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Cullen: Bruins' understudy Seguin takes starring role

Scott Cullen
5/18/2011 12:29:19 AM
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Tyler Seguin's performance in Game Two called into question why he hadn't been playing through the first two series and why he played so little (9:38) in Game One, despite scoring two points on Boston's two goals.

Well, the 19-year-old turned in a game for the ages, scoring two goals and two assists -- all in the second period -- making him the first teenager to have four points in an NHL playoff game since Trevor Linden put up a goal and three assists against Calgary in 1989.

After he buried his second goal of the game, at 6:30 of the second period, Seguin had tallied three goals in 14:44 of ice time in the playoffs, one goal for every 4 minutes and 45 seconds of ice time.

His speed provided a change of pace for the Bruins, who tend towards using their power in a more plodding, physical style. Seguin is a game-breaker and is making the most of his opportunity.

Curiously, Seguin also found himself on the ice in the final minutes of the game, with the Bruins protecting a one-goal lead.

But, with Gregory Campbell and Dan Paille on for Tampa Bay's fifth goal and enforcer Shawn Thornton sitting for most of the game, unless they were going to drop to two lines, the Bruins effectively had to go with a teenager that, to this point, was considered too risky defensively to have in the lineup at all.

Seguin's linemate Michael Ryder had a three-point game as well, giving him six points in the last five games, but also snapping an eight-game goalless streak.

It was a star-making performance for Seguin; the question for Boston coach Claude Julien now is how will Seguin be fit into the lineup when Patrice Bergeron is deemed ready to return to action for the Bruins?

Power forward Nathan Horton had a very eventful game for the Bruins, scoring a goal and two assists, giving him 13 points in the first 13 playoff games of his career, while providing a physical presence with a game-high seven hits (along with a couple of ill-timed penalties).
 
Aside from Seguin's breakout, there were a couple of stunning developments in this game. First, the Bruins scored two power play goals -- a feat that Boston had accomplished once in the last 48 games going into Game Two.

Nearly as surprising, the Bruins got two assists out of Tomas Kaberle, something he had done once in the last 38 games prior to Game Two and Kaberle is playing a whole lot less now than he was even three weeks ago.

Part of the improvement on the Boston power play, aside from allowing Seguin to participate a little, was that they initiated a lot of quick shots, without taking a lot of time to set up, which also meant not allowing the defence to get positioned too.

Defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, in particular, was effective in his power play role and he contributed a couple of assists in the game.

After getting dominated in the face-off circle in Game One, the Bruins turned the tables in Game Two, thanks in large part to Rich Peverley, who won 15 of 20 draws.

While Seguin was the story of the game for Boston, Tim Thomas was a story too, making several spectacular saves, then allowing several shaky goals.

Thomas had trouble finding the puck on Tampa Bay's first and last goals, and allowed a stoppable Vincent Lecavalier blast to get through him for the Lightning's third goal, yet Thomas also made a number of point-blank saves, including several after the Lightning had cut the lead to one late in the third period.

In some ways, the game could have been a microcosm of Thomas' career. The good was outstanding and the bad was downright awful and the good outweighed the bad by just enough in Game Two.

Thomas has allowed nine goals total in back-to-back games, something he hadn't done since November, 2009.

At the other end, it's possible that the odds finally caught up to Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was leading the NHL playoffs with a .941 save percentage before Game Two, when he was yanked from the net in favour of Mike Smith after allowing six goals on 27 shots in the first two periods.

Lecavalier had quite a game in a losing effort, tallying four points; the first four-point playoff game of his illustrious career. His 16 points also ties his playoff career-high set, not surprisingly, in 2003-2004, when the Lightning won the Cup.

Steven Stamkos has a strong game as well, tallying three points and a game-high seven shots on goal.

Checker Adam hall also contributed a goal and an assist to the Lightning cause. It was his first two-point game since October, 2007.

While the Bruins have to feel good about equalizing the series -- it's certainly better than the alternative -- the Lightning threw a lot at them and had the Bruins scrambling right until the end, outshooting Boston 30-17 in the last two periods and 41-35 overall.

Even in losing Game Two, the Lightning served notice that they're going to use their speed to keep pressuring the Bruins and if it continues to cause problems for the Boston defence, the pressure will be on Thomas to make the crucial saves.

Going to Tampa Bay for Game Three, the Bruins might hope to have Patrice Bergeron back, but they're going to need better performances from Thomas, and the defence in front of him, if Boston is going to experience some road success in this series.




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