Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers hasn’t exactly been coach John Tortorella‘s favorite player this season. Often a healthy scratch, he’d played in 19 games this year and never managed to find the back of the net, plus he’d only managed to work up one assist way back at the end of January.
Considering that he had 11 goals and 15 assists last season, it’s reasonable to expect that he would have produced a little more by now, although of course the shortened length of the season is something to take into account.
So his performance in the matinee Sunday matchup against the Washington Capitals may be the first step to proving himself worthy of being regularly inserted into the lineup and allowed to play again.
Though he wasn’t named one of the three stars of the game, his second-period goal was important in many ways. Of course, it was his first of the season, which has to be a weight lifted from his shoulders. But it also inspired captain Ryan Callahan to pile on another goal less than a minute later while the Rangers were on the power play, thereby pushing the visiting Blueshirts ahead by two after dropping the first goal. Brad Richards, back from injury, later added a late third-period goal to make it a 4-1 final.
Besides, after the game, he was honored with the fedora bestowed upon the best player of the game. He explained that this is basically the start of a new season for him–that first 19-game stretch is gone now, yesterday’s news–and he’s going to keep battling to prove that he still belongs on the Rangers and in the lineup every night.
His next chance to keep proving himself and improving will come on March 12 against the Buffalo Sabres.