Friday, May 27, 2011

Tampa Bay Lightning's Blair Jones gets to 'live the dream' - St. Petersburg Times

Tampa Bay Lightning's Blair Jones gets to 'live the dream'BOSTON — Lightning C Blair Jones said it sunk in a little bit Thursday night, the eve of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.

Jones, 24, who spent most of the season with AHL Norfolk, was preparing for a playoff game with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.

"It's just pretty amazing," he said before Friday's game. "You talk about living the dream. It's pretty wild."

During a season in which Jones strived to find consistency at the NHL level, dressing for just 18 games, he made some significant strides. So much so that with LW Sean Bergenheim (lower-body injury) missing his second straight game, Jones was put in the lineup for the seventh time this postseason.

While Jones knows he can't replicate Bergenheim's production (nine playoff goals) or chemi­stry with linemates, the physical 6-foot-2, 216-pounder has tried to do the little things.

"He's working so hard. He's a warrior, and we knew that," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "But I think he's maintained the level of play that we're expecting out of him, and he's brought a lot of grit. He's one of those guys that's got enough skill, got enough grit and pays the price. He backchecks extremely well and finishes his check and is first on the puck. It's a great recipe to have a good playoffs."

Jones entered averaging 6:01 of ice time in the playoffs but Friday played 7:17 in the first two periods alone. He said the physical nature and one-on-one battles in the playoffs fit his style well.

"What I like about (Jones) is that he likes the challenges," Boucher said. "He's on the bench and looking at me with those eyes, 'Put me on. I'll do the job.' It's always fun to have those guys."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Bergenheim, who entered Friday second in the playoffs in goals, appeared close to returning.

He made some improvements since suffering the injury in the first period of Game 5 and participated in the optional morning skate and warmups before Game 7 even though Boucher considered him "doubtful."

Boucher pointed out what impact Bergenheim's absence has made.

"When you look at the Bruins' depth, it does make a difference because instead of equalizing things, it tends to give them a little upper hand on that because they've got (Tyler) Seguin on their third line and (Michael) Ryder," Boucher said. "And (Chris) Kelly is doing really well.

"And they've got (Rich) Peverley, a first-line guy (for the Thrashers this season), on their fourth line. And that's where Bergenheim became extremely important for us in the previous series and this series where the line with (RW Steve) Downie and (C Dominic) Moore played like a first line."

PIECE OF PUZZLE: The Bruins tried a few things to spark their power play, which entered Friday 5-for-61 (8.2 percent) in the playoffs.

MISCELLANY: Friday was Lightning G Dwayne Roloson's 50th career playoff appearance and No. 70 for Lightning D Mattias Ohlund.

Read More Tampa Bay Lightning's Blair Jones gets to 'live the dream' - St. Petersburg Times
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