Monday, May 23, 2011

Eastern Conference Finals - Game Five

While everyone has been pounding Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle in the media after game four, I will be the first to defend him. When he first came to Boston before the trade deadline everyone was praising this guy and for good reason. He has 445 career assists and 235 of those have come on the power play. We all knew that he was going to be solid on the power play and that was the main reason why Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli went out and got him. Lets face it, he was spending just as much time on the ice as Zdeno Chara. People forget too easily. They want him out of the playoff lineup and out of Boston when the season is over? It is unfortunate how fans have such low confidence in the players that got their team where they are now.

Since that subject has been brought up, another player that has been criticized in the media is Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. He said that the Bruins would win game five and win the series. Is that so wrong to believe in your team? Yes the first line has to start playing better and yes the power play has to get going, but Thomas knows that he may never get an opportunity like this again in his career and he hoped that his teammates would back him up tonight in game five.

The first period was absolutely terrible for the Bruins. They were out-shot by the Lightning 14-4 and they went a span of almost 12 minutes without a shot on goal. It was evident that the Lightning were the quicker team in the opening period. The Bruins only seemed to care about delivering hits on their opposition. The only goal scored in the period came at 1:09 into the game when Simon Gagne (TB) shot the puck past Tim Thomas on a pass from Steven Stamkos. You would think that Boston would have gotten more shots on a goalie that they put up eight goals against earlier this season in Mike Smith (TB). He also was sent down to the minor leagues at one point this season. Are you kidding me?

The Bruins began the second period on the penalty kill because Nathan Horton (BOS) got called for an interference penalty on Nate Thompson (TB) at the end of the first period. The Bruins killed it off, but Horton got called again for the same penalty a couple of minutes later. This was irony at its finest for what was about to happen next. Nathan Horton scored the tying goal off of a face-off win by David Krejci. Later on in the period, Brad Marchand put Boston on top by scoring his sixth goal of the playoffs. Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara had the assists. That goal was huge for the rookie because he had not had a great series so far with numerous turnovers and not enough production. For the remainder of the period the teams focused more on the physical play as opposed to playing hockey. Either way, the Bruins had the lead at the end of two periods by a score of 2-1.

The third period was all about defense for Boston. Defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg played solid as the Bruins top blue line pair averaged nearly 30 minutes of ice time each. Chara was even involved on the power play by shielding Lightning goaltender Mike Smith. However, the story of the game was Tim Thomas. Arguably, the Bruins would not have even made it this far if it was not for his presence between the pipes and the same could be said about him tonight. He made key saves as Tampa Bay was putting serious pressure on him. In the end, the Bruins held off the Lightning and Rich Peverley (BOS) added an empty net goal. The Bruins won game five by a score of 3-1 and lead the Eastern Conference finals three games to two. Game six will be Wednesday night down in Tampa Bay.

Late in the third period, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a huge hit against the boards from Steve Downie and left the game. He was seen at the end of the game on the ice with the rest of his teammates. Hopefully that sign will indicate that he should be cleared to play in game six.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (33 saves on 34 shots, 1 goal allowed, .971 save percentage).

Black Star: Milan Lucic...he did have an assist tonight but he still has not played up to his potential. He was the leading goal scorer for the Bruins in the regular season. I would say just give him time, but time is running out.

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