SUN Hockey Pool

Boyd grateful to be back in lineup

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Watching, learning, and waiting, Dustin Boyd continues to show signs he's going to be a valuable player in the NHL.

The Calgary Flames youngster who teammates used to tease about his resemblance to Justin Timberlake is showing as much versatility as the former boy band heartthrob turned solo artist and actor.

Boyd is a natural centre, but spends most of his time on the wing with the Flames.

He started the season in the minors, and has been a healthy scratch in four of the last six games, but showed another glimpse of what his future holds in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday.

Scoring his sixth of the season from the top of the crease on a great feed from veteran Owen Nolan, the 21-year-old followed up with a few more great opportunities.

Boyd was strong on the forecheck, and showed grit in the corners on the back end, too.

Seeing the determination and effort, head coach Mike Keenan rewarded Boyd with shifts on the powerplay and second line, although he played primarily with Matthew Lombardi and Stephane Yelle.

A man advantage had just expired when Boyd gave the Flames a 1-1 tie late in the first period.

"It's nice, Mike showing confidence in me during the game," said Boyd. "He can put me out there with those guys.

"For me, it's just a matter of going out there and working hard. I've got to earn every shift."

Learning from veterans like Nolan, Iginla, fellow centres Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow as much when he's on the ice as not, Boyd will one day crack the top-six forward ranks with regularity.

For now, he's just doing what he can to get in the lineup.

"You want to be playing, and it's tough when you've got to sit out and watch and can't help your team out," admitted Boyd.

"But for me, they just tell me when you're in the stands, you've got to be learning. You've got to be watching other guys' centremen. Not only the centremen on your own team, but on other teams that we play.

"Just the way they play, the way they track back hard, and the little things that they do."

More often than not so far, his playing time has come as a winger. That versatility will pay off in the long run. It also makes his list of things to learn a little longer than some young prospects throughout the league.

"I'm trying to work on every aspect of my game while I'm here," said Boyd.

"Whether it be down low defensively, containing their forwards down low, or whether I'm playing the wing, getting pucks out, getting pucks deep."


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