|Dwayne Roloson “was the guy that took us here,’’ said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)|
Roloson will get the start
Boucher says he’s rested and ready
It’s the usual trick: The coach pulls the goalie and throws in the backup to shake up a struggling team.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher put his own spin on the strategy yesterday, naming No. 1 goalie Dwayne Roloson as the starter for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum, replacing backup Mike Smith, who took over for Roloson in the middle of Game 4 and got an unexpected nod for the start in Game 5.
Smith played well enough (17 saves) in Game 5, his first start of the playoffs, but the Bruins managed to carve out a 3-1 victory and now lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two.
“Roloson, he was the guy that took us here,’’ Boucher said. “That’s how I felt before the last game, but like I said, I felt it was time to give him a little breather and at the same time, I felt that Smitty had played really well, so it’s a perfect situation to put Smitty in.’’
It’s perfect, Boucher offered, because Roloson “is going to be the only rested guy on the two teams.’’
Boucher said he used Smith in Game 5 to give the 41-year-old Roloson a break. Roloson has a 2.51 goals-against average and 92.5 save percentage in 15 playoff games, but he has been yanked twice in this series.
In Game 4, he got the hook with 2:02 left in the first period and the Lightning trailing, 3-0. He gave up three goals on nine shots. Smith took his place and stopped all 21 shots the Bruins put on him as the Bolts rallied for a 5-3 win.
Roloson, said Boucher, “has had tremendous stretches with us. I remember there was one time where it wasn’t going so well and we gave him two days off and he came back and he was outstanding after.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys on our team, puts in a lot of hours and a lot of time, and he’s like everybody else — at some point or another, he just needs to breathe a little bit.’’
Bergenheim ailing Lightning left wing Sean Bergenheim, the leading goal scorer in the playoffs with nine (11 points in 16 games), suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period Monday night and did not return.
Yesterday, Boucher gave this assessment of Bergenheim’s availability: “If it was today, right now, he wouldn’t be playing. We’ll see tomorrow. I’ll go to church, I think.’’
Boucher said he would make a decision on a replacement, if necessary, today. It will be hard to duplicate the chemistry Bergenheim has had with linemates Dominic Moore and Steve Downie. Blair Jones took his spot in Game 5 after Bergenheim left.
Collective effort Tied for second in playoff goal scoring is Bergenheim’s teammate, Martin St. Louis, who has eight, as does Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin (going into last night’s Game 5). Boucher doesn’t expect St. Louis, or any other Lightning player, to lead the team to victory on his own, whether Bergenheim plays or not.
“It falls on everybody,’’ said Boucher. “I hate to point guys out and say, ‘You’ve got to be the guy and you’ve got to be the guy.’ Everybody’s been the guy with us at one moment or the another.
“Tomorrow, it’s a team thing. It can’t be one guy taking all this pressure on his shoulders; it’s everybody’s that’s got to lift a little together. We’ll see who’s going to come up big tomorrow, but somebody will.’’
Positive thinking Defenseman Eric Brewer was one of the Lightning players working hard to extract the positive aspects of Game 5.
“The fact that we did have long stretches where we played real well,’’ Brewer said. “I thought we generated a lot of chances; we didn’t get rewarded for them, but the easiest thing is just to try and do something a bit different when a lot of things worked real well.
“Sometimes you get confused with the outcome — we’re unhappy with it, obviously, but the key is just to stick with it. There’s a lot of things that are going well.’’
The biggest problem for the Lightning is getting pucks past Tim Thomas, whom Boucher continues to call an “enigma.’’ Thomas had 33 saves, including one All-World stick save on Steve Downie, to confound the Bolts Monday.
“You want to stick with it,’’ Brewer said. “Obviously the guys who are around the crease a bit more are going to look at some ways to get some more traffic, or a different look, or get him out of position a little bit. Or if they see something, an option for them when they’re shooting or try to make a little play.
“For the D, it’s just shots and traffic.’’
The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win their first-round series with the Penguins. They have experience maintaining their composure in the face of elimination.
“From the back end out, we’re trying to get back, make some plays, keep the puck moving forward,’’ said Brewer, “and get the puck into the hands that make the most sense.’’