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Five Thoughts: Red flags for Boston, kudos for Tampa Bay

May 15, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT

Sean Bergenheim, Victor Hedman AP

If anything, last night’s Game 1 between Tampa Bay and Boston proved to us that we probably don’t know as much about hockey as we think we do. Our predictions for the series might not turn out too well if the Boston team that came out in Game 1 keeps coming back. Tampa’s handy throttling of the Bruins sent a strong message that they are not to be trifled with. Five Thoughts today deals with what we saw last night.

1. One of the things we were concerned about in this series is how both Guy Boucher and Claude Julien’s defensive strategizing might slow things down and turn the series into a less-than-exciting brand of hockey. It then goes to figure that the Lightning would throw the Bruins a curveball and pressure them all night long instead of sitting back and waiting for them to attack.

Tampa brought the pressure and the Bruins seemed lost as to what they could do, in particular Tomas Kaberle. Changing things up like that clearly bothered the Bruins. Does Boucher keep switching things up to keep the B’s off guard or is this the game plan for the series? Julien’s a smart coach so he’ll find a way to counter but tonight they looked bad and the frustration boiled over at the end of the game with both Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton getting tossed from the game for roughing incidents. Losing their cool like that will only lead to Boston getting knocked out of the playoffs.

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2. Should the Bruins problems on the power play continue, and if Game 1 is any indication they will, then the first guy run out of town in Boston will be Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle was acquired to help an already rough Bruins power play unit and set them straight and turn their power play from a hindrance to a cohesive scoring unit. Instead, the Bruins are looking as lost as ever and Kaberle’s inability to help quarterback their unit  is exacerbating the problem.

For one reason or another, Kaberle is seemingly unwilling to shoot. Opting to pass is good to help guys get going, but when defenses aren’t even respecting his shot and dropping off to cover other players, it turns it into an awkward 4-on-4 situation instead of a power play. That kind of action won’t get it done and now the Bruins are looking like a team trying too hard when they get on the power play. If they were squeezing their sticks too tight, they’d have turned to dust by now. It’s late in the year to discover a magic power play elixir but the Bruins must find it fast.

3. The one guy that could help out on the power play isn’t getting the chance to play much at all. Rookie Tyler Seguin got to play in his first playoff game last night and scored a goal and added an assist. With that sort of production you’d think he would see more of the ice. Instead, Seguin only played 9:38 of the game, better than just Dan Paille and Shawn Thornton. Seguin is an offensive talent meant to do offensive things and he’s played power play time in the past. For a team that’s in desperate need of productivity on the power play and more offense, Seguin could be what they need.

Of course that leads into the question of why coach Claude Julien seems to shy away from playing Seguin at all. Julien’s shown more than enough love for veteran players over rookies in the past. We saw him butt heads with Phil Kessel over his effort level in the past scratching him from playoff games only to see Kessel respond by scoring in bunches when put back in. This isn’t the same sort of battle with Seguin, but Julien’s reticence to use him is head-scratching. Clearly Seguin has skills and he showed that in Game 1, let’s hope he gets to see more ice time because of it.

4. One area to give Tampa Bay credit for is their ability to resist the physical irritation of the Bruins and how they played the role of the wise guy and goaded Boston into taking bad penalties. The Bruins are a tough team and a very proud one and they won’t take kindly to any shenanigans going on on the ice. Last night we saw Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton all get goaded into going too far while the Lightning resisted the Bruins’ overly physical efforts to irk them. Tampa Bay was built to not be a fighting team and while some have accused them of being a team that dives to get calls, it’s clear that they won’t be retaliating the way the Bruins want them to. With the B’s so hot under the collar, they’ll have to learn to watch themselves when opting to mix it up with Tampa.

5. The most perplexing part to the Lightning is how they’re getting so much depth scoring. Everyone wants to focus in on Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos but when their third line is getting just as many scoring chances and finishing their opportunities, it makes them a handful to stop. After all, when you’ve got three lines all evenly capable of scoring on you that makes defending against them a major pain.

Spending your effort defending that big three along with Simon Gagne and Teddy Purcell as well and then having to deal with Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore, and Steve Downie who are all having huge playoffs is a nightmare. The Bruins will need to find ways to bottle them all up as well as not giving them a chance on the power play. Giving them power play opportunities means they can get guys like Marc-Andre Bergeron into the act as well so he can bomb away from the point… Just like he did in Game 1.

  1. nhlbruins90 - May 15, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Kindly put Kaberle in his car heading westbound on the Pike. The one place where Seguin’s skill can be used while minimizing his defensive liabilities is the power play. But that’s going so well for the B’s now, why take a chance on messing it up. Oh wait …

  2. wheresdapuck - May 15, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Hopefully Julien will learn where Broudreau (Capitals) did not – toss your original game plan as it will not work! The Ligthning are very quick and they are the best at taking advantage of turnovers! The Bruins “D” cannot make mistakes – none at all! The Bruins played a respectable game last night and showed some good offense, but they have to skate faster & harder or they will be 4 and OUT!

    • bucspasm - May 15, 2011 at 8:03 PM

      Just like the commercial with the Flyers playing the perfect season, right? 4 shots on the power play? I missed that good offense as well. And the only respectful activity was the Bolts not jamming it up the Bruins flupus in the last 33 after the Bruins lost all composure. Guy is a class act and how he isn’t in the running for coach of the year is quite odd. Perhaps a Cup will wake a few of the talking heads up.

  3. king3319 - May 15, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    With no vested interest in any of the teams left standing…I’m thoroughly enjoying this years playoffs..maybe I live in my own twisted little world…but I can’t remember a playoff year where it’s completely wide open!!! The play for the most part has been nothing short of fantastic!!! I agree the Boston boys better step it up or out in 4 is right!!! Gotta pull for the sharks though…they’ve been so close in the past love watchin them step up!!!

  4. bucspasm - May 15, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    What has been enjoyable as a Lightning fan throughout this post season is how the team catches opponents of guard with those 3rd & 4th lines, then it becomes wide open when the big guns start pouring it on. This is a T-E-A-M if I ever saw one and that ALL IN slogan for this year has taken on a life of its own. Thinking of selling my Rays – Yankee ticket for Tuesday just so I don’t have to watch the DVR when I get home.

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