Boucher stuck to the plan regarding his goaltenders
TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher had a plan heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday night.
The first-year bench boss felt not only that backup goaltender Mike Smith had earned a shot at getting a starting nod, but there was the bonus of getting 41-year-old starter Dwayne Roloson some rest. But as well as Smith played in that 3-1 loss, Boucher always planned to come back with Roloson. The coach told Roloson Monday that he’d be playing in Game 6.
“I knew what my plan was, whatever the consequences were going to be,’’ said Boucher.
Asked what his goalie’s reaction was, Boucher said he had a big smile on his face because he was rested.
Roloson went into last night with a 9-5 record in the playoffs, with a goals-against average of 2.51 and a .925 save percentage.
Spark sought Boucher acknowledged that his team needed more offense, though he refused to single out any players. But Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and Boston’s defense had been stifling his top forwards for most of the first five games.
“Our top two lines obviously have to be part of the solution,’’ said Boucher. “They’ve had some scoring chances so that’s not the problem. It’s really burying it.
“But I think everybody’s had some problems burying it against Thomas. So I think it’s a real team thing.
“And I’m certainly not about to put more pressure on anybody. Anybody can be the hero, and nobody’s preventing Adam Hall from scoring the goal or [Nate] Thompson from scoring the goal or any of our defensemen from scoring the goal.
“I think it’s a big danger when you start pointing fingers at some guys and guys are pushing. We can do a lot of things better, and as a team, we’ve always focused on everybody being part of it, so that’s the way I approach it.’’
Officially speaking Boucher was candid when asked about the officiating for Game 6. Although the coach didn’t cite referee Eric Furlatt by name, the Lightning have not fared well when he has been on the ice.
In the last four Tampa Bay games Furlatt worked, including three in the playoffs, he had called 24 penalties on the Lightning to just nine for the opposition.
“I’m aware of it, very aware of it,’’ Boucher said before the game. “Very, very aware of it. It has been a part of our discussions quite a few times in the last game, the last games we did have that particular ref, and it is lopsided.
“But the only thing we can control is what we do on the ice and hope that things will be fair, like it is with everybody else. You want to ignore it, but you’re right, it is a concern.’’
Stamkos shines Lightning forward Steven Stamkos had one assist and two shots on net in 20 minutes of ice time in Game 5. His best outing of the series was in Game 2 when he collected a goal and two assists. Boucher has been impressed with what he has seen from the 21-year-old, who is playing in his first NHL postseason.
“I think he’s been terrific,’’ said Boucher. “I think he’s learned. I think every game you saw and last game, he was really good out there.
“He’s flying. He was keeping their defensemen on their heels all the time and I feel that he’s a major threat. And last game, he could’ve gotten 2, 3 points easily.
“If he keeps it up, he’s going to be a real winner. There’s a difference between being a winner and a star, and I think he’s figured that out.
“So it’s great to see a youngster that’s figuring it out real early, and that’s part of the battling level that you need to have success at this level.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.