Boyd scores shift to second unit

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

It was early in the second period last game when Dustin Boyd received the opportunity any rookie would envy.

Looking for an offensive surge in Friday's clash with the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames head coach Mike Keenan gave the freshman forward a chance to show what he could do on a line with Alex Tanguay and Craig Conroy.

It worked, and Boyd played a part in setting up Tanguay's tally that tied the contest.

Seeing as Boyd played only 101 seconds over three shifts in the first period, when he was skating alongside Eric Godard and Mark Smith on the fourth line, he knew what chance lay before him.

"It's a huge opportunity to play with those guys," he said after yesterday's optional practice at the Saddledome. "Every shift, you've got to build some momentum and get something done.... If I get put on that line and don't do anything, I'm back to where I started."

The trio may have been Calgary's best line -- at least its most productive -- against the Stars, so maybe Boyd will spend more time on the club's second line, starting with tonight's clash with the New Jersey Devils.

Head coach Mike Keenan doesn't believe in handing out freebies, but he said Boyd has a chance to earn bigger and better things -- especially if he becomes more consistent.

"For the most part, he continues to move forward. Like any young player, sometimes he takes a step back, but he learns from it and has the ability to move forward and get better. As he continues to do that, he'll be a better and more complete player," Keenan said.

"I don't really know for sure what his limits are going to be. As long as we see improvement, see him grow, he'll get responsibilities that will test his limits and we'll find out eventually where he'll fit in."

For a few years now, Flames fans have been waiting with anticipation for Boyd to start making his mark in the NHL.

The club's more offensively gifted prospect for the past few years, he showed glimpses with a 27-goal, 60-point season last year in the AHL.

He has four points (2-2-4) in 13 NHL games this season.


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