Let’s face it, if Claude Giroux hadn’t laid a devastating hit on Patrice Bergeron in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Tyler Seguin would still be sitting in the press box.
Instead, Bergeron sat beside Marc Savard as the two watched the No. 2 overall pick in the draft dazzle the crowd and befuddle Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Where would this series be if Bergeron hadn’t gotten hurt?
More than likely, they would be up, 2-0. There. I said it.
Seguin has had an impressive start to his playoff career, but this team is still better with a healthy Bergeron in the lineup. Bergeron is the most complete player on the team, a terrific two-way player who often does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. The Bruins not only lost a lot of talent and 12 points through 11 playoff games, but a lot of hockey know how as well.
What’s more, Claude Julien was forced to alter his lines, including breaking up the incredibly successful third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, which carried the team offensively through much of the first round against Montreal. Bergeron’s linemates Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi had a combined seven goals and 11 assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-9. Since they have been centered by Kelly and Peverley in a game apiece, neither has recorded a point. Marchand is minus-3, while Recchi is minus-4 in the conference semifinals.
No doubt Seguin has put on a show, but there is a reason why he didn’t play in the first two series and it goes beyond the fact he had one point in his last 19 regular season games. The 19-year-old has immense offensive talent, but proved not to have the stamina to withstand a season-long NHL pounding and has not shown an ability to play consistent two-way hockey.
An unfortunate incident gave him his shot and he’s running with it with some heroics, but overall, in the long run, the team would have been better served to have Bergeron healthy.
Luckiest injury in playoff history? No way. Luckiest injury for Tyler Seguin? You bet.
Series saved by Thomas!
As much praise as the Bruins offense is getting, it can be forgotten that probably the reason why the Bruins are not down 0-2 is because of the efforts of Tim Thomas, who put in maybe the most spectacular efforts by a goaltender than has given up five regulation time goals in hockey history.
Thomas rebounded from a lackluster Game 1 with a stand-on-your head performance in a Game 2 that more resembled a no rules pond hockey game than an NHL playoff contest.
Did he allow a couple softies? Yes, he did. But at the same time, he made some very big saves when they were needed most, including in the final seconds of the game as the Lightning made a last-ditch effort to send it to overtime.
Allowing nine goals in the past two games has ballooned Thomas’ postseason goals allowed average to 2.39. Yep. Just 2.39. Considering he’s posted a career 2.26 GAA against Tampa Bay and has been sparkling on the road this year (4-1 in these playoffs, 17-6, 2.15 GAA in the regular season on the road), don’t expect another five goal game.