Boyle Proving His Worth

Throughout this season, I've discussed Brian Boyle's under-rated contributions to the Rangers. From faceoffs, to his work on the penalty kill to locker room presence. And each time, a number of readers took that opportunity to completely rip Boyle for his inadequacies.

Well, I've decided to use Boyle's recent offensive explosion (yes, two goals is an explosion for him) to try and convert some of you Boylism. And I've brought along some friends to assist me.

My first witness is head coach Alain Vigneault (CBS New York)…

"Brian, what he does, when you talk about contributions through the lineup, you need that. Boyle has done a good job for us in helping us kill penalties and he’s found other ways to contribute.”

Next, I'd like to call Rick Nash to the stand (CBS New York)…

"(Boyle's) one of the good faceoff guys, good penalty killer. He’s a big man who can get in on the forecheck.”

Finally, I'd like to ask Anton Stralman to discuss Boyle's work on the penalty kill in overtime against Columbus Monday night (CBS New York)…

“On the 3-on-4 at the end, he was obviously big for us, blocking shots and doing the hard work.”

Still not convinced? How about this from Thomas Drance at theScore who ranked Boyle the fourth best penalty killing forward this season…

"Boyle is having a tremendous season on the defensive side of the puck in New York, and has been extraordinarily effective short-handed. Boyle leads all Rangers forwards in short-handed ice-time this season, and has started 111 times in the defensive end in 4-on-5 situations this (more than 50 times more often than the next closest Rangers forward)…Boyle's skyscraper frame, extended reach and quality instincts make him uniquely effective at breaking up cross-seam passes short-handed."

Tide starting to turn yet? Let's look at some of his off-ice positives courtesy of Sean Hartnett of CBS New York

"He is an individual who young players gravitate toward in the locker room at MSG Training Center in Tarrytown. Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller, among others, often seek out his advice and lean on his experience.

Boyle holds court in his section of the locker room as he cracks jokes with Miller, Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. He’s respected, yet he also keeps things loose."

And finally, I'd like to call the defendant Brian Boyle to the stand (via Daily News)…

“You don’t want to be easily replaceable…You want to do everything you can to help your team win. Our penalty kill, the whole PK has done a good job all year. We don’t want to let teams set up. We don’t want them to get comfortable.”

…listen, I get it. Boyle is easily the softest big man in the NHL. He's slower than Pyatt and when he drops the gloves this usually happens…

…but I'm sorry, you can't overlook his ridiculous work on the 6th ranked penalty kill or his 56% on faceoffs. And for as soft as most of us make Boyle out to be he's third on the Rangers in hits with 87. Throw in the fact that he's one of the few Rangers players willing to stand up for a teammate (although not as often since Prust left) and Boyle is a very valuable piece of the puzzle. Not everyone on the team has to be Wayne Gretzky. A successful team needs players who are willing to do the little things and Boyle is one of the few players on the Rangers who does.

…Boyle's role has also been expanded recently as AV has been summoning the fourth line to shutdown opponent's top lines.

…i'm not sure if it's his 21 goal season in 2010-11 or his pre-concussion playoff performance against the Senators in 2011-12, but if Rangers fans have those kind of lofty expectations of Boyle, then yes you will be disappointed. Those performances were anomalies and not indicative of what Boyle's skill set is. If you take Boyle for what he really is, a fourth liner, who can win you a big faceoff and will work his ass off on the penalty kill then you'll never be disappointed by him again. Although getting Barb Underhill back in here to work with him on his skating again might not be the worst idea.

Boyle giraffe PhotoShop courtesy of reader AnnoyingJoe.

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