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2011 NHL Playoffs: Lightning Look To Seize Control Of Eastern Conference Finals

Already up a game in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to bring another 2-0 series lead home with them by winning tonight's Game 2 against the Boston Bruins. The puck drops a little bit after 8:00pm Eastern time from Boston's TD Garden, with national TV coverage on Versus.

The biggest storyline leading into Game 2 is the possibility that Patrice Bergeron will be back in the Bruins lineup. He suffered a concussion in Game 4 of Boston's second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, and missed Game 1 of this series. But Bergeron took part in some of Monday's Bruins practice, and coach Claude Julien is being somewhat coy about whether or not he will play. From the Boston Globe (registration may be required):

Bergeron left the ice before the conclusion of practice. Bergeron was on the ice for just over an hour. Bergeron didn't participate in any battle drills or down-low work.

"This is the protocol we're going through and the process he has to go through," said Claude Julien. "You've seen him skate now for a few days. That's basically it. We don't have anything more to report, because there is nothing else to report."

Bergeron's return would obviously be a plus for Boston, as Yahoo! Sports's Greg Wyshynski points out. In addition to resetting the Bruins' forward lines to where they normally are, he's been their best faceoff man during the playoffs. The Lightning won 61% of the draws in Game 1 with Bergeron out, and Wyshynski explains the consequences:

It certainly would mean better fortunes for the Bruins in the faceoff circle, where Bergeron was winning at a 64.2 percent clip.

That's the difference between Marty, Vinny, Stamkos and Bergenheim (!) controlling the puck and the Bruins keeping it away from them.

The other storyline is what happened at the end of Game 1, when Boston's Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each threw sucker punches at Lightning players and were dismissed from the game. It was all part of Tampa Bay's game plan of restraint -- knowing the Bruins are likely to try and intimidate them, especially at home, the Lightning are turning the other cheek when they recognize Boston about to take a penalty because of chippiness after the whistle. Captain Vincent Lecavalier took a shot from Johnny Boychuk after a stoppage of play in the third period, which gave the Lightning the power play that Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on to give them a 4-1 lead.

Game Notes:

  • A win tonight would set a Lightning franchise record with nine straight playoff wins. The NHL record for consecutive wins in a single playoff year is 11, shared by three teams.
  • Sean Bergenheim now leads all playoff scorers with eight goals.
  • Although the Lightning allowed 33 shots in Game 1, 23 of the Bruins' shots came from 40 feet away or further.
  • After scoring Boston's first goal on Saturday, rookie Tyler Seguin participated in power-play drills during Monday's practice.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.