Thursday, May 27, 2004
Boyle's goal improves outlook
By Lindsay Berra Special to ESPN.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- It could have been a very rough night for Dan Boyle.
While the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman was playing the closing minutes of a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames in Game 1 on Tuesday night, the Tampa Fire Department responded to a call at his house. They had an electrical fire under control in 20 minutes, but not before the blaze did $300,000 worth of damage to about a third of Boyle's South Tampa home.
After the game, Bolts coach John Tortorella instructed team captain Dave Andreychuk to pull Boyle out of the dressing room and give him the bad news.
Boyle slept little on Tuesday night, having lost all of his clothes and a lot of memorabilia. Most notably, the case around the puck from his first NHL goal was charred. So was his guitar. But Boyle showed up at practice on Wednesday afternoon, looking toward Game 2.
"They're trying to keep my mind on hockey, but, obviously, it's not on hockey right now," Boyle said Wednesday.
After the game-day skate on Thursday morning, Tortorella said he wasn't sure what to expect from Boyle. So, rather than dwell on things that couldn't be changed, Tortorella and the Lightning players pumped Boyle up about things that can.
"Torts laid it all out there for him," said Brad Lukowich, Boyle's defensive partner of two years. "He told Boyler that we needed more from him, we needed him to get in there and get up in the play. Danny is one of our offensive leaders, one of our momentum changers, and we wanted him to do those things."
And he did.
Boyle logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time and was a plus-2. And, four minutes into the third period, he pinched in aggressively from the left point, caught a centering pass from Brad Richards and buried the puck behind Miikka Kiprusoff for a 3-0 Tampa lead. He nearly scored again on his next shift during a scuffle in front of the net.
"It was awesome," said Boyle after the 4-1 win. "Obviously, it's been a rough couple of days. Sleeping hasn't been good. But I knew the team and myself had to come up with a big game."
Now Boyle's Lightning head to Calgary, having split the first two games in Tampa. For a few days, his soot-covered walls will be 2,900 miles behind him. There is nothing he can do to fix them, but there are other things he can work on.
"Boyler has been good in the playoffs, he's battled injuries and overcome huge obstacles to be playing, and then this happened," said Lukowich. "He had every excuse to fall off. And rather than go down a notch, he brought everything up a notch. That's just the kind of character guy he is."
And his character has to do with a lot more than just hockey games.
The Magazine's Lindsay Berra can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.