whenever it's time for him to help the team and try to change the momentum around, I don't hesitate. It was the same in Boston. We put him in. He didn't get scored against in the third period. We were trying to come back.  He played well again. So I don't remember the last bad game he's played. So obviously, when there's an opportunity to help the team and try and turn things around, we're not afraid to use him. He did a good job today."

Obviously Boucher didn't answer the question of who he would start in Game 5, so he was asked to clarify.

"We just finished this game now," Boucher said. "We're happy we just beat a terrific team and we're just happy that we were a lot harder to play against today. And [Smith] was part of it and Roloson is -- it doesn't change the status."

So Boucher called Roloson his No. 1 goaltender, but didn't officially say he will start Monday night at TD Garden. Smith is 29-for-29 in his two relief appearances, but Roloson was the best goaltender (statistically) in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs before the past three games.

He also played pretty well in Game 3, between the two benchings.

"That's up to the coaching staff," Roloson said when asked if he'd be the starter for Game 5. "It's their decision and whatever happens, happens. It's all about the team winning and having success."
Smith sounded like someone who expects to be wearing a baseball cap instead of a mask on Monday night at the TD Garden.

"I don't expect to [play] -- I'll be ready to. [Roloson] has carried us through the playoffs this far and I don't expect anything less than for him to come back and have a great game. I'll be ready to go, but I'm sure [Roloson] will want to get back in there and be ready to go as well."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bad day for Bruins' Krejci

On an afternoon filled with difficult performances, perhaps nobody suffered more for the Bruins in Saturday's 5-3 loss than first-line center David Krejci.

Absolutely nothing went right for Krejci in Game 4.

He was on the ice for Tampa Bay's final three goals of the game, including the game-winner by Simon Gagne just 6:54 into the third period. His poor effort at a poke check as Sean Bergenheim came out of the corner after gobbling up a Tomas Kaberle turnover behind the Boston net was a huge part of Bergenheim's tying goal as well.

Krejci didn't manage a shot in the entire game and his wingers – Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton -- each had just one.

Perhaps, most tellingly, Krejci was just 3-for-12 in the faceoff circle, the poster boy for Boston's struggles at the dot. The B's won just 40 percent of Saturday's 65 draws.

Krejci's struggles did not go unnoticed by his coach.

"David had a tough night in the faceoff circle, and I think that kind of identified the type of game he had tonight," Claude Julien said. "It wasn't the type of game we're used to seeing David play."

But Julien was also quick to admit that quite a few more of his players struggled mightily in the final two periods.

"I didn't feel our players -- a lot of our players did not play their best game tonight," Julien said. "We are a team that when we're at our best, we win battles, and we win races and we're strong on the puck.

And from the second period on, I don't think we spent that much time in our own end compared to what we're used to."

-- Shawn P. Roarke
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien: Krejci fine despite not practicing

When Boston center David Krejci was walloped with a clean open-ice hit by Marc-Andre Bergeron in the dying minutes of the first period, there was concern that he may have suffered a head injury, fears that were exacerbated by the fact that Krejci took a while to get up from his knees and did not play on the ensuing power play.

When Krejci played the final two periods of the game and pronounced himself fit afterward, those fears subsided.

Well, they gained life again Friday afternoon when Krejci was one of several Boston players missing from the team’s optional practice.

No need to worry, though, said Boston coach Claude Julien.

"David is fine," Julien said Friday. "We had a bunch of guys stay off today. It's more of an optional and short skate. So there's no issues with David. He's playing tomorrow with no issues at all."

Game 4 is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. here at St. Pete Times Forum. 
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien fires back

It appears that Boston coach Claude Julien has had enough of Guy Boucher's commentary on the Bruins.

The Lightning coach has spent the better part of two weeks now pumping up the Bruins in his public comments.

Already, Boucher has said he expects goalie Tim Thomas to perform miracles and has suggested that injured center Patrice Bergeron would play in each of the first two games of this series. Bergeron, out with a concussion for almost two weeks, may play in Game 3.

Thursday morning, Boucher spent part of his presser talking about the speed possessed by Boston rookie Tyler Seguin, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in the first two games of this series.

"I think the players and everybody underestimated his speed," Boucher said Thursday morning. "That's the main thing. His speed is obviously a weapon for him and for his team. And being a young guy, having success right away certainly takes a lot of nervousness away. For us, we know that he's going to be on the ice. We have to be able to keep on him."

Julien, speaking about an hour later, was apprised of Boucher's comments and decided he had just about enough of the Lightning coach trying to build the Bruins into world-beaters, the same tactic Boucher so successfully employed in the second-round sweep of top-seeded Washington.

"Well, Tampa has been very good at complimenting our team," Julien said, an edge seemingly in his voice. "They do a really good job of that. I think Tampa has got some pretty good speed themselves, (Marty) St. Louis and those kind of guys, Stamkos. They've got the same kind of players.

"So my answer to that would be I think they're pretty well served on their side. I don't think they're worried so much about Tyler more than they want to flatter him, and we know that there are the mind games that teams play, and right now we're just focusing on what we have to do here. And, if anything, I would be more tempted to compliment my own players such as St. Louis and those guys that are just as good as Seguin when it comes to speed."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 12:53 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Lightning know Roloson will shake off loss

While the Tampa Bay Lightning have to play better defensively in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they are not worried about goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

The 41-year-old goalie allowed six goals on 27 shots against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 before being replaced by Mike Smith for the third period. He yielded five of those goals on just nine shots in the second period.

"He was pulled but it wasn't because of his poor play," captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "He still made some big saves. The goals we gave them -- it is tough for a goalie. It is not just the first shot, it was the rebounds. They were beating us to pucks. He'll be back strong tonight -- we know that."

Roloson has been resilient for the Lightning since arriving in January via a trade from the New York Islanders. He's allowed five or more goals four times since the trade, and he's 4-0-0 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average in his next start after those games.

The cliche in this sport is goalies need to have short memories. Roloson's teammates and coaches are confident in his.

"He's built some mental tools over the years that some young guys don't have," said Guy Boucher said. "For him it is all about a 12-hour thing. Beyond 12 hours -- you can't even talk to him about it because it doesn't exist. That's a great mental tool that takes a long time and takes a mature man to do that. That's where he is right now."

Added Roloson: "It is just being about to forget about it. You dwell on things and it affects your play, so it's just being able to forget about it and focus on what you've got to do to be ready to go the next night."

Injury update:
Forward Dana Tyrell skated this morning without a red no-contact jersey on and Boucher confirmed is available to play. Whether or not he actually does remains to be seen.

Tyrell had 6 goals and 15 points for the Lightning during the regular season but has been out since Game 5 of the first round because of a lower-body injury. Boucher said the decision of whether or not Tyrell will rejoin the lineup has yet to be made.

Defenseman Pavel Kubina did not participate in the morning skate. Boucher said there was chance Kubina could have practiced Wednesday but the team didn’t have one, but Thursday they decided to not have him skate as he attempts to return from a concussion.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 8:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Savard in Boston for Game 2

The Bruins received a welcome visitor before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Injured center Marc Savard, sidelined since suffering a concussion in January, made the trip down to Boston for Game 2, according to the Bruins.

Savard suffered his season-ending concussion – the latest in a series of serious concussions – in Denver in a game against the Avalanche on Jan. 25. He returned home to Ontario and has not been around the Bruins since.

Well, that all changed Tuesday night as Boston prepared for Game 2, hoping to even this series at one game apiece before it heads to Tampa Bay for Thursday's Game 3.

Throughout the week, Boston coach Claude Julien has said Savard is welcome to visit any time he feels willing and able.

"He's part of our hockey club and he's always welcomed here," Julien said earlier this week. "He wants to come down and he's trying to get over a concussion that's really set him back. We've given him that space and being around family is a good thing to help yourself through that. We'll be happy to see him."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 12:31 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Still no timetable for Kubina's return

Pavel Kubina does not appear to be any closer to returning to the Tampa Bay lineup as he attempts to recover from a concussion.

Kubina did not travel with the Lightning to Boston and coach Guy Boucher confirmed Tuesday morning that he hasn't joined the club during its stay here. He hasn't played since being hit behind the net by Washington's Jason Chimera in Game 1 of the second round.

"Yeah, he's not with us, not even here, so the update is not very good," Boucher said. "Every day when there seems to be a little progression it seems to slip back a bit. It is the kind of injury where you never know. You wake up one day and it is great or it just keeps going on the same way. It is very hard to monitor what's going on with him."

Kubina had 4 goals and 23 points for the Lightning this season after signing as a free agent in the offseason. He had 2 goals and an assist in the first round against Pittsburgh, including a pair of power-play goals.

"Obviously we're missing him," Boucher said. "He's got size and some offensive abilities. Our second power play -- he made a big difference on it, but right now we've adapted. (Marc-Andre) Bergeron has kind of taken the lead on that power play with (Teddy) Purcell. We've had to adapt because he was doing very well for us."

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Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 4:06 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bolts' third line continues to impress

Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie have combined for 12 goals and 30 points in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They haven't been just the most productive third line in this postseason -- they're one of the top lines period. The Sedin twins and Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver's top line, also have combined for 12 goals and 30 points -- though they've had two more games to do so.

San Jose's most-frequent trio at even strength has been Ryan Clowe, Logan Couture and Dany Heatley. They have combined for 13 goals and 33 points, but again in two more games than Tampa Bay has played.

One of Boston's top two lines -- Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi -- has combined for 9 goals and 30 points. The other, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has 12 goals and 25 points.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher mixes and matches with his lines so much that none of them have stayed together for as much ice time as the top lines from the other three semifinalists, but he's found a dynamic trio in Moore, Bergenheim and Downie.

So the question moving forward is this -- do the Lightning now expect this consistent offensive production from what is a supposed to be a defense-first unit?

"You have to watch out because you don't want to expect it," Boucher said. "Their role is always hustling and great defensive play. I did talk to them about it already and not just today but in previous days. I think it is important for players to understand that you need to play within our strengths as a team and as individuals too. If you lose your strengths, eventually whatever else you are doing well is going to fade away."

Added Moore: "I don't think it is a case where we are worried about that. We've played our game from the first game and we'll continue to play our game -- whether it is producing point-wise or not. I think we make contributions regardless."

Bergeheim leads all NHL players in this postseason with 8 goals. There are only seven players with more points than Downie's 12 and only one with a better plus-minus rating than his plus-9.

Then there is Moore, who Boucher called "the ghost" on that line because he does a lot of the work and the other two have ended up getting a lot of the credit. Part of the reason why they have become such a dangerous trio is they haven't tried to change the way they play despite the explosion of offensive success.
 
"It is important for the Bergenheims and the Moores and Downies to understand that hustling, not being a liability defensively, being first on pucks, the way they battle and bulldoze around the net is key to our team -- not just because they score goals but because they inspire the rest of the team also," Boucher said. "They could not score for the next four games and still do their jobs, just like [Steven] Stamkos last game blocking some shots. He didn't get a goal, but he filled his role as a guy who's trying to win. I think that's more important."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 5:16 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Despite success, Seguin sees no Game 1 PP time

Sunday, Claude Julien reaffirmed that rookie Tyler Seguin was one of the best players on the ice for Boston in Saturday's Game 1 loss.

Seguin had a goal and an assist in the 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and displayed his world-class skills on the first-period goal. He used an absolutely sick move to beat Tampa defenseman Mike Lundin and then used a quick shot to beat Dwayne Roloson to the far post.

Sounds like just the type of skill set that could help out a Boston power play that finished 0-for-4 in Game 1 and is now just 2-for-41 in the postseason, doesn't it?

Well, Julien said he had no real inclination Saturday night to include Seguin on either man-advantage unit, not even after Boston failed to gain the offensive zone on the first power-play opportunity of the night.
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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 3:19 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien admits Kaberle feeling pressure to perform

Sunday, Claude Julien admitted what has been painfully obvious to most observers of the Bruins this postseason: Defenseman Tomas Kaberle is struggling.

Kaberle, obtained from Toronto near this year's trade deadline to help Boston with its power play and its transition game, has done precious little of either this postseason.

Boston's power play is historically bad, going just 2-for-41 in the first dozen games of this postseason. Kaberle has been a huge part of that downfall, making some questionable decisions at the point and often refusing to shoot when the opportunity presents itself. Saturday night, in the game 1 loss, he did take two shots from the point on the power play and each was well wide.

Earlier in the game, Kaberle made an egregious turnover behind his own net which led to Teddy Purcell's goal, the last in a game-changing run of three goals in 85 seconds by the Lightning.

After the game, Kaberle insisted he was not gripping his stick extra hard or feeling the pressure of being expected to perform better. But, on Sunday, Julien suggested otherwise about the veteran defenseman.

"There is no doubt he is pressing a little bit," Julien said. "I would say that because he knows what is expected of him and he knows what is being said about him; he knows all that stuff. At one point, you hope that he is capable of focusing on just doing the job, and we have confidence in him and we are going to work with him for him to get better, because we are going to need him to play at his best if we plan on moving on here and winning some hockey games."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 3:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Marchand vows to avoid selfish behavior in future

The Boston Bruins were clearly frustrated by Tampa Bay's ability to shackle their offense Saturday in the 5-2 loss in game 1 of the eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.

Nobody, however, wore his anger more openly than the always combustible Brad Marchand.

In the second period, Marchand exploded in rage for everyone to see. In the midst of a frustrating evening that would see him finish with no shots and a minus-2 rating, Marchand shattered his stick, taking to healthy whacks to make the stick finally crack.

"It wasn't good enough the first time I did it, so I had to do it again," he said of his stick-swinging exploits. "I had a lot of frustration built up. I wanted to be a factor out there and it wasn't happen and it just got to me."

That, however, can't happen at this stage of the playoffs. You can't give another team the satisfaction of seeing frustration take hold. It is a sight that will merely embolden the opponent to do more of the same, knowing that it has tangible results.

According to coach Claude Julien, the outburst has already been addressed.

"That's something we don't like to see and we don't want to see; but he is a first-year player, he is a rookie and he is certainly learning," Julien said. He is going to be the first one to tell you that he is learning as he goes along here. And you can't allow yourself to get frustrated; you have to battle through things. We just showed a little bit of frustration and I'm sure you are not going to see that again.

Julien was not the only one delivering that message. Many of Boston's vets were doing the same, talking to some of the younger Bruins during and after the game.

"It's pretty early to be frustrated," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said Sunday. "It's just wasted energy. It's addressed right away by whoever is sitting beside them, definitely in the lockerroom afterwards. It's not about showing emotion. You can have emotion, have fire and be mad about things; but in the playoffs – especially this far in – you have to know how to direct your energy and use it wisely. If you are yelling at Refs or slapping things around, you're not using your resources wisely."

Marchand, for one says he got the message loud and clear.

"I was a little frustrated there, and I reacted in a way that I shouldn't have," Marchand said Sunday "It was selfish and it brought a lot of negative energy to the team at the wrong point. (Claude) recognized that. He's upset about that because he knows I'm better than that. He knows that I can control my emotions better than that. I can't be getting off my game. I need to be getting teams off their games."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 1:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bolts opponents repeating history

"We didn't score goals, but I think we had chances. You can see when we got the puck deep and finished our check, we created some chances."

"We had good energy. Then we made a couple bad plays. Then you're playing catch-up to a team that's very good defensively and very frustrating to the offensive team."

"I don't think they had better chances or that they played better than us. I think we were all over them. Just some bad breaks, you know."

"I thought that we had a good start and created some chances and some pressure. But then we had some breakdowns, and that's when they got some momentum."

Those four quotes are offered here without attribution for a reason. All four came after Game 1 losses against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Two were by members of the Washington Capitals. Two were by members of the Boston Bruins. Not sure which quotes are from which team? That's the point.

To end the suspense, the first quote is from Alex Ovechkin and the second from Bruce Boudreau. The final two are from David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, respectively.

The point of this exercise is to show how similar the reactions were to a Game 1 home loss by guys from each team, and obviously to point out that the Bruins need to adjust and/or play better in order to avoid the same fate as the Capitals.

If it weren't for a few brilliant saves by Tim Thomas, Game 1 on Saturday night at TD Garden could have been even worse than the final 5-2 score line indicated. Thomas gave up four goals -- and also had to make the four or five best saves of the game to keep the Bruins in it when the outcome was still in doubt.

The Bruins thought they had a lot of good chances, but they really didn't. Boston had 33 shots on net in Game 1 -- 12 of them came from 50 feet or beyond and 23 from more than 40 feet away, according to the official play-by-play.

Those perimeter shots are OK if there is traffic in front of the goaltender or rebound chances created. Boston had three shots on net in a seven-second span in the second period, including one that was definitely a rebound attempt from Mark Recchi. Other than that one sequence, Tampa Bay goaltender didn't face two shots in a span of shorter than 12 seconds -- and the second shot in that sequence was from 43 feet away.

Now the Bruins have two days to regroup and figure out a better way to attack the Lightning. They probably need to learn from their own mistakes and from the shortcomings of the Capitals if they want to not suffer the same outcome.
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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 12:53 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bruins don't rattle Lightning in Game 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning were minutes away from finishing off an emphatic Game 1 victory against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden when the home team tried to build some momentum for Game 2 with some physical play.

If the plan was rattle the Lightning with some rough stuff, it didn't appear to work. Boston took three penalties in the final eight minutes, all roughing minors, but the Lightning did not retaliate on any of them.

"That's the way it goes," Dominic Moore said. "Both teams are competing for every square inch of the ice out there, and there are no surprises at any point in the game. They are competing and that's what you have to try to do. We're just going to have to maintain our focus as well."

Boston was expected to have the physical edge in this series, but the Bruins weren't able to apply a lot of physical pressure after a couple of big hits early in this contest. Johnny Boychuk landed a big check on Simon Gagne in open ice, but Vincent Lecavalier then went over to the Bruins defenseman, who punched him and drew a penalty.

Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on the ensuing power play to give Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead and end any doubt in the outcome of this contest.

"We're focused on what we're doing," Bergeron said. "Stuff happens. We don't care about that."

Top-line wings Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton combined for seven shots on goal but no points for the Bruins, but both collected 12 minutes in penalties in the final minute. Both were assessed roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts for their part in a scrum with 37 seconds left.

"We only focus on our emotions, not the other team's emotions," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "We were really calm and we stayed calm."



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Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 12:09 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Boston's Bergeron back on the ice

Boston forward Patrice Bergeron, sidelined for the past eight days with a concussion, was on the ice on his own Saturday morning at TD Garden in what coach Claude Julien described as a light skate.

Bergeron is not expected back soon -- he will almost assuredly miss both Saturday night's Game 1 and Tuesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay here at the Garden. Bergeron suffered the concussion, the third of his career, during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Flyers.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

No change in Bergeron's status

It's been a full week since Patrice Bergeron suffered his concussion, on a hit from Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in Game 4 of the last round.

However, there remains no timetable for his return, according to Boston coach Claude Julien, who addressed Bergeron's condition after Friday's practice, the final one before Boston begins the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay, with Game 1 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
 
"I think he's improving, he really is improving," Julien said. "We're optimistic about him. As Peter (Chiarelli, GM) said, we knew he was going to miss the start of the series, and how much he is going to miss I can't tell you right now. But he is on the right track and we're staying positive.

"Again, I say that every day. I'm not going to say much more because when it comes to concussions, you have good news and you have setbacks and you have all kinds of things that can happen. I'm not going to stand here and change my tune every day except to tell you that right now that's going in the right direction."

Bergeron has not been back on the ice since the hit in Game 4 of the Philadelphia series. Once he is cleared to practice, it likely will take several days before he is allowed to play in a game.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.12.2011 / 2:21 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

EA SPORTS picks Canucks-Bruins in Final

That mythical perfect March Madness bracket is virtually impossible to achieve, and yet for some reason most of us fill one out anyway. The Stanley Cup Playoffs may not have 68 teams in them with a one-and-done system, but predicting each series in the spring is still highly fickle business.

Even for a computer.

It didn't look like the folks at EA SPORTS were going to have that problem for a while, but eventually the dream had to end. Using their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, the video game makers followed up their 8-for-8 first round by nearly tabbing another perfect set, and had Detroit pulled off the incredible Thursday night, they would have had just that. But San Jose's gutsy performance in Game 7 threw a wrench in the mix and gave EA SPORTS its first miss of the postseason.

Fortunately, however, this is no suicide pool, and Simulation Engine is getting a mulligan and a clean slate for the conference finals, particularly after EA SPORTS nearly made good on its prediction of three lower seeds advancing through the second round.

The third round doesn't provide the same kind of daring prognostication, but since EA SPORTS has gone 11-1 so far, questioning the simulation seems foolish, and if EA SPORTS has its druthers, Vancouver and Boston will be meeting to determine who will lift the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Canucks may be facing a San Jose team with an enormous emotional lift after holding off a potentially historic comeback, but according to the computers, Vancouver will overcome a home loss to the Sharks in Game 1 with two straight overtime victories and an eventual Western Conference title in six games.

According to EA SPORTS, the East will be decided in similar fashion, and be a closer series than some might expect, not because of its length but because of its scores. While the Bruins are pegged to grab the Prince of Wales Trophy in six games, two of their wins are slated to come in overtime, with Tampa Bay flashing some sudden-death heroics of its own to stay alive with an overtime win in Game 5 at TD Garden.

EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition fans are invited to make their own predictions in the EA SPORTS NHL 2011 Playoff Bracket Contest at www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Participating fans can accrue points for correct predictions with the ultimate prize at the end of Stanley Cup Final of two tickets to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on the line.

Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Start dates for the Stanley Cup Final voting will be announced at the end of the Conference Finals.

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Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp