Kukla's Korner

Category: Boston-Bruins

Opposing Viewpoint: Kalman on Game Two, Seguin’s Explosion, Bergeron’s Return, Horton’s Head & More

Throughout the Eastern Conference Final, Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog.net and I will be providing some insight from our respective sides with reaction to each game result and a look to what’s ahead via a series of Q&As.

In this session, Matt responds to my latest inquisition on such topics as the wild and whacky game two, Tyler Seguin’s coming out party (and the Seguinista Revolution!), Patrice Bergeron’s eventual (impending?) return, Nathan Horton and some dumb-dumb penalties and much, much more. (I’m just glad I got to my counterpart here before he was exposed to this lovely Florida air. It does strange things to those Northerners, you know…)


JJ: I usually try to come across as at least moderately eloquent in my writing - even if that is merely in asking questions, as it is here. However, after hitting you with a “What the hell happened…”-type question after game one, try as I may, I can’t get away from a similar inquiry after that wild game two!

A six-goal second period, 11 tallies in total, a Tyler Seguin explosion, bonehead penalties… It all leads me to, once again… What the hell happened here?

MK: It’s the Seguinista Revolution and all we can do is join them or go home. By now you know how the Bruins have been holding this kid back and he would’ve scored 400 goals this season if he got the 40 minutes per night of ice time he deserves.

But seriously, what happened is the worst defensive performance by a Bruins team under Claude Julien definitely in a win, and maybe ever. Other than Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins have five pylons out there and Tim Thomas was up to the task. Dwayne Roloson, on the other hand, wasn’t able to handle a full does of Seguin, or Michael Ryder, or Nathan Horton.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

The Bear’s Been Poked: How Will Boston Respond? (Plus, Thoughts on Potential Relocation for Atlanta)

With a convincing 5-2 game one victory, the Tampa Bay Lightning took the early edge in the Eastern Conference Final over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

The Bolts outscored, outhustled, outcoached and just about outeverythinged the Bs in their own barn in the series opener, swinging things in their favor early, welcoming the latest wave of converted non-believers to the bandwagon and inching, albeit slightly, ever closer to playing for the Stanley Cup.

But everyone in Tampa’s camp will have tossed that aside in approaching game two, recognizing (as they have all season) that their success in game one was just one game and further buying into head coach Guy Boucher’s belief that the playoffs are about desperation and not momentum.

So, after putting the home team in a 1-0 series hole and visibly frustrating Boston in doing so, the Lightning will have to find a way tonight to match the desperation level of what should be the more desperate team. Though they have done it before (against Montreal in round one), the Bruins do not want to face the arduous task of battling back from a 2-0 deficit. Not against a relentless Tampa Bay squad that will then smell familiar blood, fresh off a semifinal sweep of the Washington Capitals.

Thus, as the Lightning do, expect Boston to come out storming.

After all, the Bolts poked the bear, as they say (or, in this case, the bears). And you’re not supposed to do that, so we’re told.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

He Asked, I Answered (ECF Vol. 2): On Impact of Roloson/Brewer, Hedman vs Lucic & Pregame Traditions

Throughout the Eastern Conference Final, Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog.net and I will be providing some insight from our respective sides with reaction to each game result and a look to what’s ahead via a series of Q&As.

Here’s our latest back-and-forth, my responses to his questions on the impact of Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer on the Lightning, the Hedman vs. Lucic/Horton vs. Moore exchange at the end of game one, Tampa pregame traditions and more.


MK: Wow, as you wrote in your questions to me, the Lightning really did dominate Game 1. I can’t say I’m that surprised, considering the Bruins tendency to get out of the gates slow in series and in games, and the fact that we both expected the Lightning to pester the Bruins with their forecheck. That they hardly used the 1-3-1 is only mildly surprising.

As I mentioned to you on Twitter, I am a full-blown converter to the House of Hedman after just watching the first two periods of Game 1. Victor Hedman seems like he’s always in position, he uses his reach, he puts his body on the line to stop pucks and hits like a ton of bricks.

In fact, the entire D corps – minus Tyler Seguin’s new butler Mike Lundin – was really sound. There’s so much talk about Dwayne Roloson but how about Eric Brewer’s value to this team? Would the Lightning be here without that guy? (A guy who I wanted the Bruins to consider ahead of Tomas Kaberle along with three or four other guys, but I digress…)

JJ: First of all, I can’t tell you how relieving it is for you to at least only categorize the non-exclusive employment of the 1-3-1 as a “mild” surprise. That shows you allowed for some variation to occur, which gives you roughly 237 points more than the Versus crew on my scorecard, as they showed their collective arse a little after game one, in seeming shocked at some aggression from the Tampa forecheck. As head coach Guy Boucher reminded the masses postgame, sometimes they use it in full force, sometimes they don’t. It’s a staple of the system and a comfortable fallback, for sure, but it can also be a situational strategy.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Opposing Viewpoint: Kalman on Game 1, Kaberle Struggles, Seguin’s Playoff Debut (and ‘Stache Power?)

Throughout the Eastern Conference Final, Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog.net and I will be providing some insight from our respective sides with reaction to each game result and a look to what’s ahead via a series of Q&As.

In our latest session, Matt responds to my queries on the disappointing game one result for Boston, Tomas Kaberle’s struggles, Tyler Seguin’s playoff debut and even the power of Rene Rancourt’s mustache!


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.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

He Asked, I Answered: On Boucher’s Intensity, Bergenheim’s Emergence and Hedman’s Development

After launching our Eastern Conference Final allied coverage with an in-depth series preview on Tuesday, Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog.net stepped up yesterday to lead off our ongoing series of Q&As that will hit before and/or after each game between the Lightning and Bruins.

Today, my first set of responses to his questions runs in its entirety over at his site. Here’s a sneak peek at that line of questioning:

MK: Before I get started, Jon, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this little collaboration during the Eastern Conference Final. It’s been 19 years since the Bruins made it this far and I know my readers are as eager to know more about Tampa Bay as they are to read about their hometown team.

JJ: My pleasure, Matt - and likewise to you. Collaborating with other writers, whose work I hold in the highest regard, is something I always look forward to. The readers seem to appreciate the opposing perspective, as do I.

For this particular series, with a shot at playing for the Cup on the line, the intensity level is going to be through the roof. Perhaps our banter back and forth will catch a little of that fire. (Careful, though. I come in elbows-up!) However it all turns out, hopefully, the masses will come away entertained and informed…

MK: So, here are three questions for you before this series finally gets started Saturday:

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Opposing Viewpoint: Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog on Bergeron, Chara and Victor (or Anton?) Hedman

At long last, the Boston/Tampa Bay Eastern Conference Final is nearly upon us.

While we broke down the series in serious depth the other day (and made predictions for which my popularity rating has surely plummeted yet again), that was only the tip of the iceberg, as far as the collaborative efforts Matt Kalman of TheBruinsBlog.net and I will be putting forth for the upcoming Bruins/Lightning showdown.

Kicking things off with in fine fashion tonight is Mr. Kalman stepping in to address some conversation-starters I tossed in his direction.

Later on tonight, or perhaps tomorrow morning, I’ll post a link to my return fire to some hot topics on his mind as well.

Have a look and stick with us from the opening faceoff in the series until the handshakes in the finale (which each of us expects to come exactly seven games from now…)


JJ: First off, Matt, allow me to extend my appreciation for your joining forces with someone from enemy territory to cover opposing angles in this series.

It made for some unique material in round one when I worked with FromThePoint.com’s Brian Metzer and was met with overwhelmingly positive responses. (So, I guess, in a way, pressure’s on, bud!)

MK: Well, in past years this would be a spot for a joke about the Bruins and crumbling under the pressure. But this is a different year and a new era. So I’ll just thank you for letting me a part of this getting TheBruinsBlog.net some more exposure. I’m looking forward to a great series.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

From Alternating Perspectives, a Comprehensive Tampa Bay/Boston Eastern Conference Final Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning may be a bigger surprise participant than the Boston Bruins as an Eastern Conference Final participant and most pundits will undoubtedly give the Bruins the edge in the upcoming showdown between the two but these two clubs have followed an eerily similar path to get to where they are today.


Identical regular season records of 46-25-11 for 103 points.

Seven-game battles in the opening round of the playoffs necessitating significant comebacks, with Boston down 2-0 to begin their series with Montreal and Tampa Bay having to rally back from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh.

Clean, four-game sweeps of their higher-seeded second round opponents in Philadelphia for the Bruins and top-seeded Washington for the Lightning.

The stage, then, is set for breaking down a series between two teams that will each pose the biggest threat the other has seen to this point, with a shot to vie for the Stanley Cup on the line.

From a position-by-position view, to kick off our collaboration on the upcoming series, here’s how this one shapes up, in the eyes of myself on the Lightning side of things and of TheBruinsBlog.net’s Matt Kalman from a Boston perspective:

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Long Wait Soon Over: Make Your ECF Prediction Here

Anyone else feel like the Tampa Bay Lightning have enjoyed a mini-off-season of sorts lately?

Granted, it’s only been five days since the Bolts disposed of the Washington Capitals with the big broom of death, completing the four-game sweep at the St. Pete Times Forum last Wednesday to reach the Eastern Conference Final (and granteder, any kind of rest would do wonders for any team at this time of year) but, still, the first two rounds were quite the whirlwind and after a head-spinning couple of weeks, in all honesty, it’s been nice to have a little down time.

That’s all over for the Lightning, who returned to practice yesterday and hit the ice again today (with the addition of forward Simon Gagne, albeit in a red, non-contact jersey, now expected to be back for game one).

And it’s all over for yours truly as well as we’re close enough now to the start of the series for a comprehensive preview to post aaaaaaaaany time now and for game-by-game coverage to resume in short order, to boot.

With that, I’ll remind you of the upcoming collaboration with Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog, who is working with me on the series preview and will be joining forces throughout the series for alternating Q&A sessions not unlike those I had the pleasure of doing with From the Point‘s Brian Metzer in round one.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Bruins Present a Stiff Test for Lightning With a Shot at the Cup Final on the Line

The Pittsburgh Penguins understood the distinction between regular season and playoff hockey. They just didn’t have the firepower to finish off the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Washington Capitals had all kinds of firepower at the ready but still haven’t mastered the “next level” aspect of the postseason. That their offensive arsenal never fired in unison only exacerbated their issues resulting in a clean semifinal sweep by the Bolts.

Now, with their opponent for the Eastern Conference Final officially set in the Boston Bruins, the Lightning will face their stiffest competition yet.

Boston has both the guns and the gusto, as well as a feel for the pulse of the playoffs.

Not that Pittsburgh and Washington weren’t (because it can be argued that both previous playoff adversaries for the Lightning, particularly the latter, underachieved to a certain extent in their respective series) but the Bruins are dangerous.

And they possess the primo crease-keeper in all the NHL, in the eyes of many.

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Filed in: Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Breaking Down Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay (and Other Round One Predictions)

Every year around this time, in writing this very piece, I usually begin with something along the lines of, “I swore I’d never make playoff predictions again.” For starters, everybody does it and I usually try my best to steer clear of being just like the rest of ‘em. But more than that, my repeated attempts to avoid postseason prognostication stem from my overwhelming lack of accuracy in years past. (The postseason underachievers of the world have drawn my ire time and again. San Jose, you still top my poop list for that reason.)

But worse than my failure to pick a set of winners that resembles anything close to accuracy is my perennial failure to avoid picking altogether.

Something always draws me in.

And now, I realize, I’m powerless to fight it. I’ll make my picks here today, do so again round after round and I’ll do it again next year (and the year after that, and so on and so forth). Might as well be honest with myself…

This year, the allure is in the series that will remain my primary focus, Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh. I have to admit, it’s still a bit surreal to see the hometown Bolts actually in the Stanley Cup playoffs. After the last two seasons of uncertainty, four seasons overall since their last playoff game and even despite the regular season success they managed early and often this year, the fact that exit medicals and getaway interviews haven’t already been conducted is still a bit of a walk through bizzarro-world for me. Better get over that, I suppose… The Lightning certainly aren’t thinking that way.

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Filed in: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

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