May 15, 2011

Bruins know what they have to fix for Game 2

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas allowed four goals on 33 shots in Game 1. (Getty)

BOSTON -- At the end of the day in sports, the final score is what matters most. The Boston Bruins weren't just beaten in Game 1 by the Lightning, they were defeated decisively.

But the Black and Gold, sufferers of a 5-2 setback on Saturday night at TD Garden in the opener of their conference finals series, can breathe a sigh of relief that there are reasons to remain positive.

"I think we played a decent game besides those mistakes we had," said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who agreed the tilt was similar to their Game 1 loss against Montreal a month ago. "We had chances. When we had the puck in their end, we showed signs of offense but we just have to be better in our areas."

The Bruins became unraveled midway through the opening frame as Tampa Bay tallied thrice in the span of just 85 seconds, not one of which was anywhere near highlight-reel quality, staking themselves to a stunning, 3-0 lead.

"I think those mistakes are mistakes that are easily correctable or you can correct easily, I should say," coach Claude Julien said. "Those are things that are uncharacteristic of our hockey club. Of the first three goals, I don’t feel that there was a good goal out of all of those things.

"A blind back pass, a backhand from a tough angle, and we lose a puck beside the net on our own. So is it really something that they did so well that created that? No, I think it’s more about us."

While two of Tampa's goals were the direct result of sub-par defensive play, Brett Clark's seeing-eye backhander was one goalie Tim Thomas undoubtedly wanted back. After playing so superbly over the previous nine games, the 37-year-old netminder had a rough night at the office on Saturday.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher doesn't expect a repeat performance from Boston's Vezina Trophy candidate.

"Tim Thomas is going to make miracles," Boucher said. "I would be shocked if he doesn’t come back with his best game of the playoffs.  They came back in the first series, from two games (down).  It’s only one game, we’ve done nothing yet." 

Boucher also foresees the Bruins getting Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup on Tuesday, 11 days after he suffered a concussion in Game 4 against Philadelphia.

Sans Bergeron, the B's went 0-for-4 on the power play and won a woeful 39 percent of faceoffs in the game.

"Well I’ve said that before we even played the game that it’s so important to start with the puck," Julien said. "When you don’t win as many draws as you’re used to, you’re backpedaling a little bit. We know how quickly they counter. It certainly didn’t help our game tonight."

Starting with the puck would undoubtedly give Boston more time to operate in Tampa's zone, allowing them the opportunity to get more traffic in front of Dwayne Roloson and fire more pucks on net.

"We would obviously like to get more," defenseman Zdeno Chara said of ramping up the pressure on Roloson. "Some better shots, better traffic. He did a good job tonight and he saw most of the shots. We tried. Obviously no goalie likes the traffic. We just have to find a way to keep doing that and getting to the rebounds."

But despite all that went wrong and the all the areas in which they can improve, the Bruins know that Saturday's setback -- no matter how lopsided -- only counts as one loss.

"It’s a first-game loss," Chara said. "Obviously it’s not a perfect world. Every team we play they are obviously going to be a good opponent and we need to get ready for game two."