People are aware Dan Boyle is having a good season, right?
— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) March 12, 2015
I’ll come right out and say it, my lingering anger over the departure of Anton Stralman has caused me to fall victim to bias. Through no fault of his own, the Rangers boneheaded front office chose to delete Stralman and add Dan Boyle. Which doesn’t preclude Boyle from being good for the Rangers (and he has been), but still righteously pisses me off. I’ve been a bit too harsh on Boyle during this season. Consider this my formal apology, which Boyle is most certainly not seeking.
Despite his obvious shortcomings; lack of foot speed, poor defensive zone coverage, age, and not being Stralman, Boyle has had himself a sneakily good season with the Rangers. He was added to provide offense, and even though he hasn’t often gotten on the score sheet (only 16 points), he has been contributing.
Boyle ranks third overall in 5v5 GF% for defensemen in the NHL with 66%. So despite Boyle’s obvious defensive zone weaknesses, the Rangers have scored two thirds of the goals at even strength with him on the ice. That’s a powerful statistic, partly explained by favorable usage (Boyle has the highest offensive zone start percentage amongst defensemen), but still indicative of Boyle’s ability to facilitate Rangers goal scoring with him on the ice (his teammates score 11.5% more goals with Boyle on the ice).
Not surprisingly, Boyle ranks fourth amongst defensemen in 5v5 scoring chances for (Stralman is number 1) and the Rangers have 10% more scoring chances with him on the ice. So even though Boyle hasn’t managed to get on the score sheet nearly as much as Rangers fans (and likely the front office) would like, he still has positively contributed to the offense during even strength play. Facilitating offensive chances (even if he’s not ultimately putting the puck in the net) is a skill set the Rangers hoped to get with Boyle and he has certainly provided that.
Rangers bloggers rightfully villainize Dan Girardi for being an anvil. Conversely, we should praise Boyle for being the polar opposite.
So good job Dan, I would give you a gold star if I had one.
(s/t war-on-ice.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com for the statistical goodness)