Tag: Brian Boyle

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven

Home record, depth scoring top list of Lightning concerns


TAMPA — Despite having made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been a wildly inconsistent team at home during these playoffs.

Of the Lightning’s five home losses (against five home victories), four have been by four goals. In the first round, there was a 4-0 defeat to Detroit; in the second, they lost 6-2 to Montreal; and in the Eastern Conference Final, they lost 5-1 and 7-3 to the Rangers.

So, with home-ice advantage over the Blackhawks, captain Steven Stamkos wants the Lightning to have the same “mentality” at Amalie Arena that they’ve had on the road, where they’ve gone an impressive 7-3 in the postseason.

“It’s being okay with a tight game early on, not feeling the pressure of playing at home or feeling the need to put on a show for your fans or for your family and friends in the stands,” said Stamkos. “We’ve been fine with tight games on the road because we know we’ll find a way in the end. We’ve shown that we can do that. We have to find a way to have that same mentality at home.”

Coach Jon Cooper didn’t disagree with his captain’s take.

“I think sometimes at home, especially against the Rangers, we fell behind early (and) we just tried to chase the game,” he said. “Do we get caught up in our atmosphere, the crowd, everything that’s going on? We might.”

That said, Cooper noted that the Lightning went 32-8-1 at home during the regular season, and it was their 18-16-7 road record for which they “got a little bit maligned.”

“As it turns out, if it wasn’t for our road play, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” he said.

Whether at home or away, one thing the Lightning could really use is more scoring from forwards not named Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, or Ondrej Palat.

Those six comprise Tampa Bay’s top two lines. Combined, they’ve scored 45 goals.

The rest of the forwards have combined for just four goals.

“I think we feel real fortunate to be where we are with laying it on the shoulders of six guys basically,” said veteran winger Brenden Morrow, who has no points in 18 playoff games. “We need to find somebody else. We need scoring contributions from a lot of other people now.”

The obvious candidate is Ryan Callahan, the $34.8 million winger who has just one goal on 39 shots in the playoffs. Brian Boyle, with just one goal on 31 shots, is another veteran who’s had trouble putting the puck in the net.

Related: Fifteen years later, Morrow gets another shot at the Cup

Bolts shrug off talk of Madison Square Garden ‘mystique’

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five

It’s not just about playing a huge game at “the world’s most famous arena.”

Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers have put up gaudy stats in elimination games and Game 7 situations at Madison Square Garden, as you’ve likely seen or heard. Most obviously, they’re 7-0 in Game 7’s at MSG.

On paper, it seems like an intimidating challenge: beat the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners (employing hockey’s biggest goaltending star) in New York City for a chance to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. It’s the sort of scenario that practically breeds “Nervous Nellies.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t taking the bait, though. At least not publicly.

Former Ranger Brian Boyle had some amusing comments about giving in to the MSG “mystique.”

“Do you think I buy it? What am I doing here if I buy it? Why would I fly up from Florida if I bought it?,” Boyle said. “They’ve obviously had success in Game 7. It’s a new year. Obviously, we’re expecting their best and they’ve been good. It’s a fun place to play.”

“They’re going to have the crowd support. We’re going to try to take it away from them as quick as we can, and hopefully it’s going to be a really fun, memorable game.”

Victor Hedman’s mindset is simple enough: he said “we’re prepared for this.”

Alex Killorn provided the sort of clever take you’d kind of expect from an Ivy League grad.

All veteran-type responses, even if most of the Lightning’s roster has never been in this spot before. Steven Stamkos was in a Game 7, and it stung for reasons that went beyond the puck he took to the face.

(Remember that?)

“Yeah, well, I remember not winning that one, so that’s tough. Don’t really remember taking the puck to the face as much as you remember losing,” Stamkos said. “That was a tough one. That was my first experience in the playoffs, and it was a great run. We’re right back in the same position right now, so I’m excited about the opportunity of having a little different result this time around. ”

source: AP
Via AP

Jon Cooper made a good point: yes, the Rangers are dominant in these situations, but none of those Game 7 wins came against the Lightning.

“We haven’t been a part of that history, so it doesn’t affect us,” Cooper said, via the Canadian Press. “I guess you look back and it’s an impressive feat to see what they’ve done. But they haven’t done it against our group and our team, and we’ve got a pretty young, confident group.”

Winning and not taking a puck to the mush would be quite the improvement for Stamkos & Co. (Hey, you need to set goals, right?)

Bishop bounced back in Game 5, but did the Rangers test him enough?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends net against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 24, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop silenced some critics with a Game 5 shutout, but as is often the case, blanking the New York Rangers 2-0 also came down to how his teammates (and opponents) performed.

For the Lightning, it was exactly the type of game they need to play to win it all, as much-heralded defenseman Anton Stralman notes.


Different people beyond the marquee stars were highlighted, as Jon Cooper called Tampa Bay’s penalty kill a key while Bishop thought Brian Boyle’s shot-blocking was most impressive.

Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, goes on to praise Tampa Bay’s defensive effort as its best since they shut down the Montreal Canadiens to end their second-round series in Game 6.

Of course, there’s the flip side of the coin: the Rangers feel like they didn’t do enough to beat Bishop, who stopped all 26 of their shots.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault noted how much time New York spent in Tampa Bay’s zone for stretches of Game 5, yet they didn’t have much to show for it. To the NHL on NBC crew, it all comes down to a lack of net-front presence:

In other words, Bishop’s most painful moments might have come before the game even started.

New York needs to find a way to get through the strong defense of players like Stralman and Hedman (plus the fearless work of guys including Boyle) to put more heat on Bishop going forward, or their dreams of another Stanley Cup Final appearance might get dashed.