The Boston Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals with an impressive, 2-0 win over Tampa Bay Thursday night. The Bruins played a solid all-around game to stifle the Lightning attack and have put themselves in position to take a commanding lead when the series resumes Saturday afternoon.
Five people who made a difference …
Tim Thomas: After allowing 10 goals in the first two games of the series, Thomas was back to his Vezina-winning form, making 31 saves to post his second shutout of the postseason. As he always seems to do, Thomas responded to the doubters and to those suggesting maybe it was time for Tuukka Rask.
David Krejci: Boston’s first-line center made an immediate impact, scoring 1:13 into the game. He also won 13-of-18 faceoffs (72 percent), beating Vincent Lecavalier on 4-of-5 draws and Dominic Moore on 4-of-4.
Patrice Bergeron: He may not have registered a point on the scoresheet, but Bergeron had a huge impact on the game. Linemates Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, who struggled in Games 1 and 2, played their best games of the series, and the Bruins as a team looked more comfortable with Bergeron back. He logged 19:13 of ice time and won 18-of-28 faceoffs.
“I felt pretty good out there. I was pretty happy to be back to help the team,” Bergeron said in a post-game press conference. “And no, I didn’t know which game; it was more a matter of taking it a day at a time. It felt good for the past week. So I decided I was ready to go, and I had some practices this week. I had a little bit of contact with the extra guys on game day last game. I felt good.”
Claude Julien: Boston’s oft-criticized coach (often by yours truly) did a nice job of adjusting to Tampa’s attack, having his defense play aggressively in the neutral zone (especially at the defensive blue line), which forced numerous offsides as well as disrupted the Lightning attack.
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg: Chara had been OK in the first two games, while Seidenberg struggled – especially in Game 1. However, on Thursday night the two were dynamic, shutting down the Tampa forwards. The two played like one of the best defensive pairings in the league, which they have been for much of the playoffs.
And four guys who didn’t show up …
Steve Downie: The Lightning needed a physical presence and did not get one from anyone, but most notable Downie.
Martin St. Louis: The guy is one of the best players in the league, but unless you were looking for him, you would not have noticed him.
Simon Gagne: This guy killed the Bruins while in a Flyers’ uniform, but has done little so far. He was absent on Thursday.
Victor Hedman: Hedman was great in Game 1, but has gone downhill since. He left Krejci open for the first goal and just has not been a presence on the ice for the Lightning.
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