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Bruins v Lightning - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Adam Hall finds his role with Lightning

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Adam Hall was a teenager, he was among the very best goal-scorers his country had to offer in his age group.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native continued to be a dynamic scorer into his early 20s and reached the NHL with almost no time needed in the minor leagues. But as often happens, not every kid who lights it up in the junior and college ranks becomes an elite offensive producer at the game's highest level.

Now 30, Hall has made a transition not every player can make -- from expected scorer to effective role player. He's been exactly that for the Tampa Bay Lightning during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Six questions facing Bruins, Lightning in Game 4

Shawn P. Roarke and Corey Masisak - Staff Writers

TAMPA -- Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals raised almost as many questions as it answered.

Boston won Thursday's game, 2-0, with a dominating effort that shows the Bruins are almost impossible to beat when they score first. It also reaffirmed that their patient -- sometimes plodding -- game is ideally suited to playing on the road.

We also learned that the return of Patrice Bergeron, out almost two weeks with a concussion, is an incredible calming influence on these Bruins. His two-way play really helped Boston slow down what had been a track meet in the first two games and make sure it was played at a more favorable pace for the Bruins.

On the Tampa Bay side, we learned that they can play a more structured game in their own zone. They were far more committed to their structure in Game 3 and limited Boston to far fewer chances than in the 6-5 loss in game 2. This time, however, Boston was far more opportunistic.

Lucic saw the real Lucic in Game 3 vs. Lightning

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

TAMPA -- For a time this postseason, Milan Lucic did not recognize the Boston Bruin wearing his No. 17 sweater during film sessions.

What he saw was a player that wasn't scoring, wasn't cycling, wasn't winning puck battles, and he was confused, to say the least. How could that be the game of someone that scored 30 goals in the regular season and was earning a reputation as one of the best young power forwards in the game?

"I don't know what happened," Lucic said Thursday after the Bruins' 2-0 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals series. "It was almost like I went from one player to someone I didn't want to be."

Lightning's offense comes up dry in Game 3

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have scored the most goals per game in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and beat Vezina Trophy finalist Tim Thomas nine times in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

But most of the things they were doing to create those goals went missing Thursday night as Thomas stopped all 31 shots he faced in Boston's 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Lightning showed little of the offensive zip that had characterized their play in the first two games at Boston. 

Stamkos says Bolts didn't do little things

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Like the rest of his Tampa Bay teammates, center Steven Stamkos was left to ponder why the Lightning were unable to solve Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins’ defense Thursday night in a 2-0 loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals

Stamkos had four of Tampa Bay’s 31 shots on goal, but few of those saves by Thomas had to be great ones. After scoring 10 goals in the first two games of this series, the Lightning were shut out for the first time since Game 1 of the opening round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here’s what Stamkos had to say after the contest.

Bergeron fully practices, possible for Game 3

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

TAMPA -- Bruins coach Claude Julien did not say whether Patrice Bergeron will play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals during his comments after the morning skate at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday, but it's clear Boston's No. 2 center is closer to entering this series.

"That will probably be a decision made today, if not tomorrow as he inches closer," Julien said. "He's feeling pretty good. It's not totally up to the coach to make the final decision; a lot of other things have to happen.

"I can only give you the same answer I gave you the other day; if he is in the warm-up he's ready to go. I'm sure there will be some discussions on that as we move forward today. Just goes to show you that he is inching closer."

Key questions for Bruins, Lightning in Game 3

Shawn P. Roarke and Corey Masisak - Staff Writers

Tampa Bay stole home-ice advantage in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Boston now is in position to take it back after a wild win in Game 2.

Both teams will look to be better defensively in Game 3 Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum (8 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN, RDS) after they combined for 11 goals allowed in Game 2. The Bruins could have one of their key players back in the lineup, while the Lightning are expecting a bounce-back effort from their veteran goaltender.

Here is a look at six pressing questions before Game 3:

1. Was Game 2 an anomaly for Tampa Bay's defense?

Thomas reaffirms Bruins' faith

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

TAMPA, Fla. Tim Thomas doesn't look like much of a fighter.

The Bruins goalie isn't ripped like many of his teammates.  His 5-foot-11, 201-pound frame certainly does not strike fear into anybody. And, let's not even talk about his regular-season dust-up with Montreal's Carey Price, which turned out to be more square dance than slugfest.

But, there is something that is deadly afraid of Thomas. And that something is a vulcanized piece of rubber heading toward the net Thomas is guarding.

More than nine times out of 10 -- .927 in 13 postseason games, to be exact --Thomas will find a way to deny that puck its mission.

Signs point to Bergeron's return for Game 3

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON -- All signs point to injured Boston forward Patrice Bergeron playing in Thursday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bergeron will take part in Game 3’s morning skate Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum; if he suffers no setbacks, all signs point to him returning to the Boston lineup that night.

"Tomorrow morning, he's going to be on the ice," Julien said. "I have a feeling that at that point, there's going to be discussions on whether he's ready to go or not. I can't tell you right now whether he's in or not. That's being honest. He's certainly inching closer to making a return as long as there's no setbacks."

For first time in weeks, Lightning must regroup

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- For nearly a month the Tampa Bay Lightning have left their opponents searching for answers, but now they must come up with some of their own.

Boston punctured Tampa Bay’s typically steadfast defense in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, collecting quality chances the Bruins couldn’t find in Game 1. The Bruins also coerced the Lightning into uncharacteristic mental mistakes, both before and after the whistle.

Not since dropping three of the first four games to Pittsburgh in the first round has Tampa Bay been the team that needed to review the video and correct more mistakes, but that’s the task before Game 3 of this series Thursday night at St. Pete Times Forum.

“Playoffs are like roller coaster rides,” Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier said. “But it's how you -- I think it's how you come back the next game or it's how you bounce back that shows what type of team you are and the character that you have in a team. And I really think we've been doing well.
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