by Jon Jordan on 05/18/11 at 11:35 PM ET
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.
Both coaches expressed their displeasure with their team’s defensive play. And frankly, as exciting as it was, it was a little hard on my eyes. But I’m a pitcher’s duel sort of guy to being with.
Aside from Seguin, I want to go back to Thomas. Is there any doubt that this guy is one of the most resilient in sports? His play last night was a microcosm for his whole career. I’d have to think there are some coaches that might’ve pulled him, even if just to switch some momentum when the Lightning go to the first intermission up 2-1. But Julien knows what he has. And even when the Bruins’ defense decided to mail in the third period, there’s the two-time Vezina winner – yes, that second one is his already – making ridiculous stops and only giving up goals on a snipe by Steven Stamkos and a puck off his mask-less face. He’s amazing.
JJ: I can’t say I didn’t expect a split as the series heads to Tampa (after all, I did pick the Lightning in seven and, at least in terms of series length, this has that kind of start). But, in looking back at each individual game, I’m led to distinctly different conclusions.
Game one has me thinking the Lightning have a clear-cut edge in the ever-important intangibles department, to go with their all-world talent.
Game two leaves me with the idea that, with Patrice Bergeron added to the mix, the same Bruins who put a sixer up against a defensively sound Bolts club might just run away with the series with all that he brings to the table.
If you put the two tilts together and weigh what each team did well against what they did wrong, in your opinion, who comes out on top as things are now set for a best-of-five? [And, please, feel free to throw this one back my way. Only fair…]
MK: Well, as my readers and I know, the Bruins that you see one night can greatly differ from the ones you see the next night. Sure, on paper Bergeron rejoining the fray could turn the team that scored six goals in Game 2 into an uber-offense that will chase Roloson all the way to Busch Gardens. But as we know, even in the playoffs Ryder tends to only emerge as an offensive weapon once every couple weeks. You never know what you’re going to get from most of the other forwards, including the “New Kid on the Block.” The Bruins under Julien thrive on adversity and sometimes spit up when presented with prosperity. Plus, can Tampa Bay play any worse than that Game 2 performance? I thought the Lightning dress seven D … looked more like they left them all at the hotel.
There’s only one guarantee, and I’m sure it goes for Tampa Bay as much as for Boston – there will be a marked improvement in the defensive play. I would expect Zdeno Chara, as he’s wont to do, to come out with a bur in his saddle to make up for his worst, healthy performance of the postseason. Johnny Boychuk should come back with a vengeance after assisting on more Lightning goals than Bruins scores. And the rest of the corps should tighten things up, limit the odd-man chances and back off the attack a little bit in doing so.
If they don’t, Thomas might have a right to sue them.
JJ: He had the early goal to knot things up but I thought Nathan Horton really put himself in position to be a goat in game two, taking two awful penalties, each at an equally inopportune time, one with the score tied late in the first and the other with the Lightning down two midway through the third. Tampa wasn’t able to capitalize on either power play but, still, Horton has to be smarter in both of those situations, as I’m sure you’d agree.
Is this a constant struggle for him or did he get wrapped up in the intensity of a huge game? Inexcusable to me - and he got lucky, twice… You agree?
MK: Nathan Horton has a permanent smile. But it’s more like a Charles Manson smile, as we’ve grown to learn because behind that friendly front on the ice, he’s an unleashed junkyard dog (cue “Grab Them Cakes”). And yes, he could turn out to be a detriment to the team if he doesn’t find the line between aggression and stupidity.
I wrote earlier this week that Lucic has to tone down his act with the extracurricular activities that could put him in the box or on the sidelines. Horton is another culprit, but his incidents haven’t been as numerous. Nonetheless, it’s apparent that Dominic Moore gets under Horton’s skin almost as much as Dion Phaneuf (those two fought twice this season). And Horton never reveals what the beef is about, so we’re just left to speculation that it has something to do with his wife being a Playboy Playmate (we can only hope it’s that funny).
Basically, here’s a guy that coasted through seven years in Florida and by the middle of this season looked like a zombie wearing a spoked ‘B.’ Then something clicked. Again, he won’t say what made him see the light. He once joked that it was too much Red Bull. Horton’s new-found drive has been a huge benefit more than it’s hurt the Bruins. Obviously, though, at this stage of the season, and with the Lightning possessing such a ridiculously potent power play, he might want to turn the other cheek at some point. I’m sure the coaching staff has addressed this matter.
All right, man. I’ll see you at the St. Pete Times Forum tomorrow night. Now I’m going to go breathe in some of that sweet, summer air that seemingly is never going to make its way to the Northeast.
JJ: Indeed you will. Now get on outside and get you a good sweat on in that sweet air of which you speak. You need to take advantage of it while you can before heading back to the muck and suck that is the Northeast weather of late…
Stay tuned tomorrow morning for my answers to Matt’s latest inquiries and more throughout the day as we get set for a pivotal game three in a wildly entertaining series thus far.
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