Lightning’s Moore good with his latest setup
Lightning forward Dominic Moore, a native of Thornhill, Ontario, knows Boston. He spent four years at Harvard, playing hockey and picking up his bachelor’s degree in 2003, and he likes the Hub so much he has made it his offseason home.
But the 30-year-old center knows Tampa Bay, too, and he knows Montreal, and he knows New York, and he knows Pittsburgh, and he knows St. Paul, and he knows Toronto, and he knows Buffalo, and he knows Miami . . .
It’s not that he doesn’t pay his rent. But Moore, who has played for eight NHL teams in his six full professional seasons, is one of those guys teams like to pick up late in the season. A playmaker and a source of infectious energy, he can do a lot of good things for a team. The short-term contracts that came with the post-lockout CBA have contributed to his moveability. Moore was a free agent last summer when Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman signed him for two years and $2.2 million.
For the Lightning, who have a 1-0 lead on the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 2 tonight at TD Garden, Moore is the pivot for the third line, which has played a crucial role in Tampa Bay’s postseason success. On the wings are Sean Bergenheim, a 27-year-old from Finland who has a league-leading eight goals and one assist in 12 playoff games, and Steve Downie, a 24-year-old who has two goals and 10 assists. Moore, who managed to earn the No. 1 star in the Lightning’s 5-2 Game 1 victory over Boston without scoring a goal, has two goals and seven assists.
And while Bergenheim has been making the scoring splash, it seems as if every goal Bergenheim scores, Moore sets up.
“We played together a lot throughout the year and we had pretty good chemistry,’’ said Moore. “A lot of offense, it helps to know where your teammates are.’’
Moore had 18 goals (a career high) and 32 points during the regular season but he repeats the Lightning mantra that their only focus is on the team.
“We’re just going to continue to stay with our game and stay with our structure,’’ said Moore. “It’s what’s given us success all season long. We wanted to focus on improvement and not worry too much about the results. That’s the way you establish consistency by focusing not on the results, but on getting better each game.’’
Moore has been valuable to the Lightning on the penalty kill, and as a faceoff man: He won 53.2 percent of his faceoffs in the regular season, and has claimed 50.9 percent in the playoffs.
“He’s just continually doing what I feel fits exactly with what we want to do with this team,’’ Lightning coach Guy Boucher said after Game 1.
Despite its scoring streak, Boucher wants to keep his energy line focused on generating energy, not goals.
“You have to watch out, because you don’t want to expect it,’’ Boucher said yesterday, “because their role has been to bring us hustling and great defensive play. You don’t want to start focusing on other things when you’re losing your strengths. If you lose your strengths, eventually whatever you’re doing in other departments is going to fade away.
“It’s important for the Bergenheims and the Moores and the Downies to understand that the hustling, their reliability defensively, their [being] first on the puck and the way they battle and bulldoze around the net, is key to our team, not just because they score goals, but mostly because they inspire the rest of the team also.’’
Moore is a smart player, but he said that has little to do with his studies at Harvard, where he majored in sociology.
“You know what, it doesn’t help at all,’’ he said. “[Sociology] is interesting, it’s fun. It was also, I’m going to say, not one of the harder majors. My grades don’t reflect that, though.’’
Moore’s academic background matches well with Boucher, who has four academic degrees.
“He’s a guy that you have to be constantly on your toes and be paying attention,’’ said Moore. “I probably pay more attention to him than I did in the classroom.
“When you’re interested in the material it helps, too.’’