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Game 5 Preview; B’s face pivotal game as winner likely takes the series

May 23, 2011

After 20 minutes of hockey in Game 4 it looked like the Bruins had all but sewn up an Eastern Conference Finals series win and the team began to play like it. The Bruins quit on the game and let the Lightning back into the game thanks to mental lapses and eventually let Game 4 slip out of their hands entirely, letting in five straight to blow the game 5-3. Now the Bruins must come back home and look to steal back momentum with a strong showing in Game 5, the game that could very well determine which team goes to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning come back to Boston with all the momentum in their hands after stealing Game 4 and although Mike Smith has not allowed a goal in the series, making all 29 saves he’s needed to, it is not sure whether he or Dwayne Roloson will get the start tonight. Roloson had been the best goalie in the playoffs coming into this round but has been pulled twice in the first four games of the series. If Guy Boucher does ride the hot hand remember that Mike Smith was 1-2 against the Bruins, getting pulled once, and letting in 3.01 GAA. Smith has been great in the backup role, playing very well in spot starts whereas other former starters struggle.

The Bruins face some roster questions of their own, specifically at defense. Tomas Kaberle, after having two good games, was terrible in Game 4. His play has brought on the argument that he should be benched in favor of Steven Kampfer or Shane Hnidy. There’s doubt as to whether Kampfer is ready to play and even if he is healthy he hasn’t played an NHL game since March. Kampfer’s game is much more physical and less likely to bite the Bruins and not a terrible drop off offensively.

There are also questions about the lines. The Bruins first line hasn’t done much of anything this series and mixing and matching could provide a spark of offense. With last change at home, the Bruins have a liberty to try to exploit favorable matchups and be creative if they want to. An important thing for the team to remember is that the Lightning have won two games off of bursts of offense rather than sustained offense. If the Bruins are able to minimize mistakes and get the matchups they want, they should be okay. They showed that they can be disciplined in Game 4, now they just need to possess the puck more and put together a full 60 minute effort. If they don’t they could see this opportunity slide by.

I have a softball game tonight at 8:45 so don’t expect a game story tonight unless it rains in the Greater Boston area. I’m currently youtubing Native American rain dances.

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