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Both the Lightning and Bruins have a lot to work on going into Game 3

May 18, 2011, 1:17 AM EDT

Simon Gagne, Ryan Malone, Dennis Seidenberg Getty Images

A chronic optimist can find reasons for positivity for the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning after Boston’s 6-5 win in Game 2. The Bruins’ perspective is fairly obvious: they tied the series up and witnessed a possible breakthrough night for their talented but struggling rookie Tyler Seguin. It doesn’t take much to find a silver lining for Tampa Bay, either. Ultimately, they earned one win on the road and ended Game 2 with some momentum.

Yet a realist will point out that each team has plenty to work on. Let’s take a look at some of the issues plaguing both teams as the series shifts to Tampa Bay.

Bruins won, but shouldn’t get fat and happy.

Yes, Boston tied things up and looked dominant at times, but there was a lot to worry about. If you ask me, the Lightning’s advantage in foot speed has been painfully apparent at times. Tampa Bay produced a disturbing array of semi-breakaways and full-fledged ones, but Tim Thomas was able to bail his team out on most (if not all) of them. Just watch this montage to see how different this game could have been.

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Making big saves like that is what separates the unorthodox Thomas from mere mortals. Still, how many times can Zdeno Chara and lesser Bruins defensemen find themselves flat-footed without dire results? I’m a fan of Dennis “Pain Sponge” Seidenberg, but not enough to justify the 31 minutes of ice time he received in Game 2.

Overall, leaky defense is the biggest concern for the Bruins. They barely managed to hold onto a 6-3 lead in the third period, requiring a desperate Thomas save on a Marc-Andre Bergeron rebound shot to seal things up. After dominating the first, Boston allowed Tampa Bay to out-shoot them 30-17 in the last two periods. They can’t expect Thomas to save them over the long haul, not with Tampa Bay’s talent at the forward position.

Thomas was a big reason why the Bruins won, but he allowed a goal or two he regretted in this game. Perhaps the most stoppable one came when Vincent Lecavalier beat him five-hole to score Tampa Bay’s third goal. In a tighter game, a regrettable goal would be a lot more damaging for Thomas and the Bruins.

Still, the Bruins feel a lot better about life tonight than they did on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay should be concerned, too.

Like I mentioned previously, the Lightning can take some positives into Game 3. They “earned home ice advantage” by winning on of the two games in Boston and put a lot of heat on the Bruins in the third period. They also received goals from star players after winning Game 1 thanks to support players.

That being said, it’s easy to wonder if the Lightning are running out of luck. As I pointed out in PHT’s preview post, the Lightning have been severely out-shot through the first two rounds.

That trend was tolerable when Dwayne Roloson was standing on his head, but he allowed six goals in two periods before getting the hook for Mike Smith in the third period. Many of those tallies weren’t really his fault, but one must wonder if Roloson’s improbable run hit a wall of reality. The Lightning might not need superlative goaltending from Roloson every night, but if he regresses to the point of being average, Tampa Bay could be in trouble.

***

Every NHL team sports some warts, even one that manages to make the final four in the playoffs. Still, the Bruins and Lightning have some major concerns, especially in their own end. Whichever team adjusts and improves will likely find their way to the Stanley Cup finals.

Considering their competition in the West, they better work out the kinks by then.

  1. tampafan24 - May 18, 2011 at 6:12 AM

    To say that Roloson may have run out of luck after one rough game is an extreme stretch considering the run that the Lightning have had so far. Anyone who has watched the Lightning play this year and especially during this playoff run would be able to identify the change in style last night as opposed to the successful style from the playoff victories. This team survives by putting bodies in front of pucks which they were not disciplined in last night. The positive is that the Lightning stole home ice advantage from the Bruins and that adjustments can be easily made to not get sucked into the Bruins style of playing but instead stick to what has worked throughout the playoffs.

  2. govtminion - May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    The B’s lucked out- you don’t score FIVE in the second only to barely squeak away with the win at the very end like that.

    That said, the Bruins seem to be playing a little more fiery on the road this year than at home, so with any luck the next game will continue their good showing in the dark shirts. There’s a lot to be happy about from last night- Seguin being the big part, obviously- but the defense needs to clamp down much better late in a game.

  3. deepthreat - May 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    I didn’t see all the luck the two previous commenters did.
    I saw a good team come out strong at home and take a big lead and another good team fight back.

  4. jpelle82 - May 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    the game i watched was sloppy but an entertaining game to say the least. boucher said it best afterwards…”it was a game of pond hockey”. too many breakaways and turnovers given up by both teams. thomas made the difference though. tampa easily could have won that game…chara needs to stop turning the puck over on the breakout.

  5. Bruins Unite - May 18, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    It’s common knowledge for all who watched Games 1 and 2 that with one or two exceptions, most of Tampa Bay’s goals were gifts, handed to them on a Black and Gold platter.

    So yes, the Bolts were quite lucky to have gotten the breaks they got.

    I would bank on the team that set up actual plays, and executed them.

    • jpelle82 - May 18, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      see TB’s powerplay with any questions on who sets up plays.

    • jpelle82 - May 18, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      you sound like a 13 year old kid i just beat on xbox. whah whah whah, you got lucky! whah whah whah.

    • kusheadpotman - May 18, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      jpelle82 got it right.

      Givtminion is the only Bruins fan on here I’ve seen that keeps bias out of the comments. I agree with your above comment btw, minion.

      Game 2 was slooooppy, if TB didn’t get a late penalty that killed 2 minutes worth of opportunity I think it would have gone into OT. TB was as hot at the end of the game as the B’s were in the 2nd. Sloppy but helluva game to watch.

    • govtminion - May 18, 2011 at 4:53 PM

      I’ll grant you the one when Thomas’ mask came off- why play didn’t stop is beyond me, I was ready to throw a shoe at the TV for that. And of course Kaberle didn’t help matters much with that ridiculous Game 1 gaff of his. But if you honestly can say with a straight face that it’s been all luck and no skill involved in the rest of what Tampa has done in this series, you’re not watching the games. They’ve been exactly what we expected them to be- offensively gifted, relentless, and aggressive.

      And hey, if it really is ‘luck’, then so be it. That’s hockey- and the old saying is that it’s better to be lucky than good. Not that I think that’s what we’re seeing here- a little luck on Tampa’s part, sure- and a heck of a set of skilled forwards.

      And that’s from a fellow Bruins fan. I’m getting what I wanted out of this series so far- a great battle. Whomever heads to the Finals after this will have earned it.

  6. James O'Brien - May 18, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Just to clarify, I was referring to the Lightning’s good luck in the playoffs overall, not in two games against the Boston Bruins. They’ve carried much of the play against Boston so far, but it’s far too early to tell which team is actually stronger.

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