Only ten weeks ago, the Los Angeles Kings were victorious over the New Jersey Devils to win the 2012 Stanley Cup, the first in the franchises’ forty-five year history. Since then, the focus has shifted from the ice to the office, passing through a busy free agency period, a few historic trades, and now the turbulent nature of contract negotiations that may sideline yet another NHL season.
While the prospect s of even having an NHL season in 2012/2013 remain indefinite due to the pending lockout, the New York Rangers continue to be focused on improving their chances for a Stanley Cup in 2013, and are, ironically, looking to former L.A. King Brian Boyle to help them get there.
Boyle was selected by the Kings in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft before going on to have a successful post-secondary career with Boston College. In his senior campaign with the BC Eagles, Boyle recorded 53 points in 42 games, almost ensuring himself a spot with the struggling L.A. Kings.
Boyle, however, spent the better part of three seasons with the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, being called up only for 36 games and receiving limited ice time.
Not seeing a future for Boyle in Los Angeles, the Kings traded the AHL All-Rookie Team designated forward to the Rangers for a third-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft on June 27, 2009. While Boyle continued to struggle in the Big Apple in 2009/2010, the 6’7”, 245-pounder found a permanent place on an NHL roster, playing in 71 games for the Blue Shirts that season.
Under Rangers’ Head Coach, John Tortorella, Boyle thrived in the following seasons. In 2010/2011, Boyle had the best year of his professional career, scoring 21 goals and adding 14 assists for 35 points. More importantly, Boyle contributed in all 82 games for the Rangers, averaging over 15:00 of ice time per game and adding some much-needed grit to the lower lines.
“Boyler” continued to flourish under the New York Rangers system in 2011/2012, and while his point total declined to 26 points on the season, he continued to make his mark, ranking fifth on the team in shots on goal. Moreover, Boyle won 51.8% of his draws in the face-off circle, matching that of Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky, and ensuring the Rangers iced a veritable four-line depth for every contest that extended throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.
Boyle has the potential to increase his offensive production from that of last year. The 27-year-old was on fire heading into the playoffs in 2012, scoring 3 goals in each of his first three games before being forced out of the lineup due to a concussion courtesy of Senators thug Chris Neil. While he was clearly not on the top of his game when he returned three games later, Boyle contributed three additional points throughout the playoffs before suffering defeat to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As the Rangers look forward to the upcoming season, Boyle will again be relied upon to provide some sandpaper to the club, while adding some dirty offense to the lower lines. Boyle is not noted for his finesse, but rather banging and crashing, making room in front of the opposition’s net, and scooping up rebounds to get on the score sheet.
The Rangers have developed an identity of a hard-working, persistent, and bothersome group of players, and while not the most physical of players, Boyle can throw his heavy frame around to make lots of space in the offensive zone, giving 100% each and every shift.
It would not be out of reach for Boyle to attain the 40-point mark for the first time in his career in 2012/2013, and # 22 certainly will be looked upon to provide depth for the club throughout the season.
For Brian Boyle and the New York Rangers in 2012/2013, double-deuces are wild!
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