Jeff Woywitka had the same amount of points as Brian Boyle prior to last night’s game. While Boyle isn’t (or at least should not be) judged purely on offensive statistics that first comment is quite a damning statement given Woywitka is a throw-in and plays minimal minutes on the bottom defensive pair. Simply put Brian Boyle, even with his goal yesterday, hasn’t been good enough consistently (the key word) this season.
We’ve not seen the same improved skating from last year, there’s been an absence of Boyle driving hard to the net using his size to his advantage and generally Boyle has failed to impose himself on games. Boyle has been OK defensively, but isn’t taking the body as well as he did last year. He needs to do more. The thing is, despite all the big name players in the Rangers top six, the presence of Boyle in his 2010-11 form would go a long way to making this team much better.
Boyle is a huge part of this team. Why? With Boyle playing like he did at times last year this team is suddenly very deep down the middle. Without that Boyle the team is simply not as deep. A good Boyle, and a good line led by Boyle, creates match-up problems for opposing teams and gives the Rangers three strong lines with different skill sets to roll with confidence.
Boyle isn’t the only Rangers forward fighting with himself to be better. Brandon Dubinsky still isn’t justifying his new deal (sorry, one goal doesn’t cut it), Brandon Prust has been indifferent (cause or effect of Boyle’s year?) while Wojtek Wolski can’t get and stay in the line up. However, if Brian Boyle can get close to his level of play from last year he helps those around him. His line playing well helps the other lines and thus it truly could be a knock on effect.
Some people might forget that Boyle had a long scoreless streak last year as well. If his current form (at least offensively) continues questions may be asked whether he was merely on a hot streak last year and it was all a flash in the pan. So far, Boyle hasn’t received much criticism. Whether that’s because of his popularity or the fact his new deal isn’t as big as a guy like Dubinsky’s is a moot point. The Rangers need him to be better and sooner rather than later.