Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Bruins-Bolts: Tyler Seguin shines, Dwayne Roloson pulled, pond hockey and more
By Scott Burnside
TAMPA, Fla. -- When you have two off days between the first two games of a playoff series, it can feel like the process is encased in mud.
But after Boston's wild 6-5 victory Tuesday that evened these Eastern Conference finals with the Tampa Bay Lightning at one game apiece, the rhythm is going to build nicely with games every other day.
With Game 3 looming Thursday night, here's a little tour around this series:
Rookie steals the showTyler Seguin is the story of the series so far with the rookie producing an NHL record-tying four-point second period in Game 2 on two goals and two assists. That four-point effort added to a goal and an assist in Game 1 to make the 19-year-old the most dynamic player in the series, a role made all the more surprising by the fact these were his first two playoff games.
Coach Claude Julien said he didn't think he needed to worry about Seguin's expectations being out of whack moving forward.
"He's not the type to get that way," Julien said.
That said, the coach removed any doubt that Seguin would go back to the press box even if Patrice Bergeron returns to action, as might be the case in Game 3.
"You don't pull a guy like that out of your lineup," Julien said of Seguin.
The Bruins' handling of the teenage prospect this season reminds us of how the Pittsburgh Penguins handled Jordan Staal, who stayed with the Penguins as an 18-year-old rookie after being drafted second overall in 2006.
Then-coach Michel Therrien and GM Ray Shero mapped out a plan for the youngster and followed it through, gradually expanding his role. Staal was a nominee for rookie of the year, and while Seguin isn't at that level yet, Julien said the same kind of planning went into Seguin's season.
"Through it all, you could see him progressing," Julien said.
Still, don't expect Tampa netminder Dwayne Roloson to be staying up late Wednesday night poring over tape of the No. 2 pick from last June's entry draft.
"No, I won't do any extra film to look at him specifically. It's not about him, it's about us, what we've got to do to shut down him and also the rest of his teammates," Roloson said during a conference call Wednesday as the Lightning, like the Bruins, took the day off from skating.
Once you start worrying about one player, another steps up and picks up the slack, so it doesn't make any sense to do so, Roloson explained.
Veteran needs to bounce backWas anyone surprised that coach Guy Boucher lifted Roloson on Tuesday after the Bruins rang five goals past him in the second period on nine shots? The weird part of a decidedly off-kilter Game 2 was that you could hardly fault the 41-year-old netminder on any of the goals. Still, it wasn't surprising to see Roloson get a break with the score 6-3 after the second period.
"Yeah, we actually had a discussion, Coach and I and our goalie coach, and we just talked about what was going on and what I thought, and obviously I didn't want to come out, but at the same time, if that's what he thought was going to give us a little spark to be able to come back, then to make the move," Roloson said.
"And he made the decision, and obviously it was the right decision when the guys came back and battled back."
Not that there's any question about Roloson's ability to bounce back after giving up more goals in the second period than he had given up in any one game this spring. In fact, the six goals Roloson gave up in Game 2 are equal to the most goals he's given up in any two back-to-back games this spring.
Roloson had won eight straight postseason games and entered the game with a .941 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average, both tops in the league. He also had made more saves than any other netminder prior to Game 2.
"It really wasn't Rollie's fault. We kind of left him out to dry," captain Vincent Lecavalier said Wednesday.
Look for Roloson to come up with a big game in Game 3.
Seidenberg playing big minutesWe haven't really seen too much from Zdeno Chara in this series thus far, and the Boston captain has just four points in 12 games this spring. But Chara's defensive partner, Dennis Seidenberg, is more than picking up the slack.
Seidenberg has logged more ice time this spring than any other player. His average ice time per game, 28:36, ranks second overall and first of all players still playing. In Game 2, he had two assists, including an important assist on the Bruins' first power-play goal of the series. We initially thought Seidenberg's big bomb with one second left on a lengthy first-period power play had gone straight in, but the goal was credited to Nathan Horton.
Seidenberg, who is making his first postseason run with the Bruins after being injured last year, has really enjoyed this spring's run.
"It's a lot of fun. As you said, I watched last year and it was frustrating. Every time you sit up top, I've said it many times before, it always seems like you're the best player because everything seems so easy [from up there]. So sitting up there was frustrating, and to be able to be part of the team this year and being able to help out just playing a big part on the team is a lot of fun and I really enjoy it," Seidenberg said.
As far as resting up when you're logging the number of minutes Seidenberg is, he said the playoffs are a completely different beast than the regular season.
"During the regular season, life goes on, my regular life. You do stuff during the day and stuff, but in the playoffs, it seems like all you do is you play the game and off day you just relax all day," he said.
"On off days, you just try and eat as much as you can and replenish your food and fluids, so that's maybe a little different than the regular season."
Pretty good gig, no?
The father of two young children, ages 3 and 7 months, said his family has been very supportive and that's without showing them the game sheet with his minutes highlighted.
"It's been good. They've been really supporting me," he said. "My wife has done a great job. I hardly [do] anything anyways."
End of pond hockey?The Bruins and the Lightning might have been the two last teams you'd expect to get into a river romp like Game 2's 6-5 affair. But Julien explained that once a team opens up, like Tampa did when it got down 4-2 and later 6-3, it creates more open ice for his own players, and it’s hard for them to resist the temptation to take advantage. And when that happens, it becomes a seesaw effect with chances at both ends.
Neither Julien nor Boucher is expecting that kind of tilt Thursday night in Tampa.
"It's not our offense right now that's the problem; I think it's playing better defense. And we've given them things on the rush that we never give against anybody. So I think we have to tighten that up," Boucher said.
Aftermath of a streakTeams don't generally go into the playoffs hoping to win eight games in a row. It just doesn't happen that way very often. But when you've won eight in a row, as the Lightning had until the Bruins stopped their streak in Game 2, you wonder how a team will respond to the sudden end to the good times.
"You know what, we've lived it, we lived it just before the playoffs, we won seven out of eight and we had our first series, obviously we lost and had to bounce back. So we've lived that this year. I think every team has," Boucher said.
"But the last time we lost, we bounced back and we won eight in a row. So there's absolutely no need to panic."
The Lightning's streak perhaps seemed longer than it was because they had to wait more than a week after sweeping Washington to start the conference finals series.
"Yeah, it's like you said, when you go on a streak like that and then we had those 10 days in between the series, and you haven't lost a game in probably -- felt like a month. So it was something that you have confidence and you get used to. But I think our team did a great job of not being content with it and always wanting more," Steven Stamkos said Wednesday.
"But you have to be a realist, and you're not going to go from the second round of the Stanley Cup finals and win every single game. The teams in this league are unbelievable teams, and they're here for a reason. And we expected this to be a long series. And our expectations haven't changed now just because we've lost one game," he added.
"It's nice to win every game, but that's not realistic. We've got to realize what we did wrong and focus on tomorrow night's game, especially in front of our home fans."