Boyd settling down

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Watching Dustin Boyd on the ice in his second year as a pro, you can see the difference a year makes.

More importantly, the Calgary Flames forward can feel it.

"This time around, I definitely think I'm more confident with the puck, and I'm not as hesitant to make a move or make a pass as I was last year," Boyd said prior to last night's clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "Last year, I was more afraid to make a mistake, but this year I really feel more comfortable and confident with the puck. It comes with another year."

Jumping to the pro ranks from the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, Boyd received a good taste of the NHL last season. He spent the bulk of the campaign in the minors but skated in 13 NHL clashes and collected a pair of goals and pair of assists.

He again started the year in the AHL but was recalled just over a week ago and has made big strides, especially in the offensive zone.

He's more sure of himself, especially with the puck.

It was even worthy of several shifts on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy in Thursday's loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

"That's a boost they have confidence in me to put me out there in those situations," said Boyd, who had one assist in four NHL games heading into last night. "For me, I'm here to bring energy and chip in offensively, so I'm gonna do whatever I can to play my game. If he rewards me with more ice time, so be it."

The next quest, on top of sticking in the NHL on a full-time basis, is to display the scoring ability he's shown at every other level.

Boyd racked up an impressive 27 goals and 60 points in 66 AHL contests last season, so the Flames have plenty of reason to believe he can be an offensive contributor in the NHL ranks.

He's aware it can take time.

"This is the National Hockey League, it's tough to get goals here," he said. "For me, I've got to create chances for myself and make some breaks. But if I keep working at it, goals will come. They've always come for me over the years, so I'll just keep working and hopefully they'll come."

Actually, Boyd already learned a big lesson this year about working through a slump. He struggled out of the gates with Quad City but managed to put it together to the point he'd garnered two goals and nine points in 18 games before being summoned.

"I was getting a lot of chances every game but hitting cross bars and posts," he said. "I had a ton of shots every game, but the puck wasn't going in."

All the while, he's in the process of discovering what he is exactly as a NHL player.

A life-time centre counted on to score -- other than his rookie year in the WHL -- Boyd has bounced all over the map with the Flames. He's been on the fourth line, been on the third line and even had some time with Jarome Iginla.

It could get a young player's head spinning, but the 21-year-old from Winnipeg is taking it all in stride.

"I think the best thing is to play my game and wherever Mike (Keenan) plays me, show I can do the job," Boyd said.


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