Sharks’ Boyle back in top form

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP)

Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 4:10 AM ET

This round of the NHL playoffs has been about redemption for Dan Boyle.

The San Jose Sharks’ defenceman was happy to get past the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs, but when it came to his own play he wasn’t pleased with the way he played or the way he contributed.

So as the Sharks prepared to battle the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 at the HP Pavilion Sunday, Boyle, 34, an Ottawa native, had plenty of reasons to smile with 2-2-4 points in the first four games of this series.

Boyle is feeling good about himself again. It’s no accident that Boyle stepped up for the Sharks Friday in Game 4 in Detroit. He snuck in the back door in the second period and beat Jimmy Howard to bring San Jose within a goal.

“I have my energy back,” said Boyle before Sunday night’s game. “I wasn’t happy with the way the first round, well not the whole first round because the first two games I was fine, but the final (four against Los Angeles) I wasn’t happy.

“It starts out with a couple of bounces. A couple of bounces don’t go your way and then it just kind of trickles. It gets into the legs and I just didn’t have the energy. Now, I have my energy back. That helps a lot.”

What also helps is admitting there’s a problem. A lot of players aren’t willing to do that. Many convince themselves they’re not playing bad and, as a result, continue to struggle. Boyle has never been that type of guy.

Coach Todd McLellan and his staff could spend all the time they wanted pouring over video with Boyle after some of the struggles he had in Round 1. That wasn’t necessary because Boyle knew what he wasn’t doing right.

This is Boyle’s third season with the Sharks. He knows his job and his role. He needs to be an impact player for San Jose most nights for the club to have success.

“When he’s going, and he’s very sharp, pucks are moving up the ice because he gets it into the forward’s hands and he’s very good at supporting the rush,” said McLellan, who won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008 as an assistant.

“He didn’t have the series he wanted in the first round. He was the first to admit it. He told you that. I thought he’s been a much better player in Round 2.”

McLellan said sometimes players have to look in the mirror which is exactly what Boyle did in this case. He is one of only four San Jose players - Antti Niemi, Ben Eager and Niclas Wallin are the others - to have lifted a Stanley Cup.

This is the time of year where experience can make a difference.

“I don’t think enough players admit it quickly enough,” said McLellan. “Self-evaluation is the most powerful one. You can’t always have a group of coaches showing you and telling you.

“If you can accept, and evaluate your game properly and make your own adjustments, it’s much more powerful than hearing it from a coach all the time.”

Boyle said there are going to be ups and downs during every season - even in the playoffs.

“Throughout the course of a long season you’re going to have a stretch of games where you’re just not feeling it for what reason,” said Boyle. “It was just a little stretch and now I’ve got my energy back.

“If my legs are going, my head is going and everything is going. Things are going to be better.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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