On Wednesday night the Boston Bruins escaped with a wild win over the Tampa Bay Lightning to tie their Eastern Conference Final series at one apiece. The 6-5 final score was more reminiscent of a Red Sox vs. Rays baseball game and probably leaves both coaching staffs with more questions than answers as the teams head south for Game 3.
For starters, Boston’s Brad Marchand wasn’t too happy with the way his team played with a three-goal lead late in the game. “We wanted to make sure we really buckled down defensively and that wasn’t really the case in the third [period],” Marchand said.
While scoring a half dozen goals against Dwayne Roloson and the Lightning is certainly a step in the right direction, Claude Julien’s Bruins need to make a number of improvements if they hope to win this series.
Much was made after Game 1 of Guy Boucher’s choice to have his players attack aggressively. The Lightning sat back in a 1-3-1 trap for most of their first two series against speedy squads from Pittsburgh and Washington, but they’ve abandoned the system so far in this series. We’re beginning to see why he made that decision.
The Bruins knack for turnovers and slow transition game allows Tampa to be much more aggressive and it’s been paying off. Just seconds into the game Mark Recchi turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Tampa’s Adam Hall gave his team a 1-0 lead before fans had even settled into their seats.
Boston lit up the scoreboard on the offensive end in response, but their careless turnovers won’t result in many wins at this time of year.
Breakaway after breakaway against Tim Thomas. Casual passes into the middle of the ice with no intended recipient. A seeming inability to make the smart or safe play under duress.
Claude Julien doesn’t need to create a masterful game-plan to beat Boucher and the Lightning. He needs to get his team to focus on fundamentals. Having a veteran like Recchi in the room will go a long way towards getting the team focused to win Game 3 on the road.
“We know if we’re going to go to Tampa and win some road games we’re going to have to be a lot better,” Recchi said. “Hopefully we can do what we’ve been doing all year on the road and that’s play well and play a good simple game.”
Keep it simple. Sometimes easier said than done.