Brian Boyle pulled no punches when assessing his performance in the Rangers' 3-2 loss to Washington at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
"I stunk. I got to do better," Boyle said Tuesday.
The forward had missed three straight games with a concussion before making his return. He had 15:20 minutes of ice time in his first game back since suffering a concussion on April 21.
"I can play better. I know I can. And that's what I'm going to try to do," Boyle said. "I'm not going to make excuses. It wasn't the way I wanted to play. Just got to be more determined to do more."
Boyle had not played in more than a week before returning but he did not want to blame the rust on why he believes he did not play well. He said he physically felt fine and there are no ill effects from the concussion. He took just one shot in the game.
He seemingly blamed himself for Washington's game-winning goal in the third. With Washington on the power play, he lost the faceoff in the Rangers' end and then was not able to get in front of Alexander Ovechkin, who sniped a long-distance goal that gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead they held to even the series at 1-1.
"I didn't really do anything and then I was a pretty big reason they scored the third goal," Boyle said after the team's optional practice at Madison Square Garden. "I'm not going to accept that and the coaches won't either. So I have to do better."
Before he suffered the concussion, Boyle had been playing what he believed was probably his best stretch of hockey in the NHL. He had three goals in five games against Ottawa in the quarterfinals, including the game-winner in games 1 and 3. He was confident with his play and "the pucks were going in." Boyle scored just 11 goals in the regular season.
After missing the final two games against Ottawa as well as the Game 1 win against Washington, all three of which were Ranger wins, he made his return Monday. Since this was the first time he was dealing with a concussion, getting through that first contact during the game and coming out OK helped him feel more comfortable.
"I've never been in that situation before, but it didn't change the way I wanted to play," Boyle said. "I wasn't focused on it. Thinking about it now, I'm fine."
Boyle believed the team played pretty well in the loss, although there were some mistakes that need to be corrected. He wouldn't pinpoint any direct areas where the team had shortcomings, other than saying that the team has to do better and continue to elevate its game.
The Rangers face Washington in a pivotal Game 3 Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
"It's a fun building to play in," Boyle said of the Verizon Center. "They're going to play well. We have to go down there and try to win a game tomorrow night."