What will we see this afternoon in Game 4 between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning? Will it be the high-scoring, "pond hockey"-type show from Games 1 and 2 or the tight goaltending duel from Thursday night's Game 3?
If the Bruins are defensive-minded with Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup, you know Lightning head coach Guy Boucher already has a plan to counteract that and attempt to even up the series.
But it's not just Boucher's coaching scheme that will help Tampa win today. The Lightning players need a better response to the slower pace that Boston will try to play. The littlest of mistakes cost them in Game 3 and that's something that at this point in the Stanley Cup playoffs is lethal. And falling behind early -- 69 seconds to be exact -- forced a game of catch up for Tampa, something that cost them later on according to Boucher.
"It was energy level, let's not kid ourselves," Boucher said of the final two periods on Thursday. "They had to defend in the third period down there, and we had to push, and there is a big difference in the energy level that we leave on the ice. We came out real strong in the first, we had scoring chances, we were driving. In that second period, we felt it and the third period we had no juice left. And because they were pulling back a lot, they saved a lot of energy and we were chasing again, we wasted a lot of energy."
Should the Bruins once again hold the lead first and throughout the game, at what point does Tampa's desperation kick in and the energy level Boucher spoke of being to fall off? The difference in falling behind 2-1 in a series and 3-1 is major, though no one from the Lightning side will call it a "must-win". And if Tim Thomas is once again playing like Vezina Trophy nominee Tim Thomas, the Lightning energy level will be declining while the frustration level will be rising.
Thomas said after Game 3 that Boston played "Bruins hockey", a tough, disciplined, slower, under control pace as opposed to the up-and-down tempo we saw in Game 2. Boucher will surely change up what he throws at Thomas and the Bruins in Game 4, so Boston will have to stick to "Bruins hockey" in order to take a 3-1 series lead today, otherwise momentum will be up in the air heading into a pivotal Game 5.
But enough about what we think, we haven't heard from NESN's Jack Edwards in a while. Puck Daddy's favorite homer announcer recorded a new soliloquy on WEEI's "Big Show" on Friday.
Jack sure has a way with words, doesn't he?
Stick-tap to Puck Buddy Jay for sending in the Edwards video
- Boston Bruins
- Tampa Bay Lightning