THN’s Take: The Boston Bruins haven’t just won two games in the series, they’ve won two different ways.
After combining for 18 goals over the first two river-hockey contests, Boston and Tampa both clamped down during the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Game 3. The B’s are starting to separate themselves from Tampa, as it’s becoming increasingly apparent that when both clubs are at their best, Boston is just a little bit better.
After missing the first two games with concussion-related issues, Patrice Bergeron returned and immediately re-asserted himself as a big presence in the lineup. He won the game’s opening faceoff and went on to win 64 percent of the draws he took. His prowess at the dot helps Boston control the puck and dictate the terms of the game.
Tampa is a team that thrives by kicking in the door when the opposition provides a crack of daylight, but Zdeno Chara’s large shadow kept the Bolts’ skill players in check all night. Tampa’s defense is starting to buckle under the pressure of Boston’s deep set of forwards and that trend will only be exacerbated as the series wears on.
You have to wonder if Tampa coach Guy Boucher can continue to regularily run out Marc-Andre Bergeron, who’s having a real tough time defensively on the blueline.
1. Tim Thomas – You know the Bruins’ never-by-the-book stopper is on when he’s making saves after completing a 360-degree spin in the crease, as he did in the first period of this game. Thomas got his first shutout of the post-season after looking shaky in Game 2.
2. David Krejci – Not to be out done by Bergeron, Krejci picked Tampa pockets an incredible 72 percent of the time in the faceoff circle. Boston’s top-line center is really driving the bus right now, netting 11 points in his past seven games.
3. Zdeno Chara – The big man took down Tampa’s top line all night.
The Black Hole
Steven Stamkos – With Vinny Lecavalier’s line drawing the attention of Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, Steven Stamkos has got to step up and produce against the B’s lesser blueliners. This may be his first foray into the post-season, but the kid has got to do more of what he’s capable of, which is bury goals.
The NHL Game Night Recap will get you caught up with all the playoff action. THN will name our Three Stars for each game and tabulate the results after each series. First Star = three points, Second Star = two points, Third Star = one point.