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SAN JOSE – Dan Boyle extended his point-scoring streak to five games in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Edmonton, depositing his third goal in as many games and adding an assist.
While a defenseman’s game should never be judged on points alone, something Boyle is frequently quick to point out, his uptick in production is notable. Prior to his current streak of six points in his last five outings, the 37-year-old had zero goals and six assists in his previous 27 games.
The turnaround is a welcome development as the Sharks try and shore up their game with just two weeks until the start of the playoffs. Having a healthy and effective Boyle, who admittedly came back too soon from a head injury in October, will be necessary if San Jose is to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup.
‘When you’re an offensive player and the puck doesn’t go in, sometimes there’s a misconception. You go five, 10, 30 games without scoring a goal, everybody thinks you’re playing very poorly,” Boyle said on Tuesday. “Sometimes, that’s not necessarily the case.
“I’ve had some good stretches where I’ve played well, just haven’t been able to put the puck in the net. Obviously, the last three games I’ve been able to do that. It probably looks like I’m playing well, which I probably am, but for me it’s just about winning hockey games. That’s pretty much it.”
Head coach Todd McLellan likes what he sees from the 37-year-old veteran, who remains one of the leaders in the dressing room. That includes his presence on the top power play unit, which has been dominant lately and includes Boyle on one of the points. The Sharks have seven power play goals in the last four games, six of which came with Boyle on the ice.
“Boyler’s starting to look like Dan Boyle. I don’t know what you guys think, but he sure does to me, and that’s good timing,” McLellan said after Tuesday’s game. “Part of that is the confidence on the power play. He’s starting to make things happen there, bearing down on his shooting opportunities – all the positive things are happening for him right now, which is good to see.”
Boyle admitted he’s been consciously playing a more offensive game of late, due in part to San Jose trailing at one point in five of its last six. He’s back to being tied with Jason Demers for the team lead in scoring from the blue line, and each has 33 points in 70 games.
“I think when you’re an offensive guy and you don’t get points, the media – not just the media – but people are going to assume that you’re not playing well. What’s changed? I’m putting the puck in the net, guys are putting the puck in the net for me.
“Obviously, I’m playing a little more offensive, but that’s because we’ve needed it. We’ve had to come from behind, and that’s allowed me to push the pace a little bit more than before when we were playing real well, the forwards were doing their job. I didn’t have to jump in as much. That’s been a big difference.”