TAMPA, Fla. - Brian Boyle was eager to get back here after Game 2, so much so that the Lightning rushed Boyle back to Tampa soon after the Lightning's 6-2 win over the Rangers on Monday, rather than wait to fly with the rest of the team Tuesday afternoon.
Boyle had something to rush back to. His first child, Declan, was born on Tuesday evening, a nicely timed life-changing event between games of this Eastern Conference finals.
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"When I first heard him it was really emotional, when I first saw him I was petrified, I guess," Boyle said after the Lightning's morning skate in advance of Wednesday night's Game 3. "You're taking care of another human . . . But after that it was just joy. Holding him, being around him. When he sneezed it was like the cutest thing I've ever seen."
Boyle's wife, Lauren, is accustomed to the haphazard springs. The two met during Boyle's five seasons with the Rangers, which culminated with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final last June -- and coincided with another big event for them.
"She's a trooper," Boyle said. "She handled planning our wedding during the playoffs last year and handled the third trimester and having a baby this year. She's a real special person. I'm really lucky."
As for the hockey, Boyle felt fortunate to suit up for Game 2, even though he played a rather sparing 10:57. An undisclosed injury kept Boyle out of Game 1 and his absence was felt by the Lightning, which played without the playoff-savvy Boyle like a very green group in losing 2-1.
"I tried to go in Game 1 and if I could have played I would have played, obviously I wanted to play," Boyle said. "It was really frustrating not to be out there."
Game 2 was not the sort of contest in which the Lightning needed Boyle all that much -- he normally gets his minutes five on five and on the penalty kill, but he wasn't needed for much PK duty and the Lightning spent a large amount of Game 2 on the power play.
But the affable 30-year-old center adds plenty to the Lightning lineup, which again featured 11 forwards and seven defensemen Wednesday night. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper switched to that alignment for Game 2 and his Lightning have won five of six games this postseason with seventh defensemen Nikita Nesterov in rather than a fourth-liner up front.
"I can just get these guys out there more," Cooper said of his top forwards when he has the seven defensemen lineup.
Boyle may not be among that group, but his presence on faceoffs and his physical play still make a difference.
And even though he may be a bit tired after the late-night trip down from New York and a new baby in his life, he was ready to roll for Game 3.
"I've never been so scared and happy at the same time," he said of his son's birth. "We're very, very lucky and proud."