Throughout the Bruins-Lightning Eastern Conference Final, TheBruinsBlog.net will collaborate on Q&A features before every game with Jon Jordan 0f Beasts of the Southeast over at Kukla’s Korner. Here’s the latest installment, where Jon responds to questions about the Lightning’s adjustment, their response to a rare loss and talks about how to stop Tyler Seguin.
MK: Well, it looks like the score is James Bond 1, Dr. Evil Guy Boucher 1. In the movies, once Bond foils the sinister plot, the story ends. But Boucher and the Lightning get a real-life opportunity to get back at it, and on home ice. So what does the mastermind have in store? What adjustments will be made? Could we see any sort of a lineup change?
JJ: The focus – and perhaps the singular focus – will be on returning to the structure of their system for the Lightning, who were as freewheelin’ as you’ll ever see them in game two, a recipe that helps make for an exciting game maybe, as we saw last night, but not so much for a Tampa Bay win. In November, the Bolts actually managed an 8-7 victory in Philadelphia over the Flyers but Boucher was none too pleased, despite the two points. Last night, had the Lightning prevailed, you still wouldn’t have seen a happy head coach afterwards. About 99% of that first period, in particular, was unacceptable, as compared to what has brought Tampa Bay its biggest successes this season.
I don’t expect anything to be pulled from any bag of tricks. Instead, the Bolts will dance with the girl that brought ‘em – and hope their two-step turns out better than Boston’s in game three. I also wouldn’t expect anything in the way of a lineup change, as there isn’t exactly a murderer’s row of impact players at Tampa’s disposal among the Black Aces bunch.
MK: It’s been a long time since the Lightning lost a game. How do you think they’ll respond emotionally to a defeat, especially one that was so uncharacteristic of the way they play?
JJ : One of this club’s strongest assets – another direct influence of the attitude of their head coach – has been their ability to move on to the next task at hand, regardless of the most recent result. That is, win or lose, Boucher’s Bolts are often already looking ahead to their next tilt when plenty of others would either be hanging their hands at an unsatisfying effort or overjoyed at a positive result. The Lightning don’t seem to have that in them so, even if last night had ended up 8-3 Boston (as I actually expected it might, on several occasions), I wouldn’t have much in the way of concern for any kind of carry-over.
Instead, by and large, the game two loss is already forgotten and the focus has shifted to regaining the series lead in game three. We knew from the onset that this had the makings of a long series and the Bolts got an apparently necessary reminder of just that last night.
For a team that has showed such resiliency and composure, however, I couldn’t help but wonder intermittently during game two whether or not the relative ease with which they handled Boston in game one, paired with a stunning 2-1 lead after a very poorly executed first period last night, might have had a negative effect on Tampa Bay, collectively. Ordinarily, I’d never accuse this team of looking a gift horse in the mouth, based on the intangibles they’ve shown all year but, at times, as I said, I allowed my brain to wonder if just maybe things had come a bit too easily for them in the first four periods of this series.
If so, that’s gotta go away, like, yesterday. And knowing what I know about Boucher and staff, if there was any hint of as much, it probably did just that.
MK: Will the Lightning even bother playing Game 3 if Tyler Seguin is in the Boston lineup? I mean the guy’s on pace to score 10 goals in this series, if it goes seven, record 10 assists and I think he’s going to invigorate the entire retirement population of the Tampa/St. Pete area like some modern-day character from Cocoon. He might win the hearts of some teeny-bopper Floridians while he’s at it. Since we all knew he was going to be this great and there was no way even head coach Claude Julien couldn’t hold him back forever, what do you expect Seguin to do for an encore and can the Lightning even think of stopping him, never mind do it?
JJ : Do I sense a hint of sarcasm in thy tone, Mr. Kalman? Methinks young Seguin’s emergence of yesternight has left ye less than sold…
But I do get where you’re coming from. Judging from most of what I saw on Twitter during Seguin’s four-point explosion, construction on a statue outside of the Garden has already begun.
Let’s not take away from his performance too much, though. After all, a six-points-in-two-games playoff baptism is nothing to scoff at. And, probably most importantly, if there are still any major concerns about the return of Patrice Bergeron, the effectiveness of Seguin to this point (and, oh yeah, the win itself) takes the foot off the throat a bit, in terms of feeling pressure to get Bergeron back in there. Granted, if he’s ready, he’s ready and, surely, Boston will welcome him back with open arms… I’m just saying they may not feel his return is as much of an absolute necessity as they did prior to game two.
Or maybe they do, come to think of it. Julien seemed awful eager to get his jack-of-all-trades back as soon as possible at the postgame presser, the win notwithstanding. (And I would think that your guess of Shawn Thornton coming out upon Bergeron’s return is probably the most likely lineup change. I mean, who else?)
One thing’s for sure from a Lightning standpoint: A trio of defensemen in Mike Lundin, Victor Hedman and Randy Jones have now been “posterized” by Boston’s rookie sensation and the whole team has yet another weapon to account for at all times.
To address your questions more specifically: Yes, I think the Lightning will bother playing game three, although it is clear that Super Seguin makes all hope futile; he’ll probably end up with 15 goals and 19 assists before the final series horn sounds; old folks from Pensacola to Key West are most definitely en route to Tampa, with hopes of touching this living, breathing fountain of youth and Justin Bieber’s got nothing on this Beantown Baby, who is headed to the pages of Tiger Beat magazine for sure (or whatever…)
Seguinistas (I get that right?) everywhere, rejoice!