Boyle on the rise – playoff key?March 29, 2012, by
In his first two seasons in New York Brian Boyle seemed to run out of steam towards the end of the season, at least offensively. This year he’s getting better as the Rangers approach the regular season finish line; as 3 goals in 4 games and an increased physical presence would suggest.
Boyle is looking more physically engaged, is a reliable faceoff performer and all of a sudden is beginning to flash his offensive side again. He’ll never be a good finisher – in fact he is anything but – however Boyle can create offense simply by using his natural attributes by using that massive frame of his and getting to the net as much as possible. His goal against the Jets Wednesday night was all about Boyle being up close and winning battles.
The most exciting thing about Boyle returning to some kind of offensive consistency is the mismatches he can then create. For the most part this season, teams haven’t given his line much (if any) respect in regard to what they can do in the opposing end and teams would therefore stack their talent up against the Rangers best. This would naturally increase the difficulty for Gaborik and company.
With Boyle suddenly getting hot his line could be a key side-note of a successful playoff run, and not for their defense. Tortorella recently bemoaned the frailties the Boyle line were showing defensively. However if they are better offensively, almost by default they are more secure defensively. The big Boston man won a key faceoff before his goal, evidencing that he is a key performer in the circle and should his offense draw more attention he won’t just be getting draws in the defensive zone as has been the recent trend.
Teams often have success in the playoffs because of their depth and the ability of the unsung types to step forward when goals become increasingly scarce. If Boyle can sustain some kind of offensive consistency he could just become that unsung hero the Rangers look for in the playoffs.