TAMPA -- The Eastern Conference finals have shifted to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4, with Game 3 on Thursday night and Game 4 on Saturday afternoon at St. Pete’s Times Forum. If the Bruins want to build on the momentum from their 6-5 win in Game 2 Tuesday night and take their first lead in the series, they need to follow these three keys to success:
Don’t be satisfied, and tighten up the defense. Yes, Boston won an exciting and dramatic Game 2, as Tyler Seguin thrilled fans with his electrifying four-point performance. Yes, the Bruins exploded for five goals in the second period and also got two power-play goals. But they also veered away from their structured game plan and their defense suffered as a result. They proved they can hang in what Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher termed “pond hockey,” but with all that speed and offensive firepower on the Lightning, the Bruins can’t expect to win another game of shinny.
The defense needs to tighten up and start playing more physical as the Lightning forwards penetrate the zone. They need to be stronger on the boards and, most importantly, they need to clear Lightning forwards out in front of the net and make life easier for Tim Thomas. There have been too many scrambles and rebound chances in front of Thomas in this series and the Bruins can’t expect Thomas to save the game all the time -- as he had to in the third period of Game 2, when the Lightning scored two unanswered goals and turned a 6-3 Bruins lead into a 6-5 nail-biter.
The Bruins have shown that when they play as a unit they can clog up the neutral zone and eliminate the opponents’ first outlet passes. That was key to their success in shutting down the Flyers' attack in the Eastern Conference semifinals. If the puck does get into the Bruins' end though, then the Bruins must play a tough, physical brand of hockey and not allow bodies to roam free in front of or behind the net to set up scoring opportunities.
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