Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle participated in Monday’s morning skate ahead of Game 2 in the Bolts’ Eastern Conference Final series against the New York Rangers.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper didn’t have an update on Boyle’s status for tonight. Boyle is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
“The update is there is no update,” Cooper said.
Boyle missed Game 1 in the series versus the Rangers, a 2-1 loss that leaves the Lightning staring at an 0-1 deficit heading into Game 2. The Lightning could certainly use Boyle going forward in the series, his experience and use in multiple situations providing plenty of value to a Bolts team relatively bereft of postseason maturity.
“He’s a great leader in this room,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “He’s played a lot of hockey at this time of year. It was tough for him to not be in the lineup for us. Great on the penalty kill, great on faceoffs, so hopefully he can get a chance to come back tonight. Not sure yet, but he’s a big part.
If Boyle can’t go, guys like Brenden Morrow, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Marchessault will need to step up once again to fill the void. Boyle hadn’t missed a game all season until sitting out Game 1.
“The depth of this team has been a strength of ours all year,” Stamkos said. “I think we showed that without (Callahan) in Game 6, but we’ll have to find a way whether (Boyle’s) in or out.
“But, we’re a better team when he’s in the lineup.”
Expect a more physical Tampa Bay Lightning team to show up at Madison Square Garden for Game 2 tonight.
Cooper said the Lightning have a habit of playing to the level of their competition, as evidenced by the fast-paced, end-to-end action in Game 1.The Lightning and the Rangers are two of the fastest teams in the NHL. He’d like to get the Rangers off their game by going into Game 2 with a hit-first mentality.
“In order to slow them down a little bit, put more pressure on their D, we’ve got to try to knock them around a little bit,” Cooper said.
Lightning forward Cedric Paquette said the Bolts have responded well after a loss during these Stanley Cup Playoffs and expects the team to play their best game of the series tonight. In Game 2 of the First Round Detroit series, the Lightning played with a smash-everything-that-moves approach that resulted in a 5-1 victory.
Tampa Bay recorded 34 hits during that win.
“We can’t let (New York) walk away with some easy play like the last game,” Paquette said. “They need to pay the price, and that’s what we want to do today.”
Anton Stralman said the Lightning need to establish their forecheck to have a chance in Game 2.
“We can play a bit more physical, put more pressure on the defensemen,” he said. “I know how that’s like. I think when we’re on top of our forecheck, a lot of things kind of fall into place with our team and our structure. I think it’s a real important part of our game, which we can do a better job at.”
RALLY WITH CALLY
Lightning forward Ryan Callahan didn’t know whether he’d be able to play Game 1 of the Lightning-Rangers series until participating in practice the day before the series opener and coming through the session unscathed.
“I wasn’t going to go in the lineup if I couldn’t compete,” Callahan said. “Felt good during the game, felt good after. It went well.”
The biggest issue for Callahan in Game 1 was getting the first hit in. Once he was able to deliver a blow and not feel pain from the emergency appendectomy he underwent just five days earlier, he knew he was going to be fine.
“I felt like I was physical in Game 1,” Callahan said. “I had a lot of opportunities and chances to get hits in, and I did…My game hasn’t changed at all. It can’t change, that’s the only way I’m successful.”
Callahan said the Lightning have to be better in a lot of areas to win Game 2 tonight.
“Not only physical, just our battle level has to be higher,” he said. “I expect that tonight.”
Tonight is a must-win game for the Lightning according to Callahan but only because every playoff game is.
“They’re all important games,” Callahan said. “Tonight’s no different.”