OTTAWA – Brian Boyle has emerged as an unlikely hero in the New York Rangers’ Eastern Conference playoff series against Ottawa.
The Rangers forward has scored three goals, two of them game-winners, to help New York take a 2-1 quarter-final series lead against the Senators.
Game 4 is Wednesday in Ottawa.
“He’s played great,”said teammate Ryan Callahan.“Not only is he winning big faceoffs, killing penalties, blocking shots, but he’s putting the puck in the net too, which obviously helps.
“He’s been great for us and we need guys like that to step up for us to have success.”
The 27-year-old Boyle finished the regular season with 11 goals and 26 points, but had just two goals through the first half of the season and no career post-season points coming into the series.
However, the Rangers seem to thrive when Boyle gets on the score sheet. New York posted a 20-3-1 record in the regular season when Boyle registered a point.
Surrounded by cameras and microphones Boyle struggled to explain his recent success.
“I’m just trying to contribute in all facets and playing some good minutes. Do the physical stuff, playing defensively sound, killing penalties and contributing offensively. Those are all responsibilities when you get to play those minutes and you have the opportunity to do that.
“I’m trying to contribute, I’m trying to be a difference maker in these games that really, really matter. A lot of guys are doing that, a lot of guys are playing well.”
For the Senators he is the thorn in their side that they need to contain.
“But we can do a better job on him I think, getting more physical and get in his face a little bit and make it real tough on him,”said Ottawa’s Nick Foligno.
Boyle, who has 12 siblings, says he’s been flooded by text messages from his family.
“They’re very, very supportive. I’m very lucky to have their support and they’ve been supportive all year.”
He also received a number of texts from friends, including one from Canadian Olympic figure skater Barb Underhill, who Boyle credits to helping jumpstart his career.
The two met in June 2010 and worked diligently on improving Boyle’s skating. The results were dramatic for Boyle, who posted career numbers in 2010-11, and he continued to work with Underhill, including this past off-season.
“She was great; she was so committed to helping me get better,”recalled Boyle.“She pushed me really hard. We put a lot of hours in. It’s helped me with my agility and my straight ahead speed has been increased and my efficiency with which I’m skating. It’s really helped my game and my confidence.”