Lightning get much-needed spark from Brewer
When asked about the impact made by the February trade that sent defenseman Eric Brewer to the Lightning, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher smiled.
Boucher replied: "Have you got half an hour?"
The Lightning blue line is generally a no-name unit, but one player from that defensive core is shining through two games against the Penguins.
Brewer has been a force at both ends of the ice and apparently has emerged as a force in the Tampa Bay locker room.
"He brings tons of experience," Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund said. "He's been a fantastic fit for the entire organization."
Brewer, who turns 32 today, has played for the Islanders, Oilers and Blues. St. Louis, which was out of playoff position, traded him to the Lightning for a draft pick and prospect.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman appears to have made one of the trade deadline's shrewdest deals.
"He has made such of a big impact on this team," Boucher said. "Whether you're talking offensively or defensively, he's made a big impact."
Brewer certainly made a significant impact in Game 2 against the Penguins. He scored a goal, added two assists and was on the ice for four of Tampa Bay's five goals. Brewer also was sound defensively, using his 6-foot-3 frame to expertly box out the Penguins from rebound opportunities.
"He can do it all," Ohlund said. "He's such a big man, but he can really skate."
The Penguins found out the hard way.
Early in the first period, Brewer saw that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was trapped so decided to lead a rush. He found himself on a 2-on-1 and ultimately buried a shot over the glove of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
He then made a terrific play at the blue line while on the power play, intercepting Penguins center Max Talbot's clearing attempt. Moments later, Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier scored to give his team a 2-0 lead.
"The start of the game was great," Brewer said. "We knew we didn't play that bad in Game 1. We just needed to keep playing hard."
Such simple words can go a long way in the postseason, especially when considering almost half of Tampa Bay's roster had never taken part in the Stanley Cup playoffs before Game 1 of this series.
"There's another part of his game that we don't always hear about," Boucher said. "It's the intangibles. He's a very assertive guy. He's been around. He's very clear about what players need to do. He voices his opinion. That's something I wasn't expecting."
The Penguins surely weren't expecting Brewer to have three points through two games. He also blocked five shots in Game 1 and has been effective as one of Tampa Bay's primary penalty killers, helping that unit kill all 13 of the Penguins' power plays through two games.
"I'm very comfortable here," Brewer said.
Playing against the physical Brewer has been anything but comfortable for the Penguins.
"I knew he was a good player," Boucher said. "I knew he was the captain in St. Louis and played for Team Canada before. But I wasn't expecting this kind of leadership. We need guys to make it happen for us. And he has."Additional Information:
Tampa Bay defensemen Eric Brewer has been a standout through two games against the Penguins
Blocked shots: 4