Brad Boyes connected for 43 goals in his first full season with the St. Louis Blues, in 2007-08, and 33 the season after that.
While the offensive output hasn't come as easily for Boyes since then, the talent that helped him put together those two huge seasons remains evident in goals like the one he scored in the first period Monday against Chicago, on a play Boyes both started and finished.
On a St. Louis dump-in, Boyes had to take on four Blackhawks in order to control the puck and create a scoring chance. First, he put a hit on defenseman Jordan Hendry along the boards and was able to play the puck away from him. Swerving toward the net, he eluded blueliner Brian Campbell as well as backchecking forwards Michael Frolik and Jake Dowell.
Boyes then moved the puck across the crease to linemate T.J. Oshie, whose shot was stopped by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. Oshie got his own rebound and fed a pass back across to Boyes, who had a wide-open left side of the net in which to bury his 12th goal of the season.
The Blues hope this is the beginning of a hot steak for Boyes, who has put together several this season. The best came in November, when he scored a goal in four straight games and had a six-game point-scoring streak. He added a five-game point-scoring streak in early January and even more recently scored 12 points in a nine-game span.
"He has been looking for this kind of stretch for quite some time," Blues coach Davis Payne said after the November goal surge for Boyes. "I think we have to understand, and he has to understand, how it happens and continue to apply that to his game every single night. He's moving his feet, he's playing in the right areas, he's attacking with the puck and not drifting to the outside waiting for somebody to make a play for him."
Boyes has seen time frequently on a line with playmaking center Andy McDonald and rugged forward David Backes, so he understands the opportunity to score goals will be there. He just has to take advantage.
"I was getting chances," Boyes said earlier in the season. "I was feeling it, but you just need one of those to go in a different way and sometimes that can turn things around and get you fired up. There were opportunities I had but it was just a matter of changing things to get them to go in.
"It's nice to chip in and help out when you can. I am just trying to take pucks to the net, work down low and spin off guys and try to take pucks to the net as opposed to looking to pass."
For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.
— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday