By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — There are many things that the average sports viewer has trouble conceptualizing in real life. Using a stick to redirect NHL-speed slap shots is most certainly one of those things.

In this era of ultra high definition, super slow-motion replays, tipping a puck past a goaltender at times seems like a piece of cake. Come to think of it, after watching that replay at 10 percent speed … why didn’t the goalie just make the save?

But in full speed, the live-motion act of tipping a puck out of mid-air while positioning oneself on a sheet of ice while also facing the threat of getting bulldozed or elbowed in the eye socket by an opponent at any given moment is a fairly incredible work of athleticism, focus, and skill.

And even in that realm, not all tips are created equal. Pucks that stay on or near the ice are much easier to get a blade on than, say, a rising slap shot from the blue line. But on Sunday evening, Bruins center Charlie Coyle made it all look so very easy to stun the Lightning late in the first period of Game 1.

And this one was no accident. When Brandon Carlo teed up his bomb from the blue line, he wasn’t trying to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. A man with six goals over his last 215 regular-season games knows his limits.

No, Carlo saw Coyle setting up wide of the net and sent a howler that was destined for Vasilevskiy’s glove or the glass behind the net. But Coyle confidently — and quite casually — lifted his stick to redirect the puck at an angle over the shoulder of a helpless Vasilevskiy.

The fact that Coyle wasn’t stationary but was instead drifting backward after circumnavigating the offensive zone makes it all the more of an impressive feat.

After his mid-air bat to score against the Hurricanes …

… and now after the 3-2 Bruins win over the Lightning, Coyle expressed some gratitude for his days honing his baseball skills in Weymouth.

“Yeah, I’m glad my parents signed me up for Little League when I was younger,” Coyle said with a relieved smile. “Brando just put one to the net. And stick around the net, good things happen. You take it any way you can.”

The goal was Coyle’s third of the playoffs, as he’s been steadily producing as a third-line center, despite not getting a whole lot of help from his wingers. He now has 12 goals in 33 playoff games with the Bruins, with two straight coming in memorable fashion.

Charlie Coyle deflects a shot for a goal past Andrei Vasilevskiy (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Let’s now share a leftover thought or two from the Bruins’ 3-2 series-opening win over the Lightning.

–Patrice Bergeron obviously got plenty of well-deserved credit for his ridiculous pickpocket of Ryan McDonagh to set up what proved to be the game-winning goal.

But just for the sake of emphasis … make sure to remember that two straight games have been won by goals where Bergeron created something out of absolutely nothing.

Again, all of the praise and admiration of Bergeron is well-earned. Yet there’s still no way to ever properly sum up his influence on games on a night-to-night and shift-to-shift basis.

–It always looks bad when soft shots from distance get past a goaltender, but it’d be awfully difficult to get on Jaroslav Halak much for either of Victor Hedman’s goals. A partial screen and a subtle deflection off Charlie McAvoy’s leg appeared to affect both shots, but especially the second.

But Halak’s performance was overall remarkable, stopping 35 of 37 shots against the most potent offense in the NHL is no joke. He was ready for some early tests in the first, and his best save came against Barclay Goodrow — with a little help from the post.

Nothing was overly spectacular, but Halak was just on his game all night.

This is important for obvious reasons, but also because if the Bruins hope to lift the Cup this year, they won’t face any offense that’s quite like Tampa’s. The Capitals, who ranked second in goals scored per game during the regular season, are done. So are the Maple Leafs, who ranked third.

The Avalanche ranked fourth, and they are still playing. But Philipp Grubauer’s injury might be an insurmountable loss for Colorado’s hopes of reaching the Cup Final.

The Flyers — who ranked eighth in goals scored per game — have plenty of firepower, but they’re not quite at the Tampa level.

The point is, there’s no test for a goaltender quite like facing Tampa in the playoffs. Halak has a long way to go, but he’s already cleared 25 percent of that massive challenge.

–If you’ve ever watched Brad Marchand, you know that when he makes a zone entry but doesn’t see anything developing, his go-to move is to stop along the wall, turn his back to the play, and wait for his linemates to infiltrate the zone. Sometimes he gets bullied, sometimes he loses a puck battle, but more often than not, Marchand generally figures something out from there.

He gave a pretty illuminating answer on Sunday night when asked about his plans while entering the zone, just prior to sending a pass to Carlo for the Coyle goal.

“I don’t love throwing it in the zone. I tend to want to try and make a play,” Marchand said. “I think I tried to make three plays on that play. Originally, I was looking for Pasta. Then I looked for Chuck and then eventually got it to Brando. So, the defensemen actually made a few good plays, got lucky, stuck around.”

It’s not really luck when you do it 600,000 times. But it’s interesting nevertheless to hear Marchand’s thought process on plays like that, as it takes a rare level of confidence and toughness to take that strategy so often.

–Connor Clifton’s energy is outrageous. Even in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where everybody’s buzzing, Clifton manages to buzz at a buzzier level than anyone else can buzz.

Connor Clifton collides with Carter Verhaeghe. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It doesn’t always manifest itself in production, but it’s always easy to see. On Sunday, he flew in on a rush and created a goalmouth chance for himself. Tampa took a penalty just moments later.

–Ondrej Kase has — by my unofficial count — at least 10 Grade-A opportunities thus far in the bubble. He’s scored on zero of them.

Playing on a line with a real-life wizard who’s playing inspired hockey, you’ve absolutely got to start burying some of those chances.

Sunday’s chance came via a feed from Torey Krug, not David Krejci. But the point still stands.

Kase has now played 13 games for the Bruins — six pre-pandemic, seven in the bubble — and he’s yet to score a goal. That’s despite 26 shots on goal. His career shooting percentage of 9.5 would dictate that at least a couple of those would have gone in by now. Alas, Kase has just had no finish thus far.

–I know that I need to get over this pass at some point, but I’m having trouble doing so.

The wildest part is that if you watch the replay, Krejci knew he’d have that lane for a split second, and he gained that knowledge a few seconds in advance. It was just a simple mathematical equation for him, as he continues to see the game from an aerial view in slow motion.

Pastrnak knew it, too. After the game, he said, “Well, to be honest, I was ready, like, for about 15 seconds. I knew it was coming. He’s an unbelievable playmaker. He’s been doing that for a long time in this league.”

Krejci now has points in seven straight playoff games, and it’s to the point now where teammates are just expecting him to create magic whenever he touches the puck.

–That being said, Krejci learned to maybe steer clear of the crease for this series.

There are only so many body slams a human’s frame can take, you know?

–The refs were bad. What are the refs doing? Why are they doing bad things? They should do better.

Zdeno Chara’s “cross-check” was a shove. Mikhail Sergachev’s “holding” infraction lasted all of 0.3 seconds. Chris Wagner coming away with the lone penalty after a mayhem-type of post-whistle scrum was bewildering. The crew of Chris Lee and Francis Charron gets a big thumbs down for that one. They’re deep enough into bubble life now that the rust should be worn off of the refs, too.

–The thing with playing Tampa is that no lead feels safe. Even without Steven Stamkos, the quick-strike threat of the Lightning is ever-present.

Combine that factor with the reality that these teams really do seem to have built up a genuine level of hatred toward each other … and this ought to be a rather fun, exhilarating, and long series. It still should be a conference final matchup, but after enduring the longest stretch without sports in our lifetimes, we’re in no position to complain about what should be a phenomenal series of playoff hockey.

Cedric Paquette, Charlie McAvoy (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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