Kukla's Korner

He Asked, I Answered (ECF Vol. 7): On Bolts’ 5-on-5 Play, Goalie Struggles, Officiating & Chocolate!

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 final Q&A of the series (tear, weep, sob), I address Tampa Bay’s even strength play, Dwayne Roloson versus Mike Smith one last time, the supposed controversy surrounding referee Eric Furlatt and the Lightning and the secret of my success, dark chocolate M&Ms…

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MK: Now I know who the real “mind control” master in this series is: it’s you. You wrote that the Lightning’s “Big Three” had to come on strong in order to stave off elimination, and they did. Any chance you could tell a major newspaper or magazine to hire a writer who’s been self employed for the last 11 years?

Anyway, I asked you this after Game 4 and so I’ll do it again: can the Lightning do what they did in Game 6 again in Game 7 and take this series? Can the Lightning do anything 5-on-5 or will they need power play help to win?

JJ: To your first question, sure, I could press a big-time paper or magazine to staff such an individual but my mind control efforts to that end are going to be focused on melting the brains of someone who can finally make my dream of dumping the day job to go hockey full-time (as if it isn’t almost full-time already) for me. If I take care of that quickly enough this summer, I’ll jump into aiding your cause. (You were talking about yourself, no? Maybe you’re more of a humanitarian than I’m giving you credit for and are fighting the good fight for someone else. Hmm…) Submit a list of targets, so that I may study their thought patterns and identify weaknesses in the interim.

As for the Bolts, I don’t think it would be wise to head into Game 7 relying on power-play chances, nor do I think they’ll do so. Because they’ve proven capable of scoring at even strength in this series already.

Of the 19 (non-empty net) goals Tampa Bay has managed, 14 have come at even strength and five on the power play. Before Game 6, that ratio was 12-2. So, I think you have to look at the showing on Wednesday night as a bit of an aberration.

That being said, three power-play goals in any given game gives one team a damn good shot at winning and is almost a death knell for the other. Boston’s going to want to avoid penalty trouble at all costs, in my opinion, on the heels of what happened in Game 6. On the other side of things, the Lightning’s penalty kill has been great, still tops in the league at 92.3% and the Bruins are just 3-24 in this series with the man advantage. It’s cliché but special teams are key tonight and I would have to think that works against an aggressive Boston bunch – something they’ll have no choice but to work through.

The Lightning will obviously look to take advantage of any opportunities they get with the extra man but nobody’s leaning on any one aspect of their game to carry them at this point, I wouldn’t think.

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For the rest of our last Q&A on the series, head on over to TheBruinsBlog.net.

Matt and I will get together one more time once an Eastern Conference champ has been crowned with a collaborative look back at Game 7 and the series as a whole.

JJ
jj@kuklaskorner.com
JJ on Twitter

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

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