BRIAN BOYLE’S IMPORTANCE
Whether it’s the emergence of players like Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, or the documented struggles of players like Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash, one thing that’s gone unnoticed is Brian Boyle’s consistent play. He’s scored a goal in each of the last two games, but all year he’s been a solid veteran that head coach Alain Vigneault has been able to rely on heavily.
Many criticize Boyle for his lack of physical play and inability to use his six foot seven, 250 pound frame to their own liking. Although that may be a valid criticism, there’s still a lot he brings to to this team. Things he does that aren’t flashy or register in a standard box score.
Brian Boyle doesn’t score a lot of goals, you don’t see him on the highlight reels, but what you get is a solid defensive minded center that every team desperately needs. What does Boyle bring to the table? He’s one of the best defenders on this team. On a team where being -9 or -10 isn’t uncommon, Brian Boyle is only a -4. A lot of people don’t care for +/-, but it is another statistic that’s working in his favor.
He currently wins 56.9% of the faceoffs he takes, easily leading the team in this category. He averages over three blocked shots a game, and over eight hits a game. Boyler (as he’s known by teammates) is also safe with the puck and is a +1 in the turnover department. He may only be a 10 point player with 3 goals, but it’s clear from those statistics that Brian Boyle has a role, and it’s a role he’s done very well for the Rangers this year.
According to extraskater.com Alain Vigneault has deployed Boyle in the defensive zone for 50% of his shifts. Another major stat is that the big center plays 44% of his shifts shorthanded for the Rangers. Many fans take the art of penalty killing for granted and usually rest it totally on defensemen who clear creases or goalies making the saves. However the Rangers PK ranks 6th in the NHL at 85% and Boyle deserves a heap of that credit.
Sather has a big decision to make because he’s a free agent after this season. Boyle is 28 years old and in the last year of a 3 year, 5.1 million contract he signed with the Rangers. Why should we keep him? Well he’s relied heavily upon in our own end, consistently playing against other teams’ top lines. He’s on our first penalty killing unit and he’s great in the face off circle, always being near the top of the league in face off winning percentage. A lot of teams that have gaping holes defensively, such as the NY Islanders and NJ Devils would be very interested in bolstering their 3rd or 4th line with a player like Boyle this summer.
These are the reasons I think Brian Boyle is a very valuable member of this team, and I think it’s about time that others acknowledge this as well. All teams need players like him, the quiet unsung heroes that go out there and lay it all the line. Brian Boyle is that player and one we will miss if we lose him.
By: Connor Griffin