Is Boyle becoming what his pedigree promised?

If you hang out around hockey rinks long enough you always encounter guys who played at a pretty high level, but could never make that jump to the Show either due to some unfortunate injury or because they were told they didn’t have the size.

Although NHL forwards are getting smaller, the fact of the matter is there are thousands of players who have to walk away from their NHL aspirations every year because they “just weren’t big enough.”

Then you have a guy like Brian Boyle, who in skates is a towering 6’7. The narrative for the 27 year old has always been the opposite. Yea he’s big, but what else can he contribute? Well ladies and gents, we are starting to see what exactly Brian can do when he uses his colossal size to his advantage.

In the past 12 games Brian Boyle has scored 8 goals. That is a pace this man has not seen before, even looking back at last year when he potted 21 goals. Boyle is getting it done simply because he is using his size and strength to out-match his defenders. He may not be the greatest skater or have the smoothest hands, but when he has the puck and he’s driving towards the net, few defenders can force him off the puck and out of the danger zone.

Brian is also providing more than just goals. He has been the most consistent forward throughout the playoffs (and the preceding push) in all areas of the ice and he is receiving more ice-time as a result. He is getting to loose pucks, he’s blocking shots, he’s making plays, and most importantly he has been physically engaged. This is exactly what you need from your bottom six forwards in the playoffs.

Now I know some of his critics won’t be able to look past his subpar regular season numbers. However, when you take his stats and give them a little context, you realize maybe he wasn’t so average after all.

Boyle won about 52% of his faceoffs (up from 48% last season). He was second among all Rangers forwards with 83 blocked shots. He was second on the team with 236 hits. And he had just a -4 corsi (a puck possession metric based on shot attempts for and against) despite only starting 28% of his shifts in the offensive zone.

To put this corsi number in perspective, Boyle was in the bottom five players in the league in offensive zone starts. Those other four players had corsi numbers between -11 and -21, so his -4 is actually a good number when you consider the benchmark.

Of course the concern has been about his offense. Yet, if you look at the bottom 20 players in the league in offensive zone starts, only Paul Gaustad had a better offensive output per 60 mins than Boyle. In other words, his production actually exceeded that of his role and usage.

Look, Boyle may never touch 20 goals in a season again, but maybe that is not what we need from him. Maybe his importance to this team is a bit more than any of us gave him credit for. All I know is I am happy we have him on our side and I would love to see what the Stanley Cup looks like suspended 6 feet and 7 inches above Garden ice.

21 Responses to “Is Boyle becoming what his pedigree promised?”

  1. blueshirt in paris says:

    Great write up Suit. I’ve been banging the Boyle drum all season. He did run into some bad luck this season in regards to goal scoring but he more then made up for it in other areas.

    As you say he might not have hands of gold but I think there are few in the NHL with his size, relative speed and hands. Add to that a great locker room guy. If only he could learn how to throw a punch ;).

  2. Bobby G says:

    I most certainly agree. If Boyle was consistently a top 6 forward and not putting up good offensive numbers, then it would be a different story, but Boyle just simply isn’t used in that fashion. He has been spectacular in the role that he was given and any extra offensive output is a bonus as far as I’m concerned.

    • The Suit says:

      Agreed. I think he is good where he is on the third line and used as a shutdown center. Though I wouldn’t mind seeing him get some better linemates next season.

  3. Walt says:

    Suit
    Spot on with this article! Good job my man.

    Yesterday I posted that there were plenty of people who wanted Brian traded, because he had “hands of stone”.

    He usually is out there against the best players, in a checking capacity, and does a great job of it. Not everyone is going to be a Gretzky, and Boyle’s role is what it is, and he excels at it. Personally, give me another two Boyles, can you see a line like that, and we could shut down any scoreing line that they send against us.

  4. Dave says:

    Great post. I never thought I’d see the day when you use advanced metrics in your posts. It’s a new day ladies and gents!

  5. MBN says:

    Excellent write-up!! While Boyle had a disappointing season from a pure “goal-scoring” standpoint, he contributed in many other ways that are often unnoticed during games. Now, with his playoff scoring, his overall game is becoming more known to all.

  6. Dave says:

    Chara bloomed late too, seems the taller guys need more time. If that’s the case, then Boyle was a steal.

  7. becky says:

    Great post Suit. I think it’s important to point out how much more confidence he’s gotten, due to learning how to skate as well. Watching him play with this kind of confidence gives the Rangers the boost that I think is going to push them all the way to the Cup. That shorthanded play that ended the Sens’ PP in the 3rd period Monday put a smile on my face that I don’t think has left yet.

      • Chris F says:

        I was ecstatic when Boyle scored. I felt like a little kid, I couldn’t control myself. It’s amazing how much I want to see Boyle succeed. I hope that he’s rubbing off on the team as much as he is on me.

  8. rob sahm says:

    can boyle turn into the next keith primeau or the next eric daze ?

    • The Suit says:

      Boy it would be great if he could. All I’d like to see for Boyle is better linemates, be a 30 point guy and continue shutting down the opposition.

  9. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Brian Boyle has been my pick as the guy who would be the X factor. I was his supporter when everyone wanted him traded. He does so much that goes unnoticed by fans. I have always considered him as part of the core.

  10. Red Stag says:

    Ottawa literally awakened a sleeping giant… maybe this will spark him to be an even better pro as he may be fully realizing his abilities.

  11. Tripodi says:

    Nice write up, glad to see Boyle stepping up his offense while still shutting down the opposing team. His defensive presence is big for the Rangers, from where Boyle was at the beginning of his time with the Rangers almost 3 years ago until now, his game has changed so much for the better. Who knows? Maybe this offseason and training camp he can add even more to his game.