Following Game 5 Saturday night, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella revealed that Brian Boyle sustained a concussion on a hit by Chris Neil and is out indefinitely.
Boyle had been one of the Rangers' most important players down the stretch and in their series against the Ottawa Senators. Here's a look at his game-by-game production in the playoffs.
Brian Boyle - 2012 Stanley Cup Playofs
TOI: Time on ice; SCF (PP): Scoring chances for (power play chances); SCA (PK): Scoring chances against (penalty kill chances against); SOG: Shots on goal; G/A: Goals/Assists
Boyle has played, and performed, in all man-power situations in the postseason. On the penalty kill, he's seen nearly 14 minutes of ice time and allowed just 5 scoring chances against, while generating one shorthanded scoring opportunity. And of course, his three goals have made him a huge -- and unlikely -- secondary scoring source. But production aside, Boyle's position alone may make him extremely difficult to replace.
While the blueshirts will get Carl Hagelin back from suspension and Tortorella was impressed by Chris Kreider's continuing adjustment to the NHL after Game 5, the absence of Boyle deprives the Rangers of its checking line center. And options seem to be limited and/or not particularly desirable.
Though it's all just speculation at this point, Brandon Dubinsky may be best suited for the role, but that would mean breaking up the Dubinksy-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan line, easily the Rangers' best unit in Game 5. Derek Stepan is another option, but while he has been showing a little more of his physical game lately, his build makes him more of a Scrappy-Doo to Boyle's hulking Chewbacca. Not to mention the fact that the skill of Dubinsky and Stepan may be better deployed trying to ignite the Rangers' struggling top point producers. Ultimately, fourth-line center John Mitchell could be bumped up a peg for even strength shifts.
In any case, it's a less-than-optimal situation as the Rangers try to fight for playoff survival on enemy ice Monday night.