As if there weren't enough subplots heading into a pivotal game five, now both Claude Julien and Guy Boucher have to figure out who is and isn't playing as the series returns to Boston tied up after the Lightning handed the Bruins a stunning come-from-behind 5-3 defeat in game four.
Julien's said that Kaberle's in, saying that anyone who "knows the game well enough" would keep him in the lineup. As for the Seguin-Thornton issue, he's been far less committal.
"Tyler really played well here the first two games, he certainly didn’t play bad in Tampa, but he didn’t have the same impact," the Boston coach said during his pre-game media address.
As for the most compelling fight for a roster spot, Guy Boucher hasn't said who's starting in net tonight for his team, but all signs point to it being Roloson, despite having allowed 11 goals in his last four-plus periods.
But when the puck drops, who isn't on the ice is going to matter little. Expect Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier to improve their games after being held off the score sheet - save a St. Louis empty net goal at the end of game four - in their two games in Tampa. Don't be surprised if Roloson struggles again, and certainly don't be surprised if he's only allowed one bad goal before getting the hook in favor of Smith, who's yet to allow a Boston goal in three-plus periods this series.
Meanwhile, look for David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic to be a bigger presence than they were in game four - not hard, considering the line combined for 2 shots and a combined minus-five in the game. Tampa's defense continues to be suspect, and a strong Bruins' forecheck should be able to force some turnovers and create chances early on.
If the Bruins do get a lead early, don't expect them to take their foot off the gas; they did that in game four and it's safe to say that they learned their lesson for it.
"If you lose five-one or you lose in overtime in the playoffs, a loss is a loss and you have to put that aside. And you have to move on and you can’t carry that baggage with you," Julien said.
The Bruins have lost back-to-back games only once since mid-March, and just three times since the trade deadline. Sure, that once was at the very beginning of the playoffs, but everyone in the team, from the players to the coaches to the front office, admitted that they had nerves heading into the playoffs.
Tim Thomas continues to be strong the game after struggling, and it's certain that he's going to want to play his best game this year on Monday night, especially after letting it slip to the media that he thinks the Bruins will win the series.
But the Bruins will need production from deep to get a 3-2 lead in the series. Either the Seguin-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder line will come up big or the defense will find a way to get involved in the offense and make a difference, or the Bruins will head to Tampa with their heads down, playing once again for the right to continue their season.