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Perfectly Paired Linemates

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Much is made out of who is playing with who on the Sharks forward lines as not one trio is in tact from last year. Among the defensive pairings two thirds of the pairings are relatively new. Even the goaltender of choice most nights isn’t a sure bet with the talented combination of Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki. However, there is one constant in the Sharks lineup from last year and it is the defensive pairing of Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray.


The duo had some odd games together a few seasons ago, but was glued together for all of 2009-10 and it doesn’t look likely to change.

“They are a pair of players that compliment each other very well,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “Danny is maybe the brains on the line if you will and the vision on the line and (Dougie) provides the brawn. They compliment each other very well. They have played together for well over a year. They feel comfortable and you can see them trying to grow their game together. They talk about how they are going to react and that is really important.”

“I think it is something you grow,” Murray said about the chemistry of his defensive partner.

Many would find it a simple idea to throw an offensive minded blueliner on the ice with a stay at home partner, but that does not always make for a good mix. Murray and Boyle had some early adjustments, but they have gelled beautifully and get more than their share of ice time.

“Like any pair, it took a little while,” McLellan said. “Danny Boyle was so used to playing with Brad Lukowich when they both came over from Tampa. It was a natural tendency to put them together. Through injuries and play, (Dougie) got the opportunity to play with him and he’s continued to play there. Dougie Murray has done a really good job of maintaining that position with Danny Boyle. They get a lot of minutes.”

The ying and yang they provide for each other is evident not only in their size with Murray being one of the heaviest players on the team and Boyle among the shortest, but also in their styles.

“I can’t shake him,” Boyle quipped. “I think his strengths are my weaknesses and visa-versa. We compliment each other. That’s the easiest way to say it. What he excels at I need to work on and (it goes the other way). In my 13 years, arguably he’s the best partner I’ve had. He deserves a lot of credit.”

“We are different types of player, but we fit pretty well together,” Murray said.

Some of their (literal) strengths can’t be taught though.

“I’ll never be 240 or 250 so I’ll never have that weight to throw around,” Boyle said.

What the two do have is each other’s trust and that has been earned by both parties.

“We have a bond of confidence and we enjoy playing with each other,” Boyle said.

“We both like to communicate a lot which has worked really well from the beginning,” Murray said.

And their passion for the game is comparable with anyone on the talented Sharks roster.

“I think number one competitiveness, we’re both really competitive,” Murray said. “That’s where a lot of the respect for each other is. We’re innovative and use communication to solve different problems.”

“We both hate to lose as much if not more than anybody,” Boyle said. “That is what we have in common, our competitiveness and our will to win.”

Off the ice, the partnership is just as different, but it works equally as well.

“I wouldn’t call us opposites off the ice, but we’re still very different,” Murray said. “He’s a family man. I’ll say I’m a little bit more active, he’s a little more relaxed and chilled off the ice.”

“A lot can be said for how you get along,” Boyle said. “You’re not going to (hang out with) everybody off the ice. That’s just the odds, but he and I are really good friends and that carries over onto the ice.”

While some of the stereotypes of the individuals may be true, Boyle points out Murray can see the game very well offensively and Murray clarifies that Boyle doesn’t run around offensive with reckless abandon.

“It’s about fun and he doesn’t give himself (up) defensively which people think he does when he’s behind the net,” Murray said. “He always finds a way to cover for himself. He reads the play so well, he is back there when he starts sensing danger.”

“I think I’m known as the offensive guy, but he’s got a more offensive mind than people give him credit for,” Boyle said. “He wants to be involved offensively.”

It’s fitting that the compliments for each other flow so easily for a pair that compliments itself so well with its play.

GOALIE
McLellan let the media know that Antti Niemi would be starting in net for the home opener.

UPDATES
Two players in San Jose continue to work on returning to the ice. Jamal Mayers and Derek Joslin are rehabbing in preparation for a shot to get into the lineup for the first time this year.

“He hasn’t started skating yet,” McLellan said of Joslin. “He had some work done to repair a broken bone. When he is ready to go, he will be out on the ice and we’ll get him in shape.”

SHARK BYTE
Comcast SportsNet California will present the season debut of Shark Byte, a monthly half-hour San Jose Sharks magazine show hosted by Sharks television color analyst and Emmy Award winner Drew Remenda, on Friday, October 15 at 9:30 p.m.

In its ninth year, the season premiere of Shark Byte will feature an inside look at the Sharks recent trip to Europe. After the October 15 debut (9:30 p.m.), Shark Byte replays on October 16 (10:30 p.m.), October 17 (3:30 p.m.), and October 19 (6:30 p.m.).

NEXT GAME
The Sharks will host Atlanta on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets for all Sharks home games can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.

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