Game Three: Five Thoughts
Crash and bang pond hockey in game two.
1. The State of Patrice Bergeron. For two weeks, nearly all the commotion has revolved around this question, until two days ago, when Tyler Seguin became the talk of the town. Bergeron skated with the team this morning with contact at St Pete Times Forum. Sources close to the team and the Globe, as well as ESPN Boston, are reporting it’s a “go” for him to play. Even so, well he be sharp? Physically, I don’t doubt he will be. He has the training routine of an ox. Mentally, especially when it comes to his face-offs and defensive play, the two areas he is most direly needed, one has to wonder. Those are the most mental parts of the game, reading plays, completing the draws. But one has to think, this is Bergeron, and this is man that takes concussions very seriously. As much as there is pressure to return in the third round of the playoffs, he has been an outspoken advocate for concussion monitoring and treatment for some time now. He wouldn’t take that gamble and it’s not in keeping with who he is.
2. 1-3-1 back to life? One of the most noteworthy elements of game two was the total obliteration of the 1-3-1 system, or systems play in general, by the Bruins. During the second period Tampa was running ’round the ice ragged. There was no positional play, no rhyme, no reason. They completely collapsed. The Bruins both sparked and took advantage of this. But it seems almost invariable that the Lightning will snap back into form in game three. They will be calmer, more composed, in the face of adversity. They were able to muster a respectable rally in the third period of game two, after all. Guy Boucher wouldn’t allow for a repeat of their collapse.
3. Goaltending not the focus we thought it would be. Thomas had some outstanding saves, even though he was largely eclipsed by Seguin’s performance. Roloson had a rough night, no doubt about it. But he is an old enough and experienced enough goaltender that I suspect he’d bounce back. Thomas gets hot with momentum and back to back showings, so I think he’ll be turned on tonight.
4. Can the rookie do it again? He was already cleared to play yesterday. What a change for a kid who had no idea whether he’d be playing in the next game one minute to the next in stretches this season. What is so curious is the fact he bows to management with complete and utter fealty. Actually, it’s not curious, but it demonstrates a commitment to his team that is unrivaled for someone his age. Most 19 year-olds are fairly self-centered, and I speak from experiences. He’s been willing to completely sublimate himself for the sake of the team. In press interviews, he always refers to how he just “wants to be ready to play when they call on me.” He lives and dies by that. Surely, turning in an outstanding performance in these first two games has turned the tables a bit: he’s dictating the nature and course of his playing time, not them. But he still fully acknowledges that the decision rests in their hands. He’s a rookie. But this is wise stuff.
5. Road ice advantage. The Bruins have excelled on the road this season and during these playoffs. I expect more of that.