Brian Boyle

Bolts shrug off talk of Madison Square Garden ‘mystique’

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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?

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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.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Lightning, Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final

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The Rangers got through the first two rounds on the strength of 2-1 victories, but in Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference Final they weren’t able to contain the Tampa Bay Lightning. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers will be looking to bounce back tonight after surrendering six goals in each of those contests.

The game is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. ET and you can tune in as early as 7:00 for pregame coverage. The contest will air on NBCSN and it can also be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some relevant links:

It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good

All eyes on Lundqvist

Twins joining Triplets? Watch out if Stamkos, Killorn keep heating up

Bolts rule Carle (undisclosed) out for Game 4

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good

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One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.

Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.

Here’s the Kucherov clincher:

While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:

The rave reviews keep piling in, too.

Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:

Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.

Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:

For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.

It’s hard not to, though, right?

Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”

Video: Johnson scores on shorthanded breakaway, Rangers respond

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The New York Rangers had an ideal opportunity to take an early lead against Tampa Bay as Lightning forward Brian Boyle got two minutes for holding and then teammate Jason Garrison was sent to the box for a delay of game less than a minute later.

Not only did the Rangers fail to capitalize on that extended 5-on-3, but Tyler Johnson ended up scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal after Rangers forward Martin St. Louis gave up the puck.

The goal was initially waived off because the net was knocked off its moorings, but a review determined that it was a good goal. You can see that below:

The Rangers were able to get some measure of redemption though as Tampa Bay’s Brenden Morrow was called off for high sticking at 8:15 of the first frame and Chris Kreider was able to convert on the power play: