Bruins-Lightning update: Old Time(rs) Hockey for TT and Rollie
If someone came out of a time warp and tuned in Tuesday night to watch the Bruins beat the Lightning 6-5, they might have easily been convinced that they were witnessing a circa 80’s playoff game à la Edmonton Oilers. Not only were there goals aplenty, but ones that came as a result of breakaways, pretty passing and laser beam shooting rather than the standard bump-and-grind-it-out fare of the playoffs where checking is tighter and where often one can barely be seen for all the players jamming the shooting lanes.
In this second game the Bruins came out on top, with Tim Thomas staving off a frenetic comeback attempt by the Lightning in the dying minutes of the third. His game didn’t start out too well, as he was rung for a bad angle deflected goal at 13 seconds, and another on a poor angle five hole marker only seven seconds before the end of the period. Arguably less than solid, and perhaps a flashback to the first two games of the Montreal series, where Thomas seemed to struggle early on before turning the tables on the Habs’ snipers.
Speaking of Montreal, many hockey fans in la belle province have adopted the Lightning as the team of choice, seeing as their coach is Guy Boucher and 2/3 of their superstar quotient up front is French Canadian (plus the fact that the Bruins have been the enemy in Montreal since the days when handlebar mustaches and spats were the rage). Meanwhile, even though he is not a goalie expert, former bench boss and current TV analyst Michel Bergeron had this critique of the goaltending performances in game 2:
Tim Thomas gave up 5 goals in game two and was weak on all 5. However, I must say that the Bruins’ goalie showed up when it counted, at the end of the game when it was 6-5. Thomas was brilliant. I think he stopped at least three breakaways to turn his performance around. There were saves on Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos and Martin St-Louis.
One of the two goalies will have to finally step up. Thomas was not the only one who had a difficult night. The same thing could be said of Dwayne Roloson, who was just average. Both goalies are over 40 (actually, Thomas is 37- ed.) and for Rolson, playing every second night isn’t easy. In game one the Lightning goalie faced 33 shots. For his sake I hope that game two was simply a bad game.
Is fatigue beginning to become a factor? With the kind of run and gun seen Tuesday night, any goalie is going to be feeling the heat (Thomas faced 41 shots and posted a 0.878 save percentage; Roloson was pulled after two periods and a 0.778 SP). But as in all things hockey, it is as much the quality of the chances as the quantity. Here is a look at two breakaway sequences and the particular way that the goalie handles each.
On Tyler Seguin’s spectacular breakaway goal (makes you wonder what Claude Julien was thinking keeping this guy in the pressbox for the first two rounds), Roloson seems to be thinking shot, as he aligns his body to the shooter’s stick (if you stop the video at the right moment you can see how far left of center he is before Seguin goes to deke right). When the backhand deke comes he tries to barrel roll like Dominik Hasek would, and it almost works out (this technique Rolson has used before, as documented in Ingoalmag). Had he been more centered in the net his chances of success would have increased.
To reiterate, if you were wondering where the move had its most famous origin, check this replay of Hasek stopping Lindros at the 1998 Olympics (as an aside, compare also the compact, erect and tight body position of Patrick Roy on the save before, and then watch Thomas’ save below):
On Ryan Malone’s breakaway early in the second frame, Tim Thomas displays an impressive amount of patience and guts, waiting out at the top of the blue ice while the attacking player skates in like a freight train at full speed. While Thomas does take the time to step out and create a bit of backward flow, when Malone arrives in position at the hash marks the Boston goalie is basically standing still on top of the crease, daring the shooter to try to go around him. Malone tries just that, and Thomas makes a cobra quick stab with the left leg, stretching out in a non-butterfly, sprawling, behind the body pad save. Maybe not textbook form, but a wonderful display of timing and explosiveness.