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Pregame Notebook: Game 3 at Tampa Bay

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins – The Bruins evened their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Tampa Bay Lightning at one game a piece on Tuesday night with a 6-5 victory in TD Garden.

The B’s will take the momentum gained from Tuesday’s win into tonight’s match-up in Tampa Bay. The Bruins were a better team on the road all season and into the postseason and Boston will look to continue that trend in Florida.

This evening’s Game 3 match-up is the first of three possible games in Tampa this series.  The Bruins took four of five road games in the first two series of the postseason, while winning four of six at home.

With the series tied at 1-1, the situation has turned into a best-of-five situation and the B’s need to win three games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Seguin the Star
Rookie forward Tyler Seguin made his postseason debut in Game 1 of this Eastern Conference Finals series with the Lightning on Saturday night. Seguin struck with a goal and an assist as the Bruins fell 5-2.

Seguin (19) shoots and scores as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Brett Clark (7) cannot stop him in the second period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final playoff series in Boston Tuesday, May 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Little did anyone know, the 19-year-old was just getting started. 

Seguin made sure everyone in and around Boston knew his name Tuesday night as he put up four points in the second period of Game 2 (2-2-4), leading the Bruins to a 6-5 win.

The dynamic forward showed off his speed and stick-handling skills as he deked then flew past Tampa’s defenders en route to his two highlight goals.

Asked if he feels badly for the defenders charged with minimizing Seguin’s talent. B’s blueliner Dennis Seidenberg replied, “No, not at all. You just saw how quick he was and how explosive he is and the skills he has. And it’s great to see.”

“It’s crazy. I mean he comes in, he delivers, and he played great,” he continued. “I mean he played good defensively and offensively, he was really explosive and created chances every time he was on the ice.”

Seguin managed the two tallies on just three shots, making the most of his 13:31 of ice time.  His third shot led to forward Michael Ryder’s first goal of the night. 

The hockey world knew Seguin was capable of the show he put on Tuesday night, leading to his selection as the second overall draft pick last June. But after recording just one point in the last 23 games he dressed for, many wondered when Seguin would begin to shine. 

“It’s been a whole learning curve all year. As the year went on, I’ve felt more confident and more poised. In big games, I always want to step up. Tonight I had some lucky bounces, but I was trying to take advantage of all the opportunities and they were going in tonight,” said Seguin.

Seemingly, the patience Bruins head coach Claude Julien had with the youngster paid off.

“He’s been a real good individual all year long, and he’s matured through this whole process. And he understands, I guess the values of what this game brings to you day in day out,” Julien said.

“What happened to him [Tuesday] is so great, it’s exciting for all of us. As a coach, when you see a young player play the way he did last night, it bodes so well for this organization and for him. You hope that it continues. He’s that type of player that can give you that, almost on a nightly basis, he’s going to be that kind of an impact player.

“Yesterday was just the start of something that’s going to continue to grow.”

Seguin in for Game 3, but is Bergeron back?
With questions still swirling around Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron’s availability for Game 3, Boston’s roster and line-up could look a bit different come puck drop tonight.

Patrice Bergeron skates with teammates while recovering from a mild concussion.
Bergeron suffered his third recorded career concussion in Game 4 of the B’s second round series against Philadelphia and the center missed the first two games against Tampa as he continues to recover.

But the center has skated over the past week and on Tuesday participated in contact drills with Boston’s "Black Aces."

Coach Julien confirmed that Bergeron will skate this morning and said the coaching staff will have more information regarding the 25-year-olds status.

“I have a feeling that [after morning skate] there are going to be discussions on whether he is ready to go or not.,” Julien said.  “So I can’t tell you right now whether he is in or not, and that’s being honest, but he’s certainly inching closer to making a return as long as there are no setbacks.”

Should Bergeron return Julien would have to make a decision as to who to remove from the lineup.

The B's head coach confirmed yesterday that Seguin would be in tonight’s game, regardless of Bergeron’s availability.

“You don’t pull a guy like that out of your lineup that’s been very good. Like I said, he’s earned it, he deserves to be in the lineup,” said Julien.

“That’s what we want to see. We want to see those kind of things happening.”

Low men on the totem pole in terms of ice time on Tuesday night were Daniel Paille (8:06) and Shawn Thornton (4:46). Paille spent 2:37 of his ice-time on the penalty kill, where he was a valuable replacement for the missing Bergeron. Thornton is the only Bruins forward not to have scored this postseason.

No matter who Julien could pull from the line-up, line changes and adjustments will also be on his mind if Bergeron plays. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley each took a turn in Bergeron’s spot on the second line in Games 1 and 2 respectively. Seguin filled in on the vacant third line position where he created chemistry with Ryder.

“I think I try to use my speed and I’ve always been a decent playmaker and he’s got a tremendous shot. So really when I’m in their zone, I’m just looking for that guy and I know he’s not going to make a mistake,” Seguin said of playing with Ryder.

Julien also liked the look of the line that along with Kelly, produced eight points on Tuesday night. 

“We still have some decisions to make, but you know I’ll be honest with you, I liked what I saw, that line, the three of them just played well together,” Julien said. “So we’ll make some decisions probably [today].”

Easy Ryder
After finding himself in the press box for three games towards the end of the regular season, Ryder has stepped up, as he always seems to do, in the postseason.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, right, makes a save on a shot by Ryder, left, during the first period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final playoff series, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The forward recorded an 18-23-41 scoring line in the regular season, and finishing at a minus-1. But in the first thirteen games of the postseason, Ryder has already collected 4-5-9 totals and a plus-6 rating.

“You look back at some of the stats in the playoffs and what he has done in the past and even last year, was a real tough year for him but in the playoffs he was a decent player and Michael has been really reliable in the playoffs for us ever since I’ve known him,” Julien said.

“And there is no doubt he seems to be one of those players that plays his best when the playoffs come around.”

Julien has watched Ryder develop as a player, coaching him in three stages of his career. Julien first coached Ryder with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, then in Montreal with the Canadiens and finally, in Boston.

“The first time I met him he came out of Newfoundland and where he lived he hardly practiced, he just played games with his team. So he was really really raw,” Julien said of the winger.

Ryder’s speed, skill and scoring ability is evident, but the spotty production from the forward is often frustrating for fans and coaches to watch, prompting Julien to bench Ryder late in the regular season.

Having known Ryder since the beginning of his professional hockey career, Julien understands the 31-year-old and has learned the best way to teach and coach Ryder. 

“There is no doubt I believed in his ability to score, that I’ve also been one of those guys at time that felt like I needed to push him and he’s had his ups and downs and it hasn’t been all great,” Julien said of Ryder joining the B’s organization.

This postseason Ryder has come up huge for Boston. Beginning with two goals in the Bruins Game 4 win over Montreal, including the overtime game-winner. Ryder continued his production in Tuesday night’s Game 2. Eastern Conference Finals 6-5 win over Tampa Bay.  Ryder had a 2-1-3 line and a plus-2 on three shots.

“It was definitely a big win for us. We don’t want to be down two-nothing,” Ryder said after the game.

“I think we did a lot of good things in the second. We just came out, kept doing things we did in the first and we managed to score some goals.”
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