After more than a week to prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins looked a bit lost and confused in the first period of Saturday night’s 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It certainly isn’t time to panic yet, but the Bruins do need to play with a bit more sense of urgency on Tuesday night if they want to even the series at one game apiece.
With only one more day before Game 2, here are a few things on which the Bruins need to focus as they prep for an important game with the Lightning.
1. Protect the puck: Tampa Bay was able to strike quickly in the first thanks to poor puck control by the Bruins. Two goals were the result of turnovers in the defensive zone, as Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle had (unofficial, of course) assists on Tampa’s first and third goals. The second goal came off a turnover in the neutral zone. The Bruins need to do a much better job of handling the puck and with their decision-making against the 1-3-1 forecheck.
2. Tim Thomas must play better: Hard to believe fans are already calling for a change in goal after the season (and series against Philadelphia), but they are. Granted, Thomas was not at his best in Game 1, but I would bet he is on top of his game on Tuesday. If he isn’t, the Bruins are in trouble.
3. Get traffic in front of Dwayne Roloson: The Bruins made life easy for Roloson, as he rarely had anyone in front of him or anyone bumping him. If he’s seeing the puck, he’s stopping it. Boston needs to be aggressive with Roloson, getting in his face and being aggressive in getting to the net.
4. Change the power play: I realize that repetition is the key to success at anything. However, when you’re repeating something that does not work, it will never be successful. Tampa knows the Bruins are going to work the puck high for Chara to shoot, so they keep a guy in his shooting lane (or his face) at all times. When Marc Savard was with the team, Boston would work the puck low and set plays from there. Put Tyler Seguin in that Savard spot and try that again. It may not work, but it cannot be any worse.
5. Get the lead: Like Montreal, Tampa Bay plays great with a lead. They are confident and quick and explosive when they are ahead and can set up that forecheck. The Pittsburgh series showed they do struggle when the opponent jumps on them, so it’s important for the Bruins to start fast.
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