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Defensemen everywhere have felt Boyle's pain

Friday, 04.23.2010 / 5:00 PM / Ice Age

By Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

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Defensemen everywhere have felt Boyle's pain
Defensemen across the hockey galaxy all felt horrible for San Jose's Dan Boyle following overtime of Game 3 against Colorado.
Anyone who ever spent one minute playing defense, be it in the NHL, at school, or just on the pond, felt for Dan Boyle after his clearing attempt against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 last Sunday -- in overtime no less -- ended up in his own net.

Bundle all the legendary monsters and villains like Freddy Krueger, Frankenstein, Dracula and Alien together and it couldn't match the horror Boyle felt.

Bad things happen to good people as life has illustrated time and again, and bad things happen to good players as sports have pointed out time and again.

"I want to play right now and, unfortunately, I have to wait another day,"  Boyle told NHL.com's Rick Sadowski prior to Game 4. "It's a nightmare, certainly the last thing you want to happen. It's unfortunate, but this is where I need to show my ... I guess leadership, and try to come through and bounce back."
   
So, what the heck actually happened?

"I guess on TV it's not obvious (what happened)," Boyle said. "I was surprised to get the puck in the first place, which is not an excuse, but definitely right away (Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly) puts his stick right there. I'm trying to go around the boards with it and it ended up going into the net. But it wasn't obvious on TV."

No, but the results was obvious and painful for Sharks fans -- and defensemen all over the globe.

"I wish I could say I turned the page already, but I haven't," Boyle said prior to Game 4. "I need to play. Until we drop the puck it's probably going to be with me. I think it's probably going to stay with me until the series is done. Hopefully, if we win the series, I can officially turn the page.

"Ten years ago it probably would have been a scary thing. (As a) young guy, I would have been a mess. We're not done, it's 2-1. It was a horrible, horrible situation for me and I feel terrible, but we still have some work to do and we're not done."

Boyle became a prophet as he got the Sharks on the scoreboard in the first period of Game 4, a 2-1 overtime win.

"It was nice to see him score right off the bat," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I think that put Game 3 to rest in his mind and to a lot of other players' minds."

"Until we win the series, it's never going to be completely over," Boyle told Sadowski. "The only thing that matters to me is winning this series and then I can officially turn the page on that."

Well Said I -- "You guys don't mind if I do this sitting down, do you?" -- Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask after playing 87:41 against the Sabres in Game 4 Wednesday night.

Paging Oliver Stone -- There are those who surmise the NHL has a rooting interest in these playoffs and works to set up dream matchups. Despite the fact that history does not bear this out a bit, let's roll on because, like the movie "JFK," it is fascinating, but not true in the least little bit.

The latest is the League is against the Vancouver Canucks because ... I'm not quite sure why the League would be against the Canucks. Oh, now I remember, because of a move -- no doubt headed by Dr. Evil in his underground lair -- to boost the fortunes of Sun Belt teams like the Kings, who hadn't been in the playoffs since 2002. Remember, never let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

"And what's that based on other than utter gibberish? The conspiracy theories are absurd," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said rather emphatically. "If that were the case, why has it taken eight years for the Kings to be in the playoffs? Why have the Panthers not been in the playoffs for 10 years? I don't think it's appropriate to dignify unfounded accusations.

"This is what we see in a variety of forms every year in the first round. I don't know if it's gamesmanship, the conspiracy theories and critiquing of officiating. The officiating standard hasn't changed. The fact is we don't care who wins. We simply don't. It's about the competition on the ice and it goes back to your first question about how exciting these playoffs have been. The end result takes care of itself on the ice, by the players.'

Well Said II -- "No, I'm not worried. If I was in Iraq or Afghanistan, I'd be worried. These are games. I'm confident and supportive of our players." -- New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger

What's that feel like? -- The thousands of defensemen who felt terrible for Dan Boyle, no doubt also feel the pain that Chicago's Brent Sopel experiences when he blocks a shot. Because, despite all the various and assorted pads, there are times the puck finds that nook or cranny where no one thought to place a pad.

In the playoff series against the Nashville Predators, Sopel has had to drop and block shots off the stick of defenseman Shea Weber, who can bring it. So, what's that feel like?

"What's it like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer?" Sopel told reporters. "That's my game, and I do whatever it takes to help this team win."

A goalie controversy? -- Michael Leighton may not be on the ice now, but as the Flyers extend their season, the chances are he may be back from his high ankle sprain. And what does that mean for Brian Boucher?

The Philadelphia Inquirer speculated that Leighton could be back in two to three weeks. He has been skating and taking some shots.

"It doesn't feel great, but I'm working to get back," Leighton told the Inquirer Tuesday. "It's on schedule and it's healing. It's getting better, and I'm hoping to get back out there."

Well Said III -- "There are special nights. The playoffs are so much fun. So much fun being a part of and being on the bench. The emotions that go through a game. The ups and downs. Especially at this point, I soak everything in. It's so much fun watching the guys and being a part of this." -- Bruins veteran Mark Recchi

Not rocket science -- Marian Hossa had a very simple explanation when asked what has plagued the Chicago Blackhawks' offense in the early going against Nashville.

"It's simple: We're creating some chances, but we are not productive," Hossa said. "The bottom line, I have to step up and make something happen. Obviously it's not easy. They're playing well defensively. But somehow we have to break that and put myself on the scoring sheet."

Praise for Brind'Amour -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was asked a question about Mike Richards that ended up being a testimonial to Rod Brind'Amour, who Laviolette coached when with the Carolina Hurricanes.

"When I had Roddy, he had played like a thousand games," Laviolette told Wayne Fish of the Bucks County Courier Times. "Mike is young in his career and they're different in who they are, in their makeup, how they prepare themselves and how they play.

"This is no knock on Mike, but Rod is the most devoted guy when it comes to taking care of himself. He leads from example that way. Big games are on the line now and Mike's clearly been our best forward."

Surprise? Not to us -- The Phoenix Coyotes have earned the moniker as the NHL's surprise team of 2009-10 from sea to shining sea, but perhaps not in the Phoenix dressing room.

"You hear a lot of things," defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "We're a team that works hard, but I think for us you can't read too much in it on what's going on on the outside. As a team, you want to put your best foot forward and find a way to win game.

"I think that's what it's all it's about, no matter how it's done. ... If people are surprised, then they've been surprised all year."

For Datsyuk, more of the same -- It's almost automatic now that when the finalists for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, and the Lady Byng Trophy as the League's most gentlemanly player, are released, Pavel Datsyuk is on the list.

And it seems somewhat more appropriate that the finalists are named during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think he's an exceptional two-way player," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. "I've had an opportunity to coach a lot of really good players, and to me, he has those instincts and those skill sets that allow him to be very successful."

Datsyuk has won two straight Selke Trophies and has won the Lady Byng four times.

"He deserves that," teammate Henrik Zetterberg told the Free Press. "He is a real good defensive player. It would be fun to see him win it again. When you sit on the bench, you just start laughing sometimes because he is doing stuff that you're not supposed to do out there."

What's the secret of his defensive success? Listening.

"Every coach on every team I have been on, he tell to fight for puck every time you are on the ice," Datsyuk said. "But, especially when you play with Norris (Lidstrom) and Rafi (Brian Rafalski), it's helped me a lot. I'm happy to be with these guys and be around them and learn."

Well Said IV -- "I don't think anybody in this room expected this to go in five games. Nobody in their right mind would. We were expecting a long series, going back and forth with momentum swings, and we've just got to keep pushing back." -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris


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