New York Hockey: Brian Boyle

Boyle looks to bounce back by playing tight

September, 15, 2013
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.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Bruins 3 (OT)

May, 23, 2013

What it means: The Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit and rallied to win the game in overtime, narrowly avoiding a series sweep and keeping their playoff hopes alive in Game 4 against the Bruins at Madison Square Garden. Rick Nash connected with Chris Kreider on the rush for the game winner as the Rangers edged the Bruins 4-3 to send the series to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday.

Big goal: The MSG crowd was rocking early in the third when Derek Stepan picked the pocket of Zdeno Chara behind the net to catch an unsuspecting Rask for a quick game-tying wraparound goal at 1:15. The Rangers then whittled a 3-2 Bruins lead at the 10-minute mark with Brian Boyle’s shot from the slot for a power-play goal. It was the Rangers' first power-play goal in 23 attempts.

Seguin snaps drought: Giving the Bruins a 3-2 lead that lasted less than two minutes, Tyler Seguin notched his first goal of the season, scoring on his own rebound at 8:06 of the third.

Rookie wonder: Following up on Nathan Horton’s power-play goal -- the result of a goaltender interference penalty on Rangers forward Kris Newbury -- Boston’s Torey Krug beat Henrik Lundqvist with a one-timer for a 2-0 Bruins lead at 7:41 of the second. The rookie defenseman, who made his NHL playoff debut in Game 1, has three goals in four games for the Bruins. Krug’s goal also came on the power play.

Take a seat: The Rangers cut Boston’s two-goal lead in half with an embarrassing gaffe by Rask. Facing a rush from Carl Hagelin, Rask tumbled backwards, untouched, as Hagelin’s backhanded attempt trickled past the goal line in the second. The Rangers generated momentum from the fluke play, following up Hagelin’s goal with a couple of huge shifts, but didn't tie it up until the final frame.

Surprising scratch: In a bold move before an elimination game, coach John Tortorella scratched struggling center Brad Richards. The 33-year-old veteran, also an alternate captain for the Rangers, was recently relegated to the fourth line with which he received just 8:10 of ice time in Game 3, only 5:58 of which was even strength. Rugged winger Arron Asham was also scratched, with depth forwards Newbury and Micheal Haley replacing the two veterans in the lineup.

Depleted D: The Rangers were without top-four defenseman Anton Stralman, who suffered an injury in Game 3 after taking a hard hit from Boston’s Milan Lucic late in the second period. Veteran Roman Hamrlik took Stralman’s place, making his first appearance in almost two months.

What's next: An all-or-nothing Saturday in Boston, faceoff at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Boyle: 'We're not done by any means'

May, 22, 2013
New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle sat in his stall, hunched over and frothing in frustration, but dead-set in his declaration following a pivotal 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3.

"We’ve got more hockey to play," said Boyle, almost breathless with exasperation. "We’re not done by any means."

It was the sort of statement that comes only in the presence of a do-or-die situation, and the Rangers face that now as they trail the Bruins 3-0 in their second-round series.

[+] EnlargeBrian Boyle
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesBrian Boyle was very frustrated with his poor play Tuesday in Game 3.
After dropping the first pair of games in Boston, the Rangers returned home to Madison Square Garden, where they had recorded nine straight wins, only to see a third-period lead evaporate late in the third with Daniel Paille’s game-winner with 3:31 remaining in regulation.

It was a waste of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s pristine performance and a crippling reminder of how dangerous Boston can be if given extended zone time.

Now, all that separates the Bruins from completing the sweep and punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals is Game 4 on Thursday.

"It feels like we lost a big game and that sucks," said Boyle, who was livid with his own performance. "There were a lot of areas I could’ve contributed more and that’s infuriating. Biggest game of the year and it just wasn’t enough."

Boyle’s line of Taylor Pyatt and Derek Dorsett was effective in a checking role when used to neutralize Boston’s trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Jaromir Jagr, but the hulking center was particularly critical of his play from the dots. He finished 4-for-21 from the faceoff circle, a feeble 19 percent.

"We were in our own zone for way too long because I couldn’t win a friggin’ draw," Boyle said.

After the Rangers built a 1-0 lead in the second period on Taylor Pyatt’s deflection goal, the Bruins won the puck battles and controlled the territorial game, with extended time in the Rangers’ end.

Lundqvist was stellar throughout the game -- stopping two backhanded breakaways in the first period, snagging a blistering slapshot in the second -- but faced far too much pressure.

After escaping the second period unscathed, the Rangers surrendered the tying goal to Boston’s Johnny Boychuk -- his fourth marker of the postseason.

"We knew they were going to push," captain Ryan Callahan said. "I thought we had a pretty good third period, but we gave up a goal and we don’t get one. It’s tough."

The thought of relinquishing a two-game series lead to Toronto in Round 1 provided the Bruins with the motivation to keep grinding, and they were rewarded late in the third with Paille’s winner.

The fourth-liner swooped in from behind the net to sweep in a puck that had deflected off Lundqvist’s mask and off the crossbar.


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Of course, they’ve seen a commanding 3-0 series lead disappear as well, when the Flyers completed a stunning comeback against them in 2010. Philadelphia is one of only three teams in NHL history to surmount a 3-0 series deficit during the playoffs.

"We had to live with that. We still have to live with that," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Julien said this team, which also let the Leafs force a Game 7 despite entering Game 5 with a 3-1 series advantage, is playing on a whole new level now.

"I didn’t think we were in the zone [against Toronto] like we are now," he said.

That was a focus heading into Game 3 for the Bruins, as Marchand detailed Tuesday morning in the hours before the puck drop.

"We try to learn from every situation," Marchand said. "We realize we let [Toronto] back in it. We didn’t have that killer instinct. We want to make sure to try and step up and do the job."

Meanwhile, the Rangers are on the brink of elimination with a depleted defense, inept power play and a whole slew of statistics stacked against them.

The Rangers are 0-10 all-time in playoff series when trailing 3-0, and, according to Elias Sports Bureau, no team has ever overcome 2-0 deficits in two consecutive best-of-seven-series in the same playoff year.

There is also the matter of pride at stake, with the Rangers desperate to avoid the "S" word.

Rangers coach John Tortorella admitted his team was in a "tough situation" but said he had confidence in how they’d response.

"I have full faith in our athletes," he said.

The Rangers are a proud bunch, and determined. According to Boyle, this series is not over, no matter how well the Bruins are playing.

"They’re a good team. They’ve got some depth," Boyle said. "We’re a good team, too. We’ll show it Thursday."

Rapid Reaction: Capitals 2, Rangers 1 (OT)

May, 10, 2013
WASHINGTON -- A quick take on the Washington Capitals' 2-1 overtime win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals:

At a glance: Washington's Mike Ribeiro swept in a rebound for the game winner to give the Capitals a 2-1 overtime win and a 3-2 lead in the series. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist was terrific in the third period and overtime -- especially on a stunning kick-save to rob Mathieu Perrault -- but Ribeiro's goal sealed it for the Caps at the Verizon Center on Friday night. Washington will now have a chance to close out the series Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Bad idea: With the Rangers leading 1-0, Brian Boyle took a boneheaded penalty that allowed the Capitals to even the score. Though the officials missed Ribeiro’s shove to Boyle that preceded the play, they caught the hulking centerman retaliating as he took a big whack at Riberio’s legs. With Boyle in the box for slashing, Joel Ward cashed in on a power-play goal at 7:44 to tie the game at 1-1.

Quick start: Before the game, Capitals coach Adam Oates expressed concern about the team’s start. He was right to be worried. The Rangers scored just 53 seconds into play when streaking center Derick Brassard set up Boyle in front for a 1-0 Rangers lead. Brassard’s helper, his fifth primary assist of the series, is his sixth point in the past two games.

Clowe blow: Ryane Clowe, who returned in Game 4 from what is believed to have been a concussion, was forced from Game 5 with another injury. The rugged 30-year-old winger took only one shift after taking a hard hit from Jason Chimera along the end boards at 4:40 in the first period, a play that earned Chimera a boarding penalty. Clowe did not return to the game.

Thrown into fire: Making his NHL debut in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Washington prospect Tom Wilson skated on the team’s fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. The 19-year-old Wilson, a first-round draft pick in 2012 (16th overall) was called up from the AHL’s Hershey Bears in the wake of Wednesday night’s injury to Caps winger Martin Erat.

Up next: Game 6, Rangers vs. Capitals, Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Delay of game confusion, Dorsett debut

May, 4, 2013
With the game tied 0-0 and time winding down, the New York Rangers thought they’d have one more power-play opportunity in regulation when the puck deflected off Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner’s stick and sailed over the glass with less than 46 seconds left in the third period.

Despite a lengthy stoppage in play and what looked like some huddling between the officials, a delay of game penalty wasn’t called on Alzner, leaving the Rangers puzzled.

Ultimately, it was determined that the penalty was not called because it was deflected. According to the rulebook, specifically rule 63.2, a player must shoot or bat the puck over the ice to be subject to a minor penalty. The play was not reviewable by the league’s Situation Room.

"The puck was there and it wasn’t shot out," Alzner said after the Capitals' 1-0 overtime win. "It was tipped out and that was all they said."

Coincidentally, Alzner said he was thinking about what the ruling on that type of play would be on Friday night.

"It’s actually weird. I was thinking about that last night," he said. "I was thinking, if that play ever happened, what would the call be? And I guess it’s discretionary, whatever they decide. So I was happy they decided that."

Asked his thoughts about the rule, coach John Tortorella didn’t care to take issue with it.

"It’s a rule," he said.

• • •

Both Derek Dorsett and Brian Boyle returned to the lineup for the Rangers and Tortorella said he was pleased with their play.

"They played well," he said. "We changed the lines to try to create some more offense and also due to some matchups."

Dorsett, who flanked former Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Derick Brassard for most of the game, set a physical tone with his play in his Rangers debut. It was the first game back for the gritty 26-year-old since suffering a broken collarbone back in March while still playing for Columbus, and he tried to test it early with contact against Caps defenseman Steven Oleksy during his first shift.

Dorsett finished with seven hits, two shots and two penalties in his first game as a Blueshirt, a match he had been anticipating ever since being traded to New York at the deadline in April.

"There were a lot of emotions going into the game. I was up early in the morning like a little kid at Christmas," Dorsett said.

Boyle started the game between Darroll Powe and Arron Asham but was later awarded some shifts between Taylor Pyatt and Dorsett.

The hulking centerman, who suffered a lower-body injury April 16 in Philadelphia, finished with one shot and six hits in 11:29 over 18 shifts.

Clowe: 'I'm not ruling myself out'

May, 3, 2013
WASHINGTON -- Rangers forward Ryane Clowe skated with the team Friday for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury (believed to be a concussion) in the Rangers' playoff-clinching win in Carolina last Thursday.

Clowe said he felt "pretty good" and added that he may even be available to return to the lineup for Game 2 against the Capitals on Saturday.

"I'm not gonna rule out tomorrow," Clowe said after the Rangers' brief skate on Friday at the Verizon Center. "Tough to watch this time of year. Playoffs -- it's the time of year and the hockey I look forward to the most. So, it was hard to watch last night. But, I'll discuss it with the trainers and the proper people today and let them know how it felt. So we'll see."

Clowe sounded like the conditioning factor is not his biggest concern, given the anticipated adrenaline jolt the playoffs provide.

"I feel like that this time of year I can jump in every time, just because I've played a lot of hockey up to this point," Clowe said. I just feel like you can run on [adrenaline]. It's kind of like my first game in New York. I didn't really have any sleep but you run on adrenaline to get back into it. So, I don't think conditioning is that big of a factor."

Coach John Tortorella also confirmed that a player healthy enough to play will be in the lineup at this time of year, regardless of conditioning level.

"Because if we don't win, we're done," he said. "So I don't give a d*** about conditioning."

Clowe's return could lend a big boost to the Rangers offense. The rugged 30-year-old winger brings size and grit to the lineup, and he also adds experience. In his eight-plus seasons with the Sharks, Clowe had 18 goals and 45 points in 68 playoff games.

"It's good to see. I think everybody skated today. We have a lot of players out there and [you] hope for the best, that everybody's healthy," said fellow playoff veteran Brad Richards. "A lot of decisions to be made and everybody's chomping at the bit. I'm not a trainer or a doctor. I don't know exactly where everybody is, but it's good to have everybody out there."

In addition to Clowe, injured forward Derek Dorsett also appears to be nearing a return. For the first time Friday, Dorsett skated in a regular jersey -- he previously donned a non-contact jersey -- which presumably means he was cleared for contact.

Brian Boyle and defenseman Marc Staal also practiced with the team, although it isn't clear when any of the four players will return. Tortorella said Thursday that he will not discuss any injuries or lineup questions during the playoffs.
WASHINGTON -- With the playoffs underway and the subterfuge already in full swing, injured Rangers forward Brian Boyle revealed very little after skating with the team Thursday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury April 16.

Boyle seemed encouraged by the morning's skate but didn't offer up much more regarding his potential return to the lineup.

"I felt good," he said.

Any idea of a timeline?

"I felt good," he answered. "It was positive."

Boyle did concede, sort of, that he is hopeful to return to the lineup at some point during this series vs. Washington.

"Playoffs. I want to be out there as quick as I can. It felt good, so that's all I really know," he said. "I don't have any idea how it's supposed to work. I'm trying to feel as good as I can as fast as I can."

Boyle was similarly noncommittal when asked whether he would require medical clearance before he can resume playing.

"We've got a whole staff of medical guys," Boyle said. "Again, I'm not a doctor."

Boyle also declined to answer whether he has skated prior to Thursday on his own.

• • •

Injured defenseman Marc Staal was a bit more forthcoming about his progress; Staal has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck on March 5.

The 26-year-old said he doesn't want to risk coming back until he is confident he can make a positive impact, especially considering the heightened pressure this time of year.

"When I feel like I'm going to be able to help the team win and be successful, I'll get back on the ice," Staal said. "Hopefully that's sooner rather than later."

How will he know?

"As soon as I'm not second-guessing myself or hesitating, or [once] I do things I normally do becomes automatic again is when I can jump into a playoff-type game," Staal said.

Staal praised the work of the Rangers' defensive corps in his absence and said he doesn't want to "compromise" that by returning prematurely. He admitted that the situation might be different if this was a regular-season scenario, but that it makes no sense to take the risk with critical playoff games on the line.

"If it were Game 10 maybe I'd jump out there for a few shifts," he said. "But right now the stakes are too high."

• • •
Derek Dorsett (collarbone) skated with the team in a white non-contact jersey. Ryane Clowe (believed to be concussion) made the trip to D.C. with the team but did not skate.

Torts: not 'crazy' about Kreider recall

April, 18, 2013
Let's just say that Rangers coach John Tortorella did not roll out the welcome mat for Chris Kreider.

Before Thursday's game against the Panthers, Tortorella revealed that Kreider was one of many candidates considered for recall from the AHL's Connecticut Whale in the wake of an injury to Brian Boyle; Kreider was selected based on his speed.

And from the sounds of it, Tortorella isn't entirely convinced of the decision.

"We want to play with a little pace, so that's who we go with," Tortorella said. "There's a number of guys we talked about. I'm still not crazy about bringing a kid here, but we felt with his assets, his speed especially, that's who we'll go with."

Tortorella has been critical of Kreider's play previously this season. Earlier this month Kreider was sent back down to the minors after the coach expressed his concern about the 21-year-old winger's ability to handle his responsibilities on the ice.

Kreider's recall was a necessity given Boyle's injury, however; Boyle was forced from Tuesday's 4-2 loss in Philadelphia with a lower-body injury.

In a rare injury update (granted, I'm using the word "update" generously), Tortorella revealed that Boyle will not be available when the team travels to Buffalo on Friday to take on the 10th-place Sabres.

Rapid Reaction: Flyers 4, Rangers 2

April, 16, 2013

At a glance: The eighth-place Rangers aren't making it any easier on themselves, as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night and continue to white-knuckle their way to the end of the regular season. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Rangers never recovered, as Philly netminder Steve Mason was stellar in making 38 saves to lead his team to victory at Wells Fargo Center.

Chipping away: Philadelphia’s Kimmo Timonen helped the Flyers reclaim a two-goal lead with a huge power-play slapper at the 10-minute mark of the second, but Derek Stepan whittled the lead to one goal, 3-2, in the third period. Stepan tallied his 15th goal of the season and registered his 18th point in 17 career games against the Flyers.

Two-goal hole: Trailing 2-0 after Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafsson’s goal late in the first, the Rangers cut the deficit in half, 2-1, with Mats Zuccarello’s first goal since rejoining the Rangers. Zuccarello, brought over from the Kontinental Hockey League last month, scored for the first time since March 19, 2012, on a shot from the right circle that beat Mason 2:54 into the second period.

First strike: Almost midway through the first period with only one shot from each team, Brayden Schenn opened the scoring to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 9:28. Schenn notched his eighth of the season, burying a bouncing puck at the left post on a broken play following a Rangers blocked shot.

Boyle injured: Rangers forward Brian Boyle left the game during the first period with an apparent lower-body injury. He did not return to the game. The beleaguered 28-year-old, who has endured trade rumors, demotions, lengthy goal droughts and stints as a healthy scratch this season, has been limited to two goals and three assists in 37 games this season.

Del Zotto down: Boyle wasn’t the only Ranger banged up at the end of the night. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto also left the game during the third period after taking a puck to the mouth. The puck deflected off Del Zotto’s stick after he blocked a Flyers shot. The young blueliner skated off on his own but went immediately to the trainer’s room. Del Zotto returned to the ice shortly after, however.

Bronx-bound: There is planning for a series of outdoor games next season, two of which will include the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, a source confirmed to The Rangers will face the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26 and the New York Islanders on Jan. 29 in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The deal has yet to be finalized, the source said, but it is not expected to be an issue.

Up Next: Rangers versus Panthers, Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

Boyle leaves game, won't return

April, 16, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers forward Brian Boyle left Tuesday's game against the Flyers in the first period with an apparent lower-body injury.

According to the team, he will not return.

Boyle has two goals and three assists in 37 games for the Rangers this season.

Torts not buying 'rivalry'

April, 13, 2013
Guess what?

John Tortorella is still not convinced.

When asked about the fever-pitch atmosphere for his team's 1-0 overtime win against the Islanders in front of a sellout crowd at a boisterous Nassau Coliseum, Tortorella still wasn't comfortable with the "R" word.

"I don't buy the rivalry," he said, insisting it takes an "old-fashioned" playoff series to breed the type of hostility and hatred necessary to earn that designation. "I think you need some good, stiff playoff situations -- seven-game series -- and that's how you build a rivalry.

Which is not to say he was taking a dig across the hallway.

In fact, one day after dismissing questions about the Islanders, Tortorella praised the team and said they "deserved" to have people come to the building to watch; he said the two teams' close proximity in the standings was the real reason the atmosphere was so intense.

"We're happy to take part in a game like that with them," he said.

• • •

Rangers forward (and former Islander) Arron Asham negated what would've been a Rangers power-play in the first period when he took a roughing penalty for retaliating against Islanders' Colin McDonald for his crushing hit on Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger.

But it was important to Asham to come to his teammate's defense.

"It happens," Asham said. "I'm going to stick up for my teammates. Sometimes you've got to sacrifice. No one was hurt and nothing terrible happened, so ... it worked out."

Teammate Brian Boyle had no problem with that.

"What he did was great intentions and [we'll play] 4-on-4," Boyle said. "He's a warrior. He's played for a while and he's a veteran. He's a great guy to have on your team."
Thursday marked an historic day in hockey, as the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced a partnership with You Can Play, an organization founded to eliminate homophobia in sports and create a safe environment for gay athletes.

As participants in You Can Play’s initial campaign -- a series of public service announcements that ran last season -- both Rangers Henrik Lundqvist and Brian Boyle were encouraged to hear the news.

"It’s progressive. It’s great stuff," said Boyle. "[For] the future generations of kids, hopefully this starts becoming the culture, the norm -- accepting everyone... It’s something that’s completely necessary. It’s a great job by Patrick Burke."

Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and son of former Leafs general manager Brian Burke, created the foundation in tribute to his younger brother Brendan, who came out as gay while serving as student manager of Miami University’s men’s hockey and was tragically killed in a car accident in 2010.

Since You Can Play’s inception, the foundation has been received with open arms throughout the hockey community, in dressing rooms across both the NHL and AHL.

Thursday was the most recent, and perhaps most significant, step in what has been a wildly successful campaign to celebrate tolerance and inclusion in sports.

"I think it’s good. I think it’s important that everybody knows that we respect everybody," Lundqvist said. "I think everybody deserves to play this game. It doesn’t matter who you are. I think it’s a good thing."

No player in the NHL or any other major professional sports league in the U.S. has come out as gay during their career, though Lundqvist is hopeful the NHL has fostered the type of culture that would be open and accepting should that happen.

"I hope everyone would feel comfortable being themselves, without feeling any pressure, whether it was [sexual orientation], religion, or whatever it might be," he said.

The recently-brokered collective bargaining agreement includes a clause that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to religion, race and national origin as well.

The You Can Play team will be presenting and conducting seminars at the NHL’s rookie symposium and will be providing education and resources to each team as desired.

"Our motto is 'Hockey Is For Everyone,' and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday in a statement. "While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our lockerrooms and in the stands."

Boyle scratched ... again

March, 9, 2013
Brian Boyle was indeed a healthy scratch for Friday's 3-2 loss to the Senators, coach John Tortorella confirmed after the game.

[+] EnlargeJeff Halpern
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesRangers' Jeff Halpern and Senators' Peter Regin battle for the puck along the boards.
Although the hulking centerman earned a spot back in the lineup after serving a three-game stint as a healthy scratch earlier this season, he appears to be back in Tortorella's dog house.

"Other guys were playing better," Tortorella said of his decision to have Boyle watch from the press box.

Although it was assumed that Richards' return to the lineup would mean either Micheal Haley or Stu Bickel would sit, Boyle was the odd man out. Tortorella opted for rookie J.T. Miller and Jeff Halpern as his third and fourth-line centers and, once again, Boyle's role with the team appears nebulous.

Tortorella said he has not liked Boyle's game of late.

"We're hoping Brian becomes part of it," Tortorella said, "but he certainly has to do more than what he has."

The 28-year-old Boyle, who had 11 goals and 26 points in 82 games for the Rangers last season, has been limited to only one assist in 19 games for the Rangers this year.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles

February, 14, 2013
At a glance: In a Valentine’s Day rematch with little love between the two New York rivals, the Rangers host the slumping Islanders at Madison Square Garden for the second time in one week. The Blueshirts aim to collect their fourth straight win while the Islanders hope to snap a five-game skid that has them plummeting to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Boyle is back: Rangers forward Brian Boyle is back in the lineup after being scratched the past three games. The 6-foot-7 center, whose struggles earned him a benching by coach John Tortorella, said he’s excited to play and prove he can still contribute: “I know I can play better and I’m going to.” To make room for him on the roster, winger Chris Kreider will be a healthy scratch.

Familiar face: Rangers backup netminder Martin Biron will get the start against his former team Thursday. Biron is 21-4-1 in 28 career games played against the Islanders.

Tavares taking the lead: Leading the way for the Islanders is star center John Tavares. The former first overall pick in the 2009 draft enters Thursday’s game on a three-game goal-scoring streak. The 22-year-old also has seven goals in the last eight games and ranks second among NHL forwards with an average 22:05 of ice time, only behind New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk.

Rookie sensation: Rangers prospect J.T. Miller hopes to replicate the success he had the last time he faced the Islanders at Madison Square Garden. The 19-year-old tallied twice in his Garden debut, only his second NHL game, and has a lot riding on Thursday’s contest. The rivalry match against the Islanders will be Miller’s fifth NHL game, after which the Rangers must decide whether to keep him around or send him back to their AHL affiliate in Connecticut. Miller playing in his 6th game would trigger the first year of his entry-level contract.

Goaltending woes: Too bad the Islanders’ trade for Tim Thomas was nothing more than a salary cap transaction. Honestly, they could use the former Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes. Neither starter Evgeni Nabokov (4-5-1, .897, 3.00) or backup Rick DiPietro (0-2-0, .842, 4.60) have save percentages above .900 and the Islanders currently rank 29th in the league with goals against per game (3.58).

Special teams: One of the bright spots of the season for the Islanders has been the success of their special teams. They rank third in the league on the penalty-kill (89.5%) and sixth in the league on the power-play (25.5%)

Boyle to play vs. Isles

February, 14, 2013
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After being scratched the past three games, Brian Boyle will return to the lineup Thursday night against the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

It's a relief for Boyle, who said last week that he found the benching "infuriating." The 28-year-old center said he's excited to be back and is anxious to prove he can still contribute to this team.

"I know I can play better and I'm going to," he said after the team's morning skate in Westchester.

Boyle, held to one point in nine games this season, said he needs to create more offense and be sharper on the penalty kill. His production has faltered in the first quarter of the season, he admitted, but his work ethic hasn't been lacking.

"I work as hard as I can," he said. "Jump has never been an issue."

Despite concerns about Boyle's penalty-killing performance and shot-blocking this season, coach John Tortorella has repeatedly expressed faith in the hulking forward. As recently as Wednesday, Tortorella called Boyle a "good player" who is still expected to play an important role with the team.

"It is nice to know that they think I can be an effective player," Boyle said. "If they don't, I'm going to prove them wrong."

While Boyle centered a third line with Taylor Pyatt and J.T. Miller during the morning skate, Chris Kreider skated as an extra defenseman. It appears Kreider will be the healthy scratch at forward vs. the Islanders.

Goaltender Martin Biron was first off the ice, a good indication that he will start against his former team on Thursday.