Boyle looks to bounce back by playing tight

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
4:01
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Brian Boyle was genuine in his frustration while recalling the final play of Sunday's intra-squad scrimmage.

Despite notching both goals for Team White, Boyle shook his head in referencing the waning moments, when defenseman Anton Stralman notched a power-play goal for Team Blue with 2.7 seconds remaining.

[+] EnlargeBrian Boyle
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesBrian Boyle will have to earn a spot on the Rangers roster.
Keep in mind this was not the regular season. Not even a preseason game, either. Just an organized scrimmage between teammates in training camp, a last-minute idea designed to give the new coaching staff a feel for their personnel in game-like situations.

"Anton scored that goal with just a few seconds left and that pissed me off," Boyle said. "It sucks. Probably because we haven't played anything meaningful in so many months, but I think that's like a lot of guys in here. You want to win. It's the worst thing in the world to lose."

That mentality seems consistent with the initial impression new coach Alain Vigneault received from the hulking centerman.

"The thing that stood out to me is that he wants to win," Vigneault said about the 28-year-old Boyle after the scrimmage.

Vigneault said Boyle has been eager to ask questions and learn as much as possible about the new system. One of the most important principles Vigneault has already tried to instill is the need to play in the dirty areas of the ice.

That much Boyle has processed, as he drove the net hard to score the first goal of the scrimmage, a play that left him almost up-ended from the force, with his skate blade dangling near goaltender Martin Biron's mask.

Boyle knows that he's at his best when he's making plays just like that, using his big body to create opportunities and give opposing goaltenders trouble.

"Everybody likes having the puck and making plays. That's not really when I'm at my best, though. I can get in trouble that way. I'm not going to produce much from the perimeter," Boyle said. "I think in tight, towards the net, not only for me but hopefully the guys I'm playing with, it creates room for them. It's good to be reminded of that every day. You do it and it becomes a habit."

Like many of his teammates, Boyle is looking to have a bounce-back season after a disappointing and inconsistent performance last year. The 6-7 pivot managed only two goals and three assists in 38 games and was a healthy scratch at one point as he struggled to find his game.

Because of that, and the quality of competition at camp, Boyle knows his roster spot won't be given. It must be earned.

"It's very competitive and you need to try and get better, because each year the league gets better and better," Boyle said. "The younger kids are getting better and better, so if you want to stay you've got to get better."

• • •


Speaking of kids, 21-year-old center Oscar Lindberg continues to impress. The young Swedish prospect tallied a power-play goal for Team Blue in Sunday's scrimmage and earned more praise from Alain Vigneault.

"In Oscar's case, you could tell he's played with men before [in the Swedish Elite League]," Vigneault said. "With that amount of speed and puck-protection skill that he has, he's going to get a real, solid look."

• • •


Vigneault also acknowledged that 26-year-old Cam Talbot is also in the mix for the backup goaltending position. Talbot, who won 25 games as the starter for the AHL's Connecticut Whale last season, will compete with both Martin Biron and Johan Hedberg for the spot.

Talbot will play the second half of Monday's exhibition game against New Jersey. Henrik Lundqvist will start.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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