Throughout the Eastern Conference Final between the Bruins and Tampa Bay, TheBruinsBlog.net will collaborate on Q&A features previewing each game with Jon Jordan of Beasts of the Southeast at Kukla’s Korner.
The following is the next installment of my answers to his questions as we await Game 2 Tuesday night. For the complete post, log on to Kukla’s Korner.
JJ: So, I wrote this morning about how, now, nothing that the Bolts accomplish from this point forward should be considered a surprise. I should add to that, here, that the dominance they showed last night was definitely surprising to me. I hate to say it, and I don’t know why, but Boston just didn’t look ready to me. Tim Thomas was their best player last night and, though he was his spectacular self at times, even he wasn’t all that great, as a whole. With that awe-inspiring lead-in out of the way, how’s this for a follow-up question: What the hell happened last night, from a Bruins perspective?
MK: What happened was another lame start to a series by the Bruins who have made a habit of doing this over the years, including in the first round against Montreal and in the Carolina series in 2009. For whatever reason, when the Bruins have too much time to prepare for an opponent, they fall flat on their collective faces. But let’s face it, one question mark about this team from Day One has been the ability to move the puck out of its own end. Well, there’s Mr. Puck Mover himself, Tomas Kaberle, moving the puck right into his own net. And Dennis Seidenberg compounds a giveaway by losing his stick and then making a Landon Donovan (is that a strong soccer reference? I have no idea) to Sean Bergenheim for a Lightning goal.
But also (and this was the main story I wrote last night out of something like 1,000 blog posts that took me until 2 a.m. to write) Patrice Bergeron’s absence is even larger than I or many predicted it would be. I knew Chris Kelly wouldn’t be able to duplicate Bergeron’s offensive upside or faceoff prowess. I didn’t realize that head coach Claude Julien wasn’t going to trust the Rich Peverley line to take any meaningful defensive shifts, which would put the Gregory Campbell line Boston’s fourth line on the ice for a number of important shifts. Now those shifts didn’t hurt the Bruins, but when they’re spending so much time out there, there’s less of a chance of Boston scoring, especially when Bergeron’s absence makes his old line into a checking line and the first line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton is extending its break between series to eight days and then more.
The Lightning did a great job of cutting off the head – the Krejci line – to kill the snake.
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