Kukla's Korner

He Asked, I Answered (ECF Vol. 6): On Roloson/Smith, Downie/Boychuk and Game 6 Keys for Tampa

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 today’s Q&A, I give my take on Lightning head coach Guy Boucher going from Dwayne Roloson to Mike Smith for Game 5 (and now back to Roli for Game 6), touch on the Steve Downie hit on Johnny Boychuk, identify a key ingredient for Tampa Bay’s success in Game 6 tonight and much more (including, of course, Boucher’s trademark laser beam eyes)...


MK: Well, well, well. Guy Boucher pulled a fast one on me and many of my colleagues – except Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe – and went with Mike Smith over Dwayne Roloson. I’ve got to admit, that takes some major cajones.

What did you think of the move? I though Smith played very well, but he lost. So will Boucher go back with him?

JJ: First of all, you’re not giving me any credit. As I’m sure you remember (and have only omitted in a concerted effort to screw with my head), I totally kinda sorta maybe somewhat called the start for Smith (a little) after Game 4. Whatever, Matt. I don’t even know you anymore. [MK note: Full credit is granted. Also this was answered before Boucher announced Roloson today for Game 6 start.]

But seriously… Yeah, some stones on Boucher, eh? In looking back, it simply shows confidence in each of his goaltenders but, had that blown up on him, Boucher would have been criticized to no end. On two occasions, I thought the hockey gods were clearly working against Boucher, Smith and the Lightning last night: One, on a Boston dump-in, when the puck took a funny bounce off of a stanchion and right out in front of Smith, which could have ricocheted in easily; and two, when Johnny Boychuk decided against ringing another dump-in around the boards and instead fired one in on Smith from just outside the blueline. Smitty didn’t see it right away and had to get a quick glove up on what seemed such a mundane play.

Either of those goes the other way and maybe that game does get away from Tampa Bay, making Boucher look foolish. But again, some stones! By not being intimidated about what might happen, a coach is able to go with his gut and, even though the Lightning lost the game, Smith did himself, his coach and his teammates proud.

If I had to guess, I’d say Boucher goes back to a rested Roloson now, who has never lost an elimination game. The Lightning can’t drop another, obviously, so you play the numbers there, and they add up to Roli. [MK note: Wow JJ, you’re inside Boucher’s head. Does he know about this? Are you truly the evil mastermind and he’s your puppet?]


For more of our latest back-and-forth, head over to TheBruinsBlog.net.

And now you can set your sights directly on what should be a classic in Game 6 tonight.

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


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