Archive for Brian Boyle

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

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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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Categories : Forwards, Playoffs
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Rangers rob Sens; Recap

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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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*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→
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Rangers/Capitals recap

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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→
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Boyle on the rise – playoff key?

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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.

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Rangers Outlast Jets – Recap

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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. 

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Recap: Rangers v. Wild

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On a night where the lowly Islanders of all teams were able to stop the freight train that is the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers gutted out a much needed win in Minnesota, 3-2 over the Wild, to extend their Eastern Conference lead to 3 points with 6 to play.  Brian Boyle had a big game for the Rangers, scoring a goal, winning key face-offs and playing a solid physical game.  Let’s get to the bullets…

1st Period

  • The first period started off physical.  Both teams are low-scoring, physical groups and they acted like it to start the tilt.  For the first 10 or so minutes, the teams traded pedestrian scoring chances.
  • As the period progressed, the Rangers started to sustain more pressure and create some decent scoring chances.  They fell victim to a quick whistle on a play where the puck was clearly loose in the crease, and by the time the puck had made its way to the back of the net, the play was long dead.
  • Marian Gaborik was flying during the first period.
  • The Rangers would finally break the scoreless tie at the 11:23 mark when a shot from Anton Stralman was redirected and a scrum in front of the net ensued.  Brandon Dubinsky got the shot past Josh Harding and Brian Boyle popped it in the back of the net. 1-0 Rangers.
  • The Blueshirts had two power play chances in the first, and the unit actually looked pretty good.  The puck movement was there and they were getting shots to the net.  Unfortunately, the results didn’t match up with the effort and the score remained 1-0.
  • The Rangers dominated the first for the most part, outshooting the Wild 13-6.  Josh Harding had to be, and was, the best player on the ice for Minnesota.

2nd Period

  • Brian Boyle took a delay of game penalty to start the 2nd period when Mikko Koivu pressured the big pivot into sending the puck over the glass.  The Rangers would fall into some bad shot blocking luck on the PK. Callahan had to play with a broken stick after blocking a shot, and Ryan McDonagh was left limping after another block.  Kyle Brodziak was able to pot a rebound on a shot that Hank would probably want back.  1-1.
  • After seeing the overall physicality wane in the latter half of first, it returned again in the second.
  • The Rangers would regain the lead on Marian Gaborik’s 38th goal of the season, off a beautiful feed from Brad Richards.  Richards won the draw and followed the puck down low, finding a lane to Gaborik.  Absolute thing of beauty to see Richie finding his game at the right time. 2-1 Rangers.
  • Shortly after the Rangers took the lead again, some miscommunication in the slot between John Mitchell and Mike Rupp resulted in a fantastic save by Henrik Lundqvist, and an interference penalty by Marc Staal.  This was a case where they were both looking for the other to clear the puck, and the whole play broke down.
  • The Rangers were subsequently burned on the ensuing power play by some beautiful passing by the Wild.  Mikko Koivu would eventually deposit the puck into a wide open net off a great feed from Dany Heatley. 2-2.
  • For the second half of the period, the Wild controlled the play.  They won battles along the walls and pinned the Rangers back in their zone for long periods of time.  It was a blessing when the buzzer went off.

3rd Period

  • Brandon Dubinsky, who had played a strong first two periods was rewarded by starting on a line with Callahan and Stepan.  Dubi was all over the place tonight and was rewarded for his strong play.
  • The Rangers looked like a team trying to hold onto the point that they would receive if this game went to overtime.  They were tentative in all areas of the ice, which led to some chances for Minnesota.  Hank was up to the task and made some key saves in the third.
  • The third continued in a fairly uneventful fashion until the Blueshirts struck with a little under 7 minutes to go.  Ryan McDonagh made a nice pinch and carried the puck down low.  He tried to throw the puck toward the net, but it fortuitously bounced off a Wild defender and right onto the stick of Ruslan Fedetenko.  He was able to beat Josh Harding on the far side and give the Rangers the lead and the win. 3-2 Rangers.

Goaltending Analysis

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Musings: The Playoff and Penguin Edition

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Good morning Thursday people. Apparently this is the morning where you’ve woken up to the biggest game of the season. Some media darling is skating into the garden today, he’s quite good apparently. Whatever.

Here’s a statistic for you: (I bragged about it earlier this year when I was in New York with Dave, the Suit and co.) Sidney Crosby is winless in Penguins games that I have attended. I say, long may that continue. I was there in November for the 4-3 victory over Sidney and his boys and I saw him twice in his rookie year in Canada. 0 and 3 Sidney, and don’t you forget it.

I’m going to stop lavishing praise on Carl Hagelin soon. It’s becoming boring and predictable.

The Gaborik – Richards – Hagelin line; the performance (as a line) against the Canes was both impressive and promising. I’ve a pretty good memory and for me, that was the most dominant one game performance by a Rangers line since the Jagr days during his 54 goal season. Any other alternatives you want to suggest?

Reasons we love Ryan Callahan: He had no qualms about going on the radio the other day and insisting the Rangers would go straight at Crosby. You know he’ll back his words up too. If he plays.

Back to the November Pens victory at the Garden: The Rangers dominated that game in the faceoff circle and was surely a key to the success. Richards was 13-3, Boyle 11-4, Dubinsky 11-5 and even Stepan was 5-3. The Blueshirts will likely need to win the faceoff battle again tonight.

Something I asked on Twitter the other day; is the current edition of Gaborik the best ever (so far)??

I am hard on him but I would love to see a quality performance from Anisimov tonight. He’s surely due. For the record; I am only hard on him because he’s so talented but we don’t see it enough. Just like his shot.

Kudos Time: Brian Boyle has been very impressive recently. Starting to find a rhythm offensively, playing the body more (even if it could be even more), defensively he’s been his usual excellent self and his penalty killing has been a joy to watch. If Boyle is on form heading in to the playoffs that gives the Rangers another dimension.

If the Rangers win tonight and conclude the home stand with at least 5 of 7 as victories, I’m resting Dan Girardi for a game or two.

Same goes for Prust and I’m also careful with Callahan.  It would also give an opportunity to give Zuccarello more ice time. Audition time Hobbit.

If the Rangers do the unthinkable and lose tonight, does that make the Avalanche game a crucial-win? The Devils, Red Wings and a suddenly surging (and still desperate) Sabres team follow tonight. That’s quite the threesome up next.

If you’re a Rangers fan you’re cheering for Buffalo and Washington right now, by the way. You’d much rather them in the first round than Ottawa or the Devils who are far more awkward opponents.

Question Time:

  • If you had to choose: Boston or Ottawa as 1st round opponent?
  • More points this season: McDonagh or Dubinsky?
  • If you could only retain one: Fedotenko or Mitchell?
  • If you could only retain one part 2: Bickel or Eminger?

Game day, folks. Get your game faces on, avoid happiness in work. Don’t be fazed by happy people, Knicks fans or anyone from Pennsylvania. If you see a Penguins fan hip check them in to the side walk. (Dave, can I promote violence on the blog? No?) OK, scratch that last one folks….

My prediction: Rangers win 3-2 in OT. Sidney’s futile run against his arch nemesis (me) continues.


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Rangers Refuse to Lose; Beat Isles in OT

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The Rangers willed themselves to a 4-3 overtime win over the Islanders tonight. Trailing three times, on the receiving end of some questionable refereeing and unlucky breaks that resulted in Islanders goals, this team refused to give in and got the three points their play deserved. The better team won tonight. To the game points:

First Period

The Islanders and Rangers sleep walked through the first half of the first period. The Rangers played conservatively, perhaps timidly (given their recent slump, not a surprise) and the Islanders were more than happy to go along with that start. The slow start meant zero offensive zone pressure from either team and almost no shots to speak of.

Brian Boyle laid on a big, clean hit early in the first. If he used his body as effectively as he did with that hit – more often – he’d be a scary hockey player.

Another unnecessary Bickel duel. That aside, Bickel was solid tonight.

Whenever the Rangers raised the ante in the last few minutes of the first, they put pressure on the Isles and generated offense. A few solid scoring chances came out of the last five, six minutes because the Rangers did a better job of getting the puck in deep, and controlling the boards.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, Evgeni Nabakov was tremendous in the first period and made smart stops on Mitchell in front and Dubinsky.

The Tavares goal was from a quick break out from the Isles zone and the Rangers being unprepared. The forwards were slow to get back and the defensemen were too close together allowing Parenteau space on the right and thus able to get his shot off cleanly. Lundqvist gave up a juicy rebound in front and Girardi swatted the puck straight in to Tavares who was driving to the net. Several Rangers looked sloppy on the goal.

The Dubinsky line had a real strong shift late on. The line displayed great puck control, impressive strength and determination along the boards– particularly from Dubinsky – that led to a few opportunities and a great Dubinsky chance that Nabakov was equal to.

The shift was everything that’s good about Dubinsky: hustle, strength and determination resulting in generating his own scoring chance.

The game tying goal: Like with Dubinsky it was a showcase of everything good about Brad Richards. He skated coast to coast with the puck, beat a defenseman up the middle and used another as a screen to get his quick wrist shot off that beat Nabakov. Richards has such puck carrying ability and we don’t see it nearly enough.

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