Sharks question No. 6: Will Boyle return to form?

Sharks question No. 6: Will Boyle return to form?
February 19, 2014, 4:45 pm
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Statistically, things weren’t really good last month, but oddly enough I think I played pretty well. You guys are going to disagree because statistically, it was horrible.
Dan Boyle

Over the next several days leading up to the Sharks' next game on Feb. 27, we'll count down eight questions facing the team as it gets set to start the stretch run.

Question 6 – Will Dan Boyle return to form?

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle has heard the chatter. Suffice it to say, he doesn’t agree that he’s been a season-long funk since a scary head injury in St. Louis on Oct. 15.

(Note: The below quotes read much, much harsher than the tone in which they were uttered. Boyle was polite and professional, as he always is, and even had a slight smile on his face in answering a question about how the Olympic break might help his game).

“What can you say about me? I mean, you can say whatever you want, you guys do anyways. I read the articles that this is going to be really good for me, and how I’ve been struggling all year, so you guys tell me.

“I’m 37 now. It’s not about individual points. I’ve been telling you guys that for years now. Statistically, things weren’t really good last month, but oddly enough I think I played pretty well. You guys are going to disagree because statistically, it was horrible. I think a break is good for everybody. I definitely did have a rough couple of months after the head injury, but hopefully I’ll benefit from a break, just like everybody else.”

Boyle has eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 51 games, with a minus-8 rating. He had just one assist in the final 14 games before the break, and was a minus-5 over that span. The power play struggled mightily, going 1-for-29 over the last nine games. While that’s certainly not all on Boyle, he is fourth on the team in ice time with a man advantage, and typically quarterbacks the top unit.

The defenseman, still a pending unrestricted free agent, has had to overcome a number of medical issues. He admitted he probably returned from the head injury too soon, and suffered through a lack of sleep and appetite after getting knocked unconscious from a hit from behind by the Blues’ Maxim Lapierre. It was learned shortly before the break that Boyle was dealing with a thumb injury for the last six games, and he admitted on Wednesday that he’s still not completely healed.

Todd McLellan looks forward to seeing a completely healthy Boyle, as the defenseman is still one of the key components to a defense corps that ranks fourth in the NHL in goals-against.

“He’s a player that’s played a lot of games throughout his career, and to have the rest that we just had has to be beneficial to him both physically and mentally. He’ll regroup, he’ll come back, and he’ll be the Dan Boyle that we know,” McLellan said.

“When you’re counted on as much as Dan is, when you have a skill game, the creative game, the game that he has to play, when you have to man the power play and run it and make it efficient, you have to be healthy. ... This break will certainly help him in that area.”