Boston has been great on the road in the 2011 NHL playoffs, going 4-1 in its five road contests. The Bruins hope to continue their success when they face Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight at St. Pete Time Forum.
To do that, the Bruins are going to need to play an overall better game than they did in Tuesday’s 6-5 win. Sure the Bruins exploded offensively, but they looked lost in the defensive zone again. If they give up 5 goals tonight, it is unlikely they earn a win.
Things the Bruins need to do to win Game 3:
1. Protect the puck: The Bruins are turning the puck over, often at horrible times and in bad spots on the ice (like the front of their net or at the opposing blue line, leading to breakaways) far too often. They have left Tim Thomas out to dry on more than one occasion, and that cannot continue.
2. Get more consistent goaltending: Though Thomas has made some big saves, he has also surrendered a bunch of soft goals. Some have just been bad bounces, but others are the result of poor rebound control or positioning. He needs to be better,
3. Ride the hot guys: Tyler Seguin is on a roll, so use him in situations where he can help you: against slower defensive pairings and on the power play. Also, do not separate him from Michael Ryder, who looks great playing with Seguin.
Things the Lightning need to do to win Game 3:
1. Keep forcing turnovers: Tampa Bay has been great on the forecheck and using its neutral zone trap to create turnovers, whish have almost always led to fantastic scoring chances. Until the Bruins show the ability to handle the pressure, it might not be a bad idea to turn it up a bit – especially in the neutral zone, where the Lightning would still have players back defensively.
2. Hit Seguin and Ryder: One of the big knocks against Seguin (and Ryder) is that they do not
like the physical game. Tampa needs guys like Steve Downie, Dominic Moore, and Ryan Malone to get physical with Boston’s skilled players.
3. Tighten it up: In Game 2, Boston broke through the vaunted 1-3-1 with speed and quick, effective puck movement. Tampa can stop some of that with physical play, but it also needs more consistent play from the three guys in the middle of the system. They were caught flat-footed and/or out position on a number of occasions.
Two areas where the game could be won (or lost):
1. Goal: Thomas has been shaky so far, and Roloson had a tough game on Tuesday – though, in his defense, you would be hard-pressed to call any of the 6 goals he allowed soft.
2. The face-off dot: Tampa dominated the face-offs in Game 1, and Boston dominated in Game 2. Not shockingly, the team that won the face-off battles each game. If Patrice Bergeron returns tonight, it gives Boston a great advantage here.
One move I’d make :
1. Seguin for Lucic (maybe): If Lucic continues to struggle, why not try Seguin here? He’d be a great complement for David Krejci and Nathan Horton, who both have been playing great. They have been held back a little by Lucic’s slowness of foot and poor overall play.
Goals: Nathan Horton, David Krejci 6
Assists: Patrice Bergeron 10
Points: Nathan Horton 13
Shots: Zdeno Chara 41
Plus/Minus: Chris Kelly, Chara (plus-9)
Blocks: Dennis Seidenberg 33
Hits: Milan Lucic 32
Ice Time: Seidenberg 28:36
Tampa Bay’s Leaders:
Goals: Sean Bergenheim 8
Assists: Teddy Purcell 11
Points: Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier 16
Shots: Lecavalier 40
Plus/Minus: Steve Downie (plus-9)
Blocks: Eric Brewer 36
Hits: Brewer 43
Ice Time: Brewer 26:02
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Topics: Boston Bruins, David Krejci, Dayne Roloson, Eastern Confernce Finals, Martin St. Louis, Michael Ryder, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bregeron, Ryan Malone, Sean Bergenheim, Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightining, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Vincent Lecavalier