The effort tonight was undeniably better than in game one. More than two guys showed up, the faceoff circle was a good place to be, and the team showed a ton of drive and desire.
Despite not scoring Lucic had a pretty good game, 2 hits, five shots on goal and solid positional play. Thomas Kaberle was nearly invisible, which probably means he’s played his best game in a month, and picked up two assists, he did also have two giveaways. Chara was uncharacteristically exposed on a the Stamkos goal when he was stripped by Hall at center ice, and Stamkos made Boychuck look bush league in beating both the defender and Thomas. Overall, you couldn’t want anything more offensively of the team, they chased Dwayne Roloson and were twice successful on the powerplay. Defensively the game is in the most generous terms I can muster a great learning opportunity.
While Tyler Seguin unquestionably had an enormous game that was exciting to watch, critical to the teams success and the the type of play we were all hoping for even before he was drafted, there are factors that play into it that should cause you to curb your enthusiasm. First and most obvious is that Seguin is the best rested player on either team save for Tukka Rask. He hasn’t played a game in several weeks. That means bruises, sprains and strains are at a minimum and energy is at its peak. Next up is the quality of opposition. While Roloson is a top shelf goalie, he doesn’t play in a vacuum. The defensive unit in front of him is subpar. Even with Roloson having a couple shutouts after being traded south, the Tampa Bay Lightning were 21st in the league for goals allowed. By comparison the Flyers were eleventh, and the Canadiens were 8th. They are also not nearly as physical as the Flyers or Canadiens. While the hits stat is flawed, on the regular season the Flyers finished 10th, and even the Habs who lost most of their physicality to injuries finished above the Lightning. I think the idea he could have been doing the same thing in the first two rounds, is generously speaking suspect.
All that said, if Patrice Bergeron is ready to go next game, I wouldn’t sit Seguin, he doesn’t deserve it. I’d put either Paille who played less time than any other forward this game, or Peverley who is a -3 with just one shot on goal this series on the shelf. With the number of minutes Krejci played tonight I wouldn’t be surprised to see his minutes below average in the next game if Bergeron is back.
Thursday night in Tampa Bay, watch or waste three hours, your call.