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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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