Kukla's Korner

Opposing Viewpoint: Kalman on Pointless Seguin (Noooo!), Boston’s Fast Start, Cheerleaders(?) & 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 takes on my tough questions on such topics as - gasp! - Tyler Seguin not scoring even a single point in game three, Boston’s fast start and ability to stymie the Lightning attack, systematic advantages and, yes, “cheerleaders”, as he so irresponsibly calls them.

***

JJ: In an effort to provide a little levity for my Lightning fan friends out there, well kick things off in lighthearted fashion here today, so as not to overwhelm the masses.

Apparently, the off-ice officials are not as impressed with Tyler Seguin as the rest of the free world. Clearly, he scored Boston’s second goal last night with his mind and yet, here we are, looking at the final score sheet, where they’ve changed it to correctly reflect Andrew Ference as the goal-scorer.

Haters? Or might Seguin have his very own Lex Luthor residing right here in Tampa (or, perhaps, up there in the Toronto war room)?

MK: Everything is Seguin. He’s so fast that the back wind from him skating toward the net blew the puck in through Dwayne Roloson’s 5-hole. Or maybe it was the shock that overcame Roloson at the sight of Seguin going to the net that made the puck trickle in. Regardless, there’s obviously an anti-Seguin population out there that controls the war room and the final stats sheet. There are plenty of people in Boston today that probably think Seguin not only scored that goal but the one credited to David Krejci as well.

Regardless, isn’t it amazing the Bruins were able to win without getting a single point from their teenaged superstar? Wow, that Patrice Bergeron guy looked pretty good. Maybe the team should sign him to a long-term deal oh yeah, they did already. Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas, though, are obviously too old and untested to lead a suffocating defense. Oh wait, that was them out there, huh? I guess there’s more to this team than Seguin. But if all the talk about the rookie did anything to distract the Lightning from their task of stopping everyone else, shame on them.

JJ: Okay, okay. We’ll get serious here for a minute. This game, save for a first period that was still a bit too loosey goosey for the Lightning’s liking, was more like what I think we were both expecting in this series: Tight checking, solid goaltending at both ends and, as Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher relayed, a matter of one team making that lethal mistake. The Lightning filled that role just a minute and change in and were never able to get one past Thomas into the Boston net.

With a lift from the early goal, the Bruins had the jump on the Bolts from the start and, obviously, Thomas did his part at the other end but what did you see as keys to Boston’s needing just that one goal in this one (before Ference’s insurance marker, of course)?

MK: It’s called my system beats your system. Everyone in the mass media was so in love with the 1-3-1, they forgot the Bruins forecheck and zone defense in their own that was pretty good for most of the season second in the league in team defense, if I recall that far back.

When Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are logging nearly 30 minutes each, and doing it at the top of their game, they have to earn consideration for top-five D pairs in the league. It’s hard to believe they hadn’t played together for a while before the middle of the first-round Montreal series. Then you mix in an unheralded Ference and a much-improved Tomas Kaberle, and suddenly the Bruins D corps doesn’t resemble the cast of F Troop as much anymore.

It all starts with Chara, but the system is huge. When the Bruins defensemen stick to it, keep guys wide, support each and make quick decisions to move the puck up ice or to one another, it’s hard to beat. Especially when the rare time you get a scoring opportunity you have to get the puck past Thomas.

JJ: Some of the Lightning players spoke after the game of needing to find something in between what they managed in the wild and whacky game two and in game three, where they couldn’t come through on anything offensively but were much more sound on the defensive end (save for Brett Clark and his six giveaways, that is. Yikes.)

Having seen Tampa Bay have success in game one, then watch their structure go out the window in game two and, now, muster a big, fat goose egg in game three, what have the Bruins been able to do to turn things around and take a 2-1 lead in the series, on the heels of two distinctly different wins. Is there anything at all that sticks out as a primary factor for the turnaround?

MK: Well, the biggest turnaround is obviously what I talked about above with the defensive structure. But then you have to marvel at what Patrice Bergeron’s return does to the Bruins lineup. Obviously they didn’t have him in Game 2. I think everyone can agree Thomas basically won that game (strange for a 6-5 final), which was basically a coin flip with all the run-and-gun antics.

But with Bergeron back up front, and Seguin still competing when he wasn’t saving the world, the Bruins lineup finally resembled what general manager Peter Chiarelli made his trades near the deadline in the aftermath of Marc Savard’s latest injury. Four solid centers, speedy wings with some finish and then the defense/goaltending that’s been a cornerstone of the franchise for a few years.

No knock on Shawn Thornton, a heart-and-soul guy who has done everything he’s capable of to help the team, but with Rich Peverley on the fourth line, all four Bruins lines are now a threat to score. So while Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund might be a nice No. 1 pair, and Victor Hedman might be coming on strong, the Lightning really have a tough time matching up against the total package the Bruins front line has become.

Of course, anyone that’s watched even a handful of Bruins games this season knows it’s not always like it was in Game 3. In addition to a loss of structure on D, the Bruins can often lose their offensive work ethic like in Game 1and make you scratch your head and say, “Are these the same guys that scored all those goals against Philly and six times in Game 2?” So we’ll see if they can maintain their focus, continue to live in the moment and push through this series rather than giving the Lightning life.

JJ: BONUS QUESTION: I couldn’t help but notice, sitting just a few seats down from you in the St. Pete Times Forum press box, that you seemed a bit distracted throughout the game. Did the EPCOT-esque laser light pregame bonanza throw you off? Have you already started looking ahead to the postgame concert from Cheap Trick after Saturdays game four? Or were you just having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that Seguin was held completely off the score sheet?

MK: Two words: hockey cheerleaders. [JJ Note: Can’t argue there - but they’re called “Lightning Girls”. Get it right!]

***

More from Matt and I later today, when my answers to his latest post over at TheBruinsBlog.net.

JJ
jj@kuklaskorner.com
JJ on Twitter

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

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