By Michael Felger
A couple of thoughts for you on a Monday morning one Bruins, one Celtics.
I already like Tampas coach better than ours. While Juliens roll-four-lines approach had the Versus crew asking each other questions late in the game, Guy Boucher once again employed a lineup that didnt even HAVE a true fourth line. He dressed seven defensemen and only 11 forwards, mixing and matching the final two forwards (Nate Thompson and Adam Hall) with players from the top three lines. This is the norm for Boucher, not the exception.
Meanwhile, Julien had his fourth line of Greg Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille on the ice for an extended shift midway through the third period in Game 1.
With the Bruins down two goals.
With their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in two decades on the line.
Even the announcers took note, with Ed Olczyk asking sideline reporter Pierre McGuire, at what point do you start shortening your bench? McGuires answer was pretty simple. "Now," he said. Clearly, it was something they hadnt been used to seeing a coach rolling out his crashenergy line with this team in desperate need for goals late in a Stanley Cup playoff game. But thats Claude.
I mean, really. Is there another coach in the league who wouldnt have put Tyler Seguin back on the ice soon after the rookie did what he did to Tampa defenseman Mike Lundin in the first period? Seguin certainly has his problems defensively and along the wall and those problems were on display early in the first period but he had just torn the roof off the building and had turned a 3-0 runaway back into a game. Dont you think most coaches would have had Seguin back out there soon enough, seeing if a young, talented kid with fresh legs could create more pressure on the opponent?
Not Claude. Seguin didnt play the rest of the first period and was on the pine for the first 10 minutes of the next stanza. Nearly 15 minutes came off the clock before until he first saw the ice after the goal. He played only two shifts in the second period. He didnt see a second of time on the power play, which was once again atrocious (0-for-4).
Honestly, I wonder why they even dressed the kid. It makes perfect sense to sit him down if its a tight, one-goal game and the Bruins have to lock down in their own end. Fine. Dont play him. But he doesnt even get a sniff on the power play down two goals and no one clicking offensively? He doesnt get thrown back over the boards soon after the goal to see if he can build momentum? Maddening.
You also have to wonder if Boucher is in Juliens head a little bit, with the latter chafing every time someone mentions Tampas vaunted 1-3-1 neutral-zone trap. Of course, Boucher switched it up early in Game 1, going with a more aggressive forecheck and employing 2-2-1 looks. Regardless of what Julien says, the Bs clearly werent ready for it.
Just imagine. A coach who changes systems and alters his lineup on the fly. What a concept.
All that said, I think the Bruins should win this series. Note, I didnt say "will." I have no idea who will win this thing. It could go either way. But I didnt see the Lightnings advantage in top-end talent show itself on Saturday. I didnt look at that team and say, "Theyre just better." Not even close. If Tim Thomas can sharpen up and the defensemen can stop puking on their skates, the Bs will be just fine.
Then I can go back to ignoring the things that bug me about Julien.
I love how the Green Teamers are now rationalizing the Kendrick Perkins trade. Many of them will grudgingly allow that the trade may not have worked out (really?), but it still didnt have an impact on the Heat series. This is, of course, laughable.
The Perk trade had an impact on everything. Rondo got worse. Garnett wore down. Jeff Green didnt help Pierce. The Cs, who were holding the No. 1 seed in the East at the deadline, won only 15 of their remaining 27 games and lost home court to Chicago and Miami. And that didnt impact the Heat series how?
I wonder how perceptions change if the Bulls wipe out the Heat in the Conference Finals. Im not talking among the Green Teamers. Theyre hopeless, just awaiting instructions from above. Im talking about the rest of us. Normal people. Miami sure looked rough last night. The minions said the Celts lost because it was just the Heats time, that they had the two best players on the floor and thats what wins in the NBA. Really? I thought the best "team" won. At least that what they all told me when the Celts won three years ago. What if the Bulls, who dont own the two best players in the series, either, take down LeBron and Wade? Then what? Meanwhile, Perkins is getting ready for the Western Conference finals. Whoops.
Above and beyond all that, the simple fact is that the Celtics never looked like a championship caliber team the entire remainder of the season following the deadline when everyone considered them in that class before it. In the final two months they lost to seven different playoff teams -- Denver, Philadelphia, Memphis, Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago and Miami. Take out a five-game winning streak against five opponents who missed the playoffs, and the Cs werent even a .500 team following the deal.
I dont know how anyone could separate out the Heat series from the rest. Its ridiculous. The Cs werent the same team after the trade. Period. The players didnt buy in, and the team regressed badly. They werent good against anyone, including the Heat. Face it. Danny blew this one.
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