When the New York Rangers brought Dan Boyle in over the off-season, they saw themselves adding a veteran defenseman, who has a wealth of playoff experience, and the ability to run the power play as a right-handed shot. Fast forward to the playoffs and Boyle is 5th on the Rangers in points this post-season, is logging a respectable 19:33 per game, and has been manning the point on the Rangers power play. Boyle has been doing some great things under the radar, and if the Rangers move on Boyle will be a big reason.
Dan Boyle has taken some really hard shots this post-season. Despite the heavy collisions, he has found ways to come back and be productive.
Below I pulled up some videos that display Boyle taking a hard hit to try to make the right play.
The Joel Ward goal in Game 1 of the Conference Semi Finals was really hard for Rangers fans to swallow. The Rangers had tied the game at 1, had looked good for a few shifts, and then saw Ward suck the life out of the building slamming home an Alexander Ovechkin feed.
Now after this game I saw several people knock Dan Boyle all over the place for this goal, but it wasn’t his fault. Boyle actually showed a ton of guts on this play. At 12 seconds of this video (6.6 seconds left on the game clock) Boyle tries to eat the puck on the wall knowing that Capitals are bearing down on him, and knowing he will pay a physical price. Sure enough Boyle gets crunched in the numbers and goes down in a heap; suddenly the play that could have been called a penalty, ends up in the back of the net.
Boyle doesn’t rim the puck around from this position, because if he does it will very likely be on the stick of a wide open defender looking to rip a shot through traffic. Instead he takes a hit trying to make a play and it simply doesn’t work as expected. If your going to blame anyone on this goal it should be Derek Stepan or Ryan McDonagh, as they both get caught chasing Ovechkin behind the net.
On this play notice the Rangers have nothing going on in the neutral zone, so Boyle decides to activate to try to gain the zone, he does and Brooks Orpik (number 44 in white) levels him. Boyle did get caught looking down, but he was jumping into a tough spot to try to get his team going offensively. Boyle did miss the remainder of this game, but was back for Game 1 against the Lightning.
Boyle is one of the veterans on the team having played in 122 career playoff games, his overall performance is what you would want from the defender, and he has a calm about him that helps him lead by example. Boyle offered encouraging words to the media prior to game three against the Tampa Bay Lightning, following an awful Game 2 loss in New York, when asked about how his team constantly responds, Boyle replied, “For us you have to keep it pretty steady win or lose, and just stick together. I think it’s important that this locker room sticks together through the tough times and I think that’s been a key to our success.”
What I noticed in this interview, was how cool, calm, and collected Boyle was. Some younger players like Ryan McDonagh seemed really frustrated after being dominated in game 2, but the veteran defender is just going about his business and practicing what he’s preaching.
Boyle stepped up in this game 3 where he suggested the team move forward. He had an assist on the power play, and added the game tying goal late in the 3rd period, moving in from his point to stand in the net mouth. Boyle seemed so relieved when he scored, he had been taking tons of criticism, so to score such a big goal must have been a boost.
Consistent Decision Making
For a while the Rangers were riding Keith Yandle on the power play, but lately they have been giving Dan Boyle the point on the man advantage, he is currently averaging 2:52 per game which is 1st among Rangers defenseman in power play time. The Rangers power play has been streaky, but Boyle has been doing a great job of finding a way to get puck through from high in the zone.
I found a few examples below.
This is a harder play than it seems. Boyle has to be aware of shooting the puck into a defender, because if it hits the man it could be a breakaway for the Lightning. Keeping that in mind Boyle finds a lane and fires the puck off the pass to create a good chance.
I like this play, because he finds a way to get the defender to move to get the shot through to Bishop. The play is subtle, he fakes the initial slap shot to look at what’s in front of him. Once he does that, he finds a way to get the puck to the net.
I see people bash Boyle all day long, but frankly I think he has done whats expected of him. He is finding ways to help the Rangers produce on offense. He’s been speaking to the media and trying to maintain the teams composure, and he’s been taking a beating physically to help this club win games. It’s very easy to sight mistakes made in hockey games, every player in the world makes mistakes. With Boyle I’m asking you to notice the 9 good things he does a game to every 1 bad thing.