A thought-provoking series

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A thought-provoking series

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

This series is interesting.

I got to watch the first game of the Eastern Conference finals at close range. Well, kind of. Of all the floors lining the guts of TD Garden, my seat on the 9th floor was as high up as you could get. Not a bad place to take the whole scene in. The crowd's roars reached the rafters with an intensity I have never before heard in that building.

Surprisingly, it makes for a good place to think.

My eyes were two of the thousands on Tyler Seguin Saturday night. 'A final at age 19,' I marveled. 'Thrilling. Terrifying. There's probably a little peesicle frozen to his leg right now.' But then I scanned over 25-year old Nathan Horton, in full stride of his first career playoff run; Tim Thomas, 37-year old NHL journeyman; and 43-year old Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi. None of these guys have represented Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. Every single member of this club is trying to do something no Bruins have done since the year Seguin was born, so that amount of pressure from the city rests evenly across all shoulders.

For one moment, Seguin didn't seem to feel it.

His goal was gorgeous. I could have watched him spin Mike Lundin down to the ice on loop. And that one, pretty move to fool Dwayne Roloson glove side made me wonder about all that hype. No doubt, the teenager didn't sleep a wink Friday night. But he's a goal-scorer. For everything else that blew Seguin away -- the lights, the banners, the noise, the cameras -- I bet he was calm as he rushed through the neutral zone.

Calm? Yes. Clean? Nope.

If we could freeze-frame the action when Seguin's working along the half-wall or in his own zone, pluck him out, and insert somebody else I'd do it in a heartbeat. Those are the areas where he reminded us of his inexperience. And that's where 19 years really means different things to different players.

Tuukka Rask is another guy I was thinking about.

Remember him? That other goalie. Last year's must-have, shutdown netminder. He was the guy I zeroed in on when Tim Thomas let up goal No. 3 on Saturday night. I was too far away to tell, but wanted to know if he craned his neck toward coach Claude Julien after Teddy Purcell scored. On reflex. Did he get his hopes up? Was he antsy as a Little League pitcher stuck riding the pine while the starter walks three straight batters? "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon. Put me in!" (Or whatever the Finnish equivalent is.) Obviously, it didn't happen. And it probably won't; Tim Thomas is expected to tighten up.

He'll need to.

Tampa got its big win without a goal from its top talent. The marksmen: Brett Clark, Sean Bergenheim, Teddy Purcell, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and Simon Gagne. No St. Louis (one assist), no Lecavalier, and no Stamkos. That's going to change. Lecavalier had five shots Saturday night, including a brilliant opportunity in the first period that Thomas barely stopped with a sprawling save. And how about zero SOG from Steven Stamkos? We won't be seeing that again. The Bruins may be banking on Thomas tamping down, but they can also expect a heavier assault from Tampa's first two lines.

That when I considered Boston's power play.

Nah, just kidding. Not even going to go there. The Bruins have one huge piece of the PP puzzle missing in Marc Savard and another big other piece, Tomas Kaberle, is equally but less understandably useless. For spectators, Boston's man advantage is best for two-minute power naps or trips to the fridge to get another beer -- it's a fact like E = mc2 or "Pierre McGuire thinks James van Riemsdyk is a fine young man." (WHAMMO!) There's nothing more to say until the Bruins provide evidence to the contrary.

I can drink as many beers as I want tonight; I'm watching Game 2 at home. It'll be a lot quieter, that's for sure. But there'll still be plenty to think about.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: NHL passes on participating in 2018 Olympics

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Morning Skate: NHL passes on participating in 2018 Olympics

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while still digesting all of the awesome trailers and tidbits released at Comic Con in San Diego. 

*The NHL says there is no alternative regular season schedule for next season, and that any hope of participating in the Olympics is dead

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Predators just one Ryan Johansen deal away from a piece of salary cap artwork, and being able to keep everything together.  

*Clark Booth is either upset or mystified that the Bruins haven’t done anything this offseason. My good man Clark, they need to re-sign David Pastrnak and let some of their young prospects continue to grow and develop. Better that than sign another premium-priced contract to a player like David Backes or Matt Beleskey. They don’t need that at this point. And they shouldn’t panic and trade one of their good, young players either. 

*Former UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has agreed to a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. 

*It’s a wonderful time to be a sports fan in Pittsburgh as the Penguins have been dominant, and it looks like the Steelers are in position to finish in second place behind the New England Patriots in the AFC. Well, that’s something to write home about. 

*Minnesota native Kyle Okposo opens up for the first time about a scary season-ender with the Buffalo Sabres where Illness forced him to the hospital. 

*Larry Brooks explains why the New York Rangers have short-changed Mika Zibanejad in their salary arbitration exercise. 

*For something completely different: Are you kidding me with this Stranger Things 2 trailer to Michael Jackson’s Thriller? This looks awesome. 

Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

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Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply shaking my head at David Price. What a typically soft, boorish ballplayer not meant for a big market where more is expected of those wearing the Red Sox uniform.

*There are tempered expectations for rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as he gets things going with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

*Keith Yandle believes that Dale Tallon being back in charge of the Florida Panthers is going to bring unity and solidarity to the Panthers once again.

*Kevin Shattenkirk believes that the New York Rangers are right on the cusp of challenging for a Stanley Cup title.

*Here 20 thoughts from the just-concluded Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp, where there’s some pretty strong, young talent.

*Even as the highest-paid player in the NHL, Connor McDavid is underpaid for what he brings to the table, says Ron MacLean.

*Interesting look at the Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog situation in Colorado, where both players have watched their performance fall off a bit. This is why I’d be very nervous about giving up the farm to trade for either of these players if I’m the Bruins. The jury is out on whether they’re in decline as players, or if it’s simply the mess in Colorado getting them down.  

*For something completely different: What a sweet interaction between "Wonder Woman" Gal Gadot and a young, emotional fan all decked out in WW gear.