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Moore playing an enormous role for the Bolts

by Corey Masisak
BOSTON -- Guy Boucher says center Dominic Moore doesn't get enough of the credit for the success of Tampa Bay's third line, but that may no longer be true.

Moore was, after all, named the No. 1 star in the Lightning's Game 1 victory against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals without being one of the team's five goal scorers. But Boucher's broader point is sound -- Moore is a guy who hasn't been getting the recognition he deserves for a while now.

"He does everything but [Sean] Bergenheim gets the credit or [Steve] Downie gets the credit. When you look at the clips, you realize a big portion of why they were successful was because of Dominic Moore," Boucher said. "It is not surprising to me. That's why we brought him in. Last year I thought he was one of the better players for Montreal in the playoffs and I liked him during the season. He's just continually doing what I feel fits exactly with what we want to do with this team."

Boucher is right about Moore's performance in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was a prototypical No. 3 center for the Canadiens, delivering fantastic work on the penalty kill, winning faceoffs, playing sound defensively at even strength and chipping in some offense.

So Montreal obviously had to make a serious push to keep him right? If not, then clearly several teams would be waiting to scoop him up when the calendar flipped to July and Moore was an unrestricted free agent, no?

Actually, neither of those things are true. Moore did make it to July without re-singing with the Canadiens and as the first days of free agency came and went, he remained without a new NHL home.

It wasn't until July 30 that Moore inked a two-year, $2.2 million contract with Tampa Bay, and he moved on to his eighth team in six years.

"It is just the way it goes any summer when you're a free agent," Moore said. "You have to wait and see how it goes and see what opportunities present themselves. I'm very happy with how it worked out. [I'm] not surprised -- I've come to expect the unexpected. This is the way the League works. I obviously enjoyed my time but everything has worked out well."

Added Marc-Andre Bergeon, who was teammates with him in Montreal and now again in Tampa Bay: "The way teams are handling their personnel since that new CBA, you're seeing it more and more from each team every year. They focus on seven or eight guys and the rest are exchangeable, I guess."

General manager Steve Yzerman credited his assistant, Julien BreisBois, for the Moore signing. BreisBois was a member of Montreal's organization before joining Tampa Bay shortly after Yzerman was hired.

Moore's play with the Lightning this season has been far from "exchangeable." He finished the season with the team he started it with for the first time since 2005-06, and collected a career-best 18 goals.

He also became a key member of Tampa Bay's penalty kill and won more than 53 percent of his faceoffs.

"He's matured," Bergeron said. "He understand his strengths and he became really good at it. He's become a really successful player now."

For the second straight season Moore has been a Stanley Cup Playoffs standout. He has teamed with Bergenheim and Downie to form maybe the best third line of the playoffs.

Moore has 2 goals and 9 points in 12 games. He has more points than Steven Stamkos or Ryan Malone while also helping Tampa Bay's PK to a 94.8 percent success rate -- tops among teams that made it past the first round.

"I think all three of us have a lot of quickness and aggressiveness to our game," Moore said of his line. "Because we have that quickness I think we can be more aggressive and cover up for each other well."

Added Boucher: "He's been very consistent. In his case, more than most of our players, there's a consistency there you can rely on every game whether it is offensively or defensively. He's been a big part of the culture of our team. We talk about wanting to be humble, and he's a guy who doesn't want to take credit for anything when in the background there's plenty of credit deserved for sure."

These few days in Boston have been something of a homecoming for Moore, who spent four years playing at Harvard. Moore has played many regular season games at TD Garden since his days playing in the Beanpot, but Game 1 was his first Stanley Cup Playoffs contest in the building.

"Obviously Boston is a great city and I love it," Moore said. "I still live here [in the offseason] so it is great to be back. I have a lot of friends who kind of have divided allegiances this week. It is fun."
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