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A-game, not just "a game"; Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers game 2 preview

In brief, there were high points to the Lightning's 2-1 loss... But there's a need to improve in game 2.

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Where:  Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
When: 8 PM EDT | Tickets: Check availability
Media: NBC Sports Net (cable) | 970 AM WFLA(radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Blueshirt Banter,

The vaulted New York Rangers penalty kill unit allowed the lamp to be lit during game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Take that as a positive for the Lightning going into game 2 tonight at Madison Square Garden: What was supposed to be the strong suite of the opposition proved fallible. Yeah, the Lightning still lost a nail-biter of a close game. It wasn't by way of a Ben Bishop "damn, I should have had that" goal but more like playing a period of attack after two periods of playing back.

Another point of note and a positive to take form the game - by way of the negative that created it - was the fact the Lightning were playing a largely sound, responsible game defensively with a pain riddled Ryan Callahan and with the surprising loss of Brian Boyle from the lineup. The Bolts PK absent Boyle only faced one Rangers opportunity, that's another point of merit for the club.

But poor puck possession through the 1st and 2nd periods and the sit-back, maybe-an-opportunity-will-show-up tactic that we've seen over and over again in the Lightning playoff game plan isn't manufacturing the opportunities that are going to win hockey games. While people will find aspects to complain about from game 1 (I'll cite the defensive pairing of Matt Carle and Andrej Sustr simply to cover that base as well as draw eye-rolls from fans tired of hearing about it), rectifying the situation with effort is about all we can ask for or expect right now.

The game day morning skate was optional for the Tampa Bay Lightning but guess who participated in it? Brian Boyle.  Damian Cristodero, former Tampa Bay Times Lightning beat writer, made this general observation of Boyle.

The Lightning plan to bring their A-game, and head coach Jon Cooper wants it to be a more physical game... on the other side of the ice, it's not like the Rangers aren't expecting the Bolts to bring their A-game.

What will make it the A-game (or a close substitute) will be the final score and a tied series.

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