Brian Boyle

Bolts mum on what’s ailing Brian Boyle

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Ah yes, the playoffs — where injury information is guarded with the kind of zeal normally reserved for the Secret Service.

On Monday, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper offered virtually nothing on the status of injured forward Brian Boyle, who (somewhat surprisingly) missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers with an upper-body injury.

“The update is there is no update,” Cooper said on Monday.

The Bolts further added to the mystery by having Boyle skate this morning, followed by an “organizational decision” to keep him away from reporters afterward. There was no word if he’d draw in for Game 2 or not.

The towering fourth-line center has been a key contributor for Tampa Bay this spring. He appeared in all 13 playoff games prior to Saturday’s 2-1 loss at MSG and, while he only has two points, Boyle has been good in the faceoff circle, sitting third on the team in draws taken (162) and in winning percentage (53.7).

The former Ranger also has a wealth of playoff experience, with 71 games on his resume.

Related: Bolts coach makes it clear why Drouin isn’t playing

On second thought, Game 1 made Lightning’s Cooper ‘want to vomit’

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The New York Rangers only beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 1, but they controlled much of the proceedings. It was surprising to see a fairly optimistic Jon Cooper after the contest, then.

… That optimism sure faded after Cooper got a hold of the game tape, though.

Just breathe in the (kind of hilarious) negativity Cooper shared after breaking everything down, via the Tampa Bay Times:

“There’s the times you think you played okay, and you watch the tape and you want to vomit,” Cooper said. “And that was a little bit of how (Saturday) night went. For two periods, I thought we were a little better than we were until I watched the tape. The Rangers played extremely well, but we were stubbing our toe all night. So we were just handing them tickets to the movie, and we were a turnstile and watching them go by. We can’t do that. We can’t be giving pucks away, we can’t be turning them over, we can’t not make them go the 200 feet.”

“We’ve got to be much better than we were. And I’m quite convinced we will.”

Great stuff.

Here’s the thing: Cooper’s assessment on Sunday was a lot more accurate than his post-game grading.

The Lightning were thoroughly outplayed on Saturday, allowing a troubling number of odd-man rushes and dangerous chances, with Ben Bishop almost keeping them in long enough to steal a win. By just about every measure, it seemed a lot more lopsided than 2-1:

source:

 

(Chart via Natural Stat Trick)

The question, then, is how much of this is the Lightning having an “off game” and how much is it the Rangers just playing like the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners?

Perhaps lineup changes may factor in? It sounds like Brian Boyle’s Game 2 availability is very much in doubt, but Cooper can still make some tweaks, including perhaps adding Nikita Nesterov back to the defensive mix.

Either way, there’s no doubt Tampa Bay needs to improve its play. At least Cooper realizes that now.

No Brian Boyle for Lightning in Game 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have Ryan Callahan in the lineup, but that’s not the only surprise heading into Game 1 against the New York Rangers. Big center Brian Boyle won’t be able to play because of an undisclosed injury.

The defensive forward is considered day-to-day and will miss this first opportunity to face his former team in the conference finals.

There was some thought that perhaps he was missing Game 1 because his wife was giving birth:

https://twitter.com/AGrossRecord/status/599614202106503168

It sounds like it’s an injury-related absence, however. Either way, he’s not in the mix on Saturday. Here’s what the warm-ups looked like:

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Rangers, Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final

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This is the first time the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will face off in a playoff series, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

The reasoning is simple: there are so many players facing their former teammates in this conference final squabble.

Martin St. Louis (pictured) versus his former team is the obvious headliner, although Ryan Callahan may steal his thunder if he managed to play this afternoon. Beyond that, Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle were useful members of last year’s Stanley Cup Finalist Rangers squad while Dan Boyle won a championship with the Bolts many moons ago.

“It’s a little bit of made-for-TV,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told the Bergen Record. “How often do two captains get traded for each other? Guys that have been big parts of a team and move on to free agency. In part, not because they didn’t want to be there but, in the salary cap era, this is what happens.”

Speaking of made-for-TV, you can watch Game 1 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final on NBC and also stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

No miracle appearance by Callahan, Lightning go with Marchessault

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Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t want to completely rule out Ryan Callahan for Game 6 despite the fact that the forward underwent an emergency appendectomy on Monday. Callahan was unsurprisingly not part of the Lightning’s lineup for Tuesday’s contest against Montreal though.

As projected, Cooper instead inserted Jonathan Marchessault into the lineup over Jonathan Drouin. That decision raised a few eyebrows as Drouin is a highly regarded young forward while Marchessault has just four games worth of NHL experience.

That being said, Marchessault has excelled in the minors with 24 goals and 67 points in 68 AHL games this season. He’ll play alongside Cedric Paquette. Tampa Bay is going with seven defensemen with Nikita Nesterov serving as the extra blueliner.

Callahan’s absence is also projected to led to Brenden Morrow playing alongside Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown. Tampa Bay’s top two lines should stay the same.