Having captured his first Stanley Cup championship in 2004, Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle knows a winner when he sees one. When Boyle glances around the dressing room, he likes what he sees in a collection of selfless teammates that are focused on team goals instead of individual accomplishments.
“As much as I’ve had to answer statistical questions all year about certain guys, nobody here really cares about personal statistics,” Boyle said in a one-on-one interview with XN Sports following Tuesday’s practice. “That’s what I find important. Guys aren’t on their own agendas. Everybody just wants to win the Cup. It doesn’t matter whether they score two goals or 20. That’s why I feel good about this team.”
In the early months of his Rangers career, Boyle felt it was mind-boggling to have to answer questions about his personal statistics while the team was putting together impressive winning streaks.
“For two or three months, I had to answer why I wasn’t getting the points I was getting,” Boyle said. “It was getting frustrating. Meanwhile, the team’s just getting win, after win, after win. It just boggled my mind that maybe the media is focused on little things, when this team is focused on the big picture and thinking about more important things than padding personal stats. Who cares about that? It’s about winning games.”
“The media likes to point out a lot of individual performances,” Boyle said. “You don’t get this many wins because of one, two, three, four or five guys. You get this many wins because you’re a good hockey team. Wins are the only statistic that I care about and everyone in here cares about.”
The Rangers are 15-2-3 since elite netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been sidelined due to a vascular injury. Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Rangers have won five consecutive games. They’ve won two straight games while steady defenseman Kevin Klein has been unavailable. Klein is expected to miss at least three weeks after suffering an upper-body injury blocking a shot with his left arm on Mar. 11 against the Washington Capitals.
“It’s a credit to the organization and the guys that put the team together,” Boyle said. “They find the right players. The players themselves deserve credit to – the guys who’ve been called up or traded for have done a good job of blending in and filling in spots.”
Now, the Rangers will be forced to press on without star winger Martin St. Louis. The team announced on Monday that St. Louis will be sidelined 10-to-14 days due to a lower-body injury. St. Louis appeared to injure his right knee in a collision with Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the third period of Sunday’s victory.
But… hold on to your hats. The Rangers will be getting a tremendous boost in the form of a imminently returning Lundqvist.
LUNDQVIST CLEARED TO PRACTICE WITH TEAM
On Wednesday, the Rangers announced that Lundqvist has been cleared to resume full practices with teammates. The Rangers do not have a morning skate scheduled for Wednesday and have a scheduled off day on Thursday. Lundqvist’s first practice with the team is likely to come on Friday.
Lundqvist hasn’t played since earning a Feb. 2 victory over the Panthers at MSG. Through 39 games, Lundqvist is 25-11-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
BOYLE: ‘IT’S EXCITING WHAT WE’RE GONNA DO HERE’
Boyle believes that the Rangers’ core has been strengthened by the experience of last season’s Stanley Cup Final defeat to the Los Angeles Kings.
“I think there are lessons to be learned in losses,” Boyle said. “For this team to go to the Cup last year, they probably learned a little bit. Guys got older and wiser. The guys they’ve surrounded the team with are good team players.”
Despite receiving more lucrative offers during the offseason, Boyle felt the Rangers offered him the best opportunity to win. His decision is paying off. The 38-year-old defenseman only sees blue skies ahead for the formidable Blueshirts.
“I got to choose where I wanted to go this summer,” Boyle said. “I had some say in it. This is where I wanted to be. We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’ve got to be pretty pleased with what we’ve done so far. It’s pleasing to see where we’re at after starting .500 at about the 20-game mark. This is a good team. It’s exciting to see what we’re gonna do here.”