NHL Playoff Game Night: 5/25/11 Bruins at Lightning
The Lightning's top power play unit gets its groove back.
Series Tied at 3-3
Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the victory. I was not pleased at the performance, though, whatsoever. I'll give Roli the benefit of the doubt on the 1st goal by Boston, despite the fact he didn't look comfortable in the 1st Period, but the 4th goal was unacceptable. He flopped into a snow angel for no reason and kicked a cheap goal into his own net to make it a 1 goal game. The result is that the Lightning had to expend a lot of energy at the end of the game to preserve this victory, and that hurts because the Lightning's game at 5-on-5 depends on pace. Boston's doesn't. He made things a lot more difficult than they needed to be and made the hill a little higher to climb in Game 7. I expect more from Roli because of his experience level. He's got to be much better in the next game.
00:36 TB Purcell (5), Lecavalier (12)
07:09 BOS Lucic (3), Horton (8), Boychuk (3)
16:30 BOS Krejci (8), Paille (2)
07:55 TB St Louis (9), Lecavalier (13), Stamkos (6)(PP)
13:35 TB Purcell (6), Downie (11), Clark (2)(PP)
00:34 TBL Stamkos (6), Brewer (6), St Louis (10)(PP)
09:46 BOS Krejci (9), Horton (9), Kaberle (7)(PP)
10:15 TB St Louis (10), Downie (12), Stamkos (7)
13:28 BOS Krejci (10), Lucic (6), Kaberle (8)
Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell were the game's first and third stars. Color me shocked Steve Downie didn't get a star, because he was masterful tonight. He set up two goals with brilliant passes and was working his butt off all game long. Boston's media has decided to try to make Downie out to be anti-Christ, and that's fine. Tonight's game should be instructive for him. Success is the best revenge, and beating Boston in Game 7 would be the perfect way to shut his critics up.
The Lightning power play was 3-for-4 and they got 2 goals from the 1st unit and 1 goal from the 2nd unit, including a goal that should absolutely terrify the Bruins: Steven Stamkos from the left wing circle on the one-timer. If Stammer has the range from that spot, it's unstoppable. That can give the Lightning a quick and easy goal in every game, and that's a huge advantage at this time of year.
I'll probably have more to say about it after the series, but the officiating has been awful all playoffs long and tonight was just another chapter in a long litany of abuses by the zebras. I'm not terribly happy with Steven Stamkos stopping on the play to try to embellish the high stick he took on the Bruins' second goal, but that call has to be made 10 times out of 10, especially within 10 feet of the Lightning's own blueline. That's the kind of missed call that can result in a really good scoring chance the other way every time, and I'm sick and tired of all the missed high sticking calls. Martin St. Louis' face has been a pin cushion all playoffs long, and now Stammer gets El Kabonged and there was no call. That's unacceptable, and especially unacceptable in an elimination game.
Boston's Brad Marchand decided to tug on Superman's cape by taking a run at Mattias Ohlund tonight, partly as a reprisal for Ohlund lighting him up in Game 5. Mark Recchi just about got fitted for a toe tag on a hit a few shifts later in retaliation. Honestly, #5 is not the man I would be stirring things up with. The old man doesn't need a reason to try to bury you. To try and run after him and beg for payback likely won't end well for the person making that effort. There's something called "old man strong." Mattias Ohlund is "old man strong," and he seems to be getting "old man stronger" as these playoffs wear on. I expected to see Victor Hedman progress, game by game, as he gained more experience in these playoffs. I did not expect Mattias Ohlund to look like the Mattias Ohlund from 5 years ago, nor did I expect Marc-Andre Bergeron to turn into a poor man's Dan Boyle. I'm glad anytime I see those two on the ice these days.
On another note, Lightning fans: lets have a talk about class and not littering the ice after a victory or trying to pelt the other team with rally drums at the final horn. Yes, I know Bruins fans were doing the same thing tonight chucking the free promo materials at Lightning players. Yes, I know they've been throwing beer bottles at our players after 2 of the games in Boston earlier in this series. No, you still shouldn't do it. You're better than that. Put it another way: how dumb would you have felt if the rally drum one of you numbskulls threw on the ice ended up being the one that Marty St. Louis slipped on and pulled a groin or broke a bone? Be smart. Celebrate with class. Boston's fan base may not have been this far in a very long time, but the Lightning has been here before. Act like it. It's embarrassing for me to have to waste a paragraph on this in the Eastern Conference Finals, and surprising because Lightning fans really are the most underrated in all of the NHL.
Game 7. I don't know what to expect. Tonight's game wasn't what I expected because the Lightning came out flat as a pancake in the 1st Period and were lucky they didn't get run out of the building because of it. They won the game on the power play and held Boston to 20 shots, but they can play with a lot better pace and intensity in 5-on-5 than they did tonight. Honestly, they played a lot better game at 5-on-5 in Boston in Game 5, but didn't get the results and didn't have the power play functioning. So, I don't know which way Game 7 is going to go. There are signs and portents pointing both ways. You're probably going to hear a ton about the Lightning being undefeated in Game 7's and Dwayne Roloson being 7-0 in elimination games. The Lightning have also held the Bruins to just 20 shots in each of the last 2 games, and they finally got their power play straightened out tonight. On the other hand, we haven't seen the full 60 minute effort from the Lightning at the pace they prefer to play since Game 1 of the series, Roloson did not look impressive tonight, and after doing a pretty good job on them for most of the series, the Lightning let the Bruins' top line of Lucic, Krejci, and Horton absolutely run wild on them tonight on the forecheck in Game 6. And, there's the matter of the energy wasted to protect the lead at the end tonight as a consequence of Roloson's bad goal, which I'm still extremely upset about.
What would I like to see? I'd like to see a magically healthy Sean Bergenheim help lead a Lightning team that plays at a high pace and intensity while minding its details. I'd like to see strong 5-on-5 play lead to some power plays and some power play goals, and I'd like to see the Lightning build a multi-goal lead they can protect with the 1-3-1 and some good goaltending by Dwayne Roloson. What will we see? I don't know. The Lightning's power play, in of itself, gives the team a puncher's chance of pulling out the series, regardless of the pace at 5-on-5. But you'd like to see the Lightning put their best game of the season thus far on the ice and not leave any doubt. Player for player, I believe the Lightning are the more talented team and I believe Guy Boucher is the best coach in the NHL. I'd hate to see the Lightning let the game hang close if they have another opportunity to build a multi-goal lead and see an opportunity to go to the Finals slip by on a bad bounce or off a faceoff play or on the play of the opposing goaltender. If they lose this series, Lightning players really will take it to their graves, and Lightning fans will, too.
Blair Jones had 1 shot and 2 hits in 6:59. He got his pocket picked in his own zone on one play tonight but worked his butt off to recover and he continues to be a threat on the forecheck and physically in all three zones.