Posts tagged: Brian Boyle

Boyle returns to the ice

The best news of the day came from Rick Carpiniello, who broke the news that Brian Boyle was indeed on the ice and skating in practice. Boyle looks like he will return for the series against the Caps, meaning he will only have missed two or three games with his concussion.

Boyle’s return is huge news for the Rangers. They will now be dressing a full strength roster, something they haven’t done since Game Two against the Senators. It is expected that Boyle will replace John Mitchell in the lineup when he returns.

Replacing Boyle in the lineup

When Chris Neil took out Brian Boyle with a questionable hit on Saturday night, he took out the Rangers most effective forward. He took out their leading scorer, top defensive forward, and top penalty killer in this series. He took out the only player that has managed to get under the skin of the Senators. It’s a big blow to the Rangers, and not a player easily replaced. The best the Rangers can do is find some sort of lineup option that maximizes the return of Carl Hagelin, and minimizes the departure of Boyle. This is no easy task.

Side note: Is it great for the depth of the team to say that Boyle has been the best forward, or is it a sign of weakness in the top six? Tough call there.

The good news, as mentioned above, is that Hagelin will be returning to the lineup tonight after serving his three game suspension for elbowing and concussing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. The addition of Hagelin adds some much needed speed and puck possession to the lineup, which also helps minimize the negative effects of having their top defensive forward out of the lineup.

This leaves the Rangers with a few lineup options to consider for the game, and while none are perfect, they give the Rangers much needed flexibility.

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No suspension for Neil: Fair or foul?

News this morning broke that Chris Neil would not have a hearing –thus no suspension– for his hit on Brian Boyle that knocked the Rangers most dominant skater in this series* out of the game (and likely season) with a concussion. The hit (video below) had Boyle looking down at the puck while skating over the middle, and Neil specifically seeking him out ad delivering the hit.

*-It’s sad when Boyle is the most dominant skater in the series for the Rangers.

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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.

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What Chris Kreider really means

Chris Kreider doesn’t have to be a difference maker at this stage of his career even if that would be a nice bonus. What he needs to do is be able to add depth to the forwards and help Tortorella roll line after line and add his speed to the mix. Brian Boyle is exhibit A of how in the playoffs it’s often the depth that wins games and scores the big goals.

There will be plenty of games when the likes of Marian Gaborik get shutdown. It’s then that the likes of Brian Boyle need to be the difference. That’s why this Rangers team has the chance to go deep; because they have that depth. It’s one of the main reasons the Bruins won the cup last year; behind spectacular goaltending and depth. And we know this Rangers team has goaltending.

In game three, Kreider looked timid at first but grew as the game wore on. His line may have lacked cohesion but right now all Kreider has to do is hold Hagelin’s spot, learn on the fly and not be a liability. Kreider should stay in the line up when Hagelin returns because with both kids in the team and with Gaborik in full flight, there are not many teams that can match this kind of explosive speed up and down a line up.

Kreider should improve as the playoffs continue. Simply through more practice, a longer adjustment period and with fewer nerves (after all, it was his pro debut) Kreider should be able to become a bigger factor. In his 11:11 worth of ice time Kreider got better each shift. That’s no mean feat against a team that threw the kitchen sink at the Rangers towards the end.

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Rangers rob Sens; Recap

The Rangers gutted out a 1-0 victory over the Sens as both teams proved a low scoring game can be absorbing. Above all it was a goalie duel but the Rangers withstood heavy pressure, particularly in the third and rode their goalie and Brian Boyle to a 1-0 win. A great playoff game; let’s get to the game hits.

We’re doing things a little differently from here on in. The recaps will be a little briefer (I’m trying, honest….) and then one of the team will breakdown the goals in a little more detail for each game. So here goes. 

First Period

Sorry Glen, while starting Kreider was correct, it also showed how much John Scott was a waste of a draft pick. If he wasn’t seriously considered for this edgy, potentially nasty game then he was never going to be needed.

Earning your dues: Kreider may have started on the top line (in place of Hagelin) but during the early Rangers powerplay he didn’t get any time with the extra man. That kind of ice time has to be earned.

The period had a scrappy feel to it. Both teams struggled to  handle the puck well but the Rangers were especially inept in the possession stakes midway through the first allowing the Sens to get a few shots on Lundqvist and build some sustained pressure without being particularly threatening.

Brian Boyle’s line created two great chances with about 11 minutes elapsed in the first. Thanks to great board play and excellent pressure on the puck Boyle and Fedotenko both had great looks on Anderson in front. The shift epitomized the form Boyle is in; he was quick to the puck with his line looking dangerous. Brandon Prust was sharp throughout.

Great first from Callahan but you assumed that, I’m sure. He made plays on the penalty kill, was engaged physically (as always) and created a turnover late on and tried to feed the puck to the top of the crease but it got deflected. He always seems to be involved and always makes the right decision.

The first period was physical, as you would expect. No one missed an opportunity to finish a check; there were a few scrums and a few (at best) borderline hits such as the Michalek on Prust hit, from behind.

While the Sens got several shots on Lundqvist (12 in total), they were mostly from the perimeter and Lundqvist’s rebound control was excellent; anything he didn’t gobble up was diverted to the corners.

Biggest frustration of the period was the Rangers’ two on one when Fedotenko elected to pass which Karlsson managed to get in front of, close in. Karlsson clearly gave up the shot and Fedotenko couldn’t have been in a better position yet chose to pass.

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Guest recap: Rangers v. Senators, game 2

*None of us were able to get the recap last night, so the always reliable friend of the blog Glen Miller was able to give us an assist.  Don’t forget to give Glen’s current project, Fan Junkies a look, and follow Glen on Twitter.  Thanks again Glen!

If evidence was needed to prove a hotly contested playoff series can turn any two teams into bitter rivals, look no further than the series between the Rangers and Senators. Prior to this postseason affair between the two it would have been unlikely to hear any fan of one describe the other club as a rival. That has all changed after game two of the series, won by the Senators 3 – 2 in OT.

Now, on to the game.

Period One

  • Sens coach Paul MacLean set the tone for the contest before the opening puck drop by inserting Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner into the lineup in place of Kaspars Daugavins and Matt Gilroy. The goal was clear; MacLean wanted to play a more physical brand of hockey. It would take just 2:15 for the game to get physical.

Apparently not happy with Brian Boyle’s actions toward young defenseman Erik Karlsson in game one, Carkner went looking for the Rangers big center. He found him and appeared to challenge Boyle to a fight, something Boyle seemed to decline. Carkner wouldn’t take no for an answer and sucker-punched Boyle, knocking him to the ice before throwing several more punches to the body.

A melee ensued with all 10 skaters joining in. With Carkner landing punch after punch and the linesmen late in getting involved, Brandon Dubinsky would jump in to remove Carkner from Boyle. Once order was restored, for the moment at least, the officials would gather to decide on the resulting penalties.

Carkner would get two for roughing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct. Dubinsky surprisingly would also get two for roughing and a game misconduct for being third guy in an altercation. The Rangers would end up with a full five-minute PP chance out of it all. Unfortunately the Blue Shirts couldn’t get anything going on their first man-advantage opportunity.

  • Chris Neil would continue the Senators targeting of Boyle when he too challenged Boyle at 8:17. This time Boyle would accept the invitation. The fight didn’t last long and no one landed any big-time punches but it was important for Boyle to stand up for himself.
  • Just 0:15 later, Sergei Gonchar would take a tripping penalty and give the Rangers their second man-advantage. This time the Blue Shirts would capitalize with Anton Stralman sneaking a slapshot by Craig Anderson. The goal was assisted by Dan Girardi and Artem Anisimov. For Anisimov it was his third assist of the series.
  • The goalies would trade great saves late in the period. Hank would stop a deking Nick Foligno with the right pad on a mini-breakaway. Anderson, following a late elbowing penalty to Chris Phillips, stoned Ryan Callahan all alone in front of the cage with just 0:46 left in the period.
  • The first frame would end with each team getting 10 shots on goal and the Rangers holding onto a 1 – 0 lead.

Period Two

  • The Rangers controlled play for the better part of the first half of period two out-chancing the Senators 6 – 1 according the numbers given by NBCSN.
  • During the physical first period, the Rangers maintained discipline. That changed in period two. Carl Hagelin got his elbow up into the head of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson on a check along the LW boards at 10:32. The refs would assess a major penalty to the Rangers rookie and the Senators would take advantage.
  • Karlsson, held in check for much of the game to this point, drew the Sens even on the ensuing PP. From behind the goal line on the RW side Karlsson snapped a puck toward the front of the net where it deflected off the skate of Michael Del Zotto and into the net. Filip Kuba earned the lone assist on the goal.
  • Later Karlsson appeared to get away with a slew foot to Richards but the referees certainly did catch the retaliation and penalized Richards two minutes for roughing. The Rangers would kill off the PP.
  • Despite an early advantage in play, the Rangers would only finish the period with a 12 – 10 lead in shots. Read more »

Rangers/Capitals recap

The Rangers dropped a tough one to the Caps tonight by the score of 4-1.  The Rangers actually played pretty well, controlling most of the action after a quick Washington start.  They just ran into a hot goalie and some bad luck.  Washington clinched the 7th seed in the  East with the win, meaning the Rangers will take on the Ottawa Senators in the first round.  Onto the bullets…

1st period

  • The Caps struck quick with two goals in the first 2:18 of play.  Alex Ovechkin wired a shot through a tough screen right off the draw for a 1-0 lead, and Matthew Perreault deflected a shot from the point past Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead.
  • The two goals seemed to wake the Rangers up a little bit.  They began to get more aggressive on the forecheck and creating some chances.  Braden Holtby had to make several key saves and Ryan Callahan blasted one off the post on a shorthanded chance.
  • The Rangers began to take control of the puck possession and were aggressively pressuring Washington in all areas of the ice.  Things were starting to tilt towards the Rangers side of the ice.
  • Brad Richards then proceeded to take a hooking penalty, which the Rangers successfully killed and generated Callahan’s aforementioned post.  Just as the penalty to Richards had expired, Ryan McDonagh chipped the puck directly into the crowd for a delay of game penalty.
  • On the ensuing power play, John Carlson ripped a shot from the point, which glanced off Derek Stepan, and past Hank for a 3-0 Washington lead.
  • Honestly, aside from something of a rough start defensively, the Rangers actually didn’t play that poorly.  They caught some bad breaks on deflections and screens. Read more »

Boyle on the rise – playoff key?

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.

Rangers Outlast Jets – Recap

Excuse the briefness of the recap today guys, Dave had the audacity to be out on his birthday and none of us could see the entire game from the beginning so here’s just a few thoughts from yours truly from what I did see.

The importance of discipline? The Rangers were not good in the first period but those penalties really did turn the tide and momentum all in the Jets way and that was exhibit A for why this team has to stay disciplined going forward.

That said, the penalty kill had an immediate opportunity to atone for the night in Minnesota and did so remarkably well. Consider the Penalty kill back on its game.

We’ve almost run out of superlatives for Ryan McDonagh yet it’s scary to think he has only recently passed 100 career NHL games. In his first full year he has a 30 point season which is evidence he has great ability both ends of the ice. If he carries this rate of development up he may be Sather’s best acquisition as Rangers GM and there have been many good ones.

Why should you be excited about this team? It was the second of back to backs, the momentum was all against them against a team strong at home and they were two down middle of the second. It clearly didn’t faze them. They found a way to win. They showed desire. If this team can continue to have this kind of back bone it bodes so well for the future.

Ryan Callahan is the best captain in the NHL. If he’s not the best, then there are very few that can match him. He literally does (and did) it all for the Rangers. He deserves a 30 goal season merely for the added recognition it will give him and his offensive ability.

Brad Richards is truly buzzing on the puck lately. His confidence level is off the charts and is actively taking people on with the puck and creating space and opportunities all the time; great timing with the playoffs looming.

The powerplay looked good against the Jets. The second goal was a result of great movement and puck retention. The Jets looked exhausted before the puck broke to Stepan who has an underrated shot that he should use more.

Michael Del Zotto has 38 points in 72 games, as a 21 year old. I’ll say no more. If you follow me on Twitter you know my feelings on the haters and whiners.

Dubinsky is running out of time isn’t he? If he hasn’t already.

Final Thought:

The Jets had their moments and the Rangers struggle to handle guys like Evander Kane while Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little give the Jets some legitimate offensive potential but whether it was the Rangers conditioning, their superior depth or their greater desire, they deserved to win this game. It was a character building game and keeps the Pens at arm’s length. A great win on the end of a back to back.

Three Stars:

  • Ryan Callahan (who else?)
  • Brian Boyle (two way threat when he wants to be)
  • Mike Del Zotto (a difference maker)

Next Up: Montreal at home, a very winnable game for your Rangers.