TAMPA, Fla. — What happened to the Lightning against the Islanders in Game 1?
Brian Boyle, who played five years with the Rangers and faced the Islanders numerous times every season, said Thursday that the Lightning shouldn’t have been stunned by the opponents’ moxie in the 5-3 loss in Game 1 on Wednesday.
“Even though they [the Islanders] had some lean years, they came in and played,” said the 6-7 forward, who joined the Lightning as a free agent in July 2014. “They were difficult games, tight games all the time, it was like a playoff game when we played them. They didn’t have the talent they have now, but still had that work ethic. Now the stakes are raised, so it didn’t surprise me that they’d come out like that. It shouldn’t happen again; this is the second round of the playoffs.”
Boyle had good things to say about Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss, who he played against when he was in the American Hockey League. “I remember in ’07-08 in the minors, he was a really good goalie. I remember playing against him. He’s athletic, he competes; again, we can’t be taken by surprise by any of this. They’ve always been a hard team to play against, their personnel changed a little bit, but they’re going to work.”
Boyle, who has been in 89 playoff games in his career, won 10 of 16 faceoffs in Game 5 against Detroit in the first round and blocked three shots, was unhappy with the Game 1 start in which the Lightning allowed three first-period goals.
“We came out with some jump, I don’t know whether we thought it was going to be easy or what . . . We tried to make it easy and it burned us,” Boyle said. “We made it a 100-foot game and they just kept coming in waves, they got some bounces they deserved. I don’t think you can blame it on the layoff [the Lightning had a week off after ousting the Red Wings], it’s a mental thing. We weren’t ready to pay the price in the second round of the playoffs against a team that gets a lot of energy from physical play. We were rested and they were coming off a long emotional series and we let it get away. It’s a shame, but it’s over and done.”
Boyle, now married with two children and settled in the area, expects more intensity in Game 2 on Saturday. “The compete level creates chances, that’s how we have to play. They’re going to be better, we’ve got to be better.”