Boyle Bringing It

Hockey season is upon us, and oh hey, the Rangers are off to a 1-3-0 start, losing the last two games in utter blow-out fashion, sending the totally level-minded fanbase into a frenzy, because of course. And really, I get it. Losing 9-2 and 6-0 in consecutive games is horrifying. And we need to fix stuff, and fast. Only four games in, there’s plenty of time to turn this around, but it has to start soon.

I’m over here, though, with another concern in mind. My favorite player, Brian Boyle, hasn’t been the flashiest player the last couple years, and after being very close to being traded last April, he’s on the last year of his contract this year. His position on the team isn’t at all secure—at the least they could just let him walk at the end of the season as a UFA, or maybe they trade him mid-year to try and get something back for him. Many fans are annoyed he wasn’t traded over the summer. Me, I want him in blue for as long as possible. Which means I want him to have a fantastic year.

And you know what? Even though the season is very young, he is off to a hell of a start. I was feeling it during the games, but I wanted some proof, so I ran some numbers comparing his first four games of every year he’s been a Ranger. Using the 14 categories the NYR site’s boxscore gives us for each game, I can see that in 10 of those categories, Boyle’s stats are above average.

Boyler Analysis

Click for larger view.

A couple quick notes:
– The 64% faceoff stat in the 2009-2010 season is based on a 10-for-16 total; in the fourth game in 2013-2014, he was 16-21.
– The 2010-2011 season was his career year, a 20-goal season.

One thing I’d been noticing in these crazy games this season is that Boyle’s been getting a lot of shots, often good for at least #2 for the team on any night (in the Anaheim game, he tied for #1 with Richards and Callahan). As of this moment, he actually leads the team for the year with his 15 (though Nash has missed 1 and two-thirds games). The first instinct for anyone hearing this is to groan about the rest of the team not making shots—if Brian Boyle is your leading shooter, there must be a problem.

But looking at his past history, you can see that this year is a huge departure for his norm.

He had a really awful regular season last year. He admitted it, said he had to be better. What I’m seeing is that he’s taken it to heart, and he’s making it happen. He’s not scoring yet, but I think if he keeps putting up these kinds of numbers—and if his teammates can get their shit together to help him out—he’ll find the back of the net sooner rather than later. I’m saying he’ll have a goal before our home opener, and I would be very unsurprised if he had it in next week’s game in Washington.

So far, Boyle is one of our best players, and it’s not entirely due to the rest of the team being so discombobulated. He’s bringing it, he’s fighting for his place on this team. And I’m loving it. :D

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