Bruins notes: Top line's an offensive no-show

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Bruins notes: Top line's an offensive no-show

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA Milan Lucic and David Krejci did the big damage on Thursday night in Game Three with a nifty play in the opening minutes, but they couldnt follow it up strongly.

Instead they were the ones taking on damage Saturday afternoon in a forgettable performance as Bostons top forward group that looked as listless, disinterested and defeated as theyve appeared since the Montreal series.

Krejci was slammed hard by Marc-Andre Bergeron in Game Two, and that seemed to have long-lasting effects for the Czech Republic playmaker as he attempted to push his team to a 3-1 advantage in the series.

Instead Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton combined for two shots on net and a minus-5 on the night with the center taking it on the chin via the stat sheet rather than a literal hit on the ice. The line's best threat of the day came in the third period when Lucic had a good portion of open net to work with, but instead found Tampa goalieMike Smith's pads as the Bruins often did over the final 40 minutes of play.To say Bostons top there forwards were non-factors would be tremendously accurate in a game that could have so much more had any of them been able to get offensive work done either on the power play (0-for-2) or five-on-five.

The offensive no show from those three was one of the biggest head scratchers in a day full of them as the Bruins collapsed on a three goal first period lead, and limp back to Boston after losing a 5-3 decision in Game Four at the St. Pete Times Forum.

On top of that, David Krejci won only three out of his 12 face-offs in another lackluster game on the draw and showed little of the combination flairtenacity that usually emerges when hes at the top of his game.

Instead Krejci was largely invisible while finishing with a team-worst minus-3 and was one of the culprits among a team-wide breakdown over the final 40 minutes that looked all too familiar.

David had a tough night in the face-off circle, and I think that kind if identified the type of game he had tonight, said Claude Julien. That wasnt the type of game were used to seeing David play. I didnt feel our players a lot of our players did not play their best gamer tonight.

His line after two periods had no shots on net. But theres more than David on that line. I think it was a tough night for their line tonight. We know what impact they have for a hockey club when theyre on. Tonight was a tough night for that line.

So much for Tomas Kaberle turning the corner with the Bruins.

After showing something in a pair of wins against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman was right back in the Bs hamper with possibly the worst 11 minute performance in the playoffs to date.

Two amazing things stand out about Kaberles tough night in 11:35 of ice time during the 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in Game Four: the Bs defenseman managed to finish at only a minus-1 and he could be in danger of becoming a healthy scratch in favor of Steve Kampfer if things continue along at their current rate.

Of course, there were plenty more bad plays to go around. Milan Lucic had a cringe-worthy turnover near the blue line that led to Simon Gagnes game-winner in the third period, and that capped off a totally absent game from Bostons top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

But it was Kaberle that was completely manhandled by Sean Bergenheim behind the Boston net for Tampas game-tying goal in the second period at the end of the 3:38 barrage that saw the Lightning tie the game.

I saw Bergenheim coming and I lost it between my legs. I have to be a bit sharper on that play. Its one of those games you have to learn from. We all have to pretty much forget about the second period, said Kaberle. We have to worry about playing a full 60 minutes and then we wont have any problems.

And it was Kaberle again in the third period that couldnt get on the same page with Tim Thomas when Ryan Malone and Simon Gagne rushed in for the game-winner while the Bs struggled to hang on for dear life.

Kaberle was suffering from the same malady that seemed to be infecting the rest of the team so acutely from the second period moving forward.

We had to continue playing the same way, said Julien. Somehow we started getting stretched out again. They started getting speed. They started getting momentum.

Kaberle certainly did nothing to stem the momentum, and the question becomes what to do with Kaberle and defenseman partner Adam McQuaid -- a tandem struggled to hold the fort in the final 40 minutes of Saturday afternoons collapse job in Tampa Bay.

The conventional wisdom is that the Bruins would never scratch Kaberle given that they surrendered two first round picks (Joe Colborne and an actual first round pick) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the defenseman. But when it comes to winning and losing, the former Leafs D-man didnt do anything but hurt on Saturday.

The Bruins dropped their first game of the playoffs after scoring first, and now sit 7-1 in the postseason when scoring the first goal against their opponents.

Dennis Seidenberg blocked a game-high seven shots in 24:58 of ice time, but was also on the ice for a pair of Tampas goals including the Simon Gagne game-winner that came just moments after his final blocked shot of the game.

Patrice Bergeron potted a pair of goals to give him a team-high 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in the 12 playoff games hes appeared in, and his second goal was his first career short-handed goal in the playoffs.

The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play and are now 4-for-52 in the playoffs on the man advantage a 7.7 percent success rate. It is simply amazing that they stand two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals given that horrendous statistic.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.