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There is a lot the San Jose Sharks can credit Dan Boyle for.
At 35, he remains one of the best-skating and highest-endurance defencemen worldwide. He logged more minutes than all but six NHL players over the season and also led his blue line in assists, points and, surprisingly, penalty minutes.
It is human nature to see a small, fast and skilled defenceman and assume he cannot defend. The moments that fit that assumption stick out more than the ones that counter it.
But I have news for you: Dan Boyle is among the best defenders on this unit.
Not just because he has the speed to recover from pinching and get in the way. Because his savvy allows him to make the key play at the key time, and his experience has made him more versatile.
Only Brent Burns had more takeaways. Only Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray had more blocked shots.
Boyle was unparalleled in avoiding pressure in the Sharks end. No one on the team sets higher standards or has achieved more success.
Moreover, he is as tough as any of them, not because penalties prove anything: Boyle was only fifth in hits, but he had just 10 fewer than the blue line's second-best hitter, Brent Burns. He played 12 games with a broken foot and continued to block shots.
During that period he struggled, scoring just one point and finishing minus-six. Because there was no disclosure of the injury until after the fact, conclusions he was washed up were quickly refuted.
Only Erik Karlsson and Dustin Byfuglien scored more points per game from the blue line than Boyle did when healthy. Only 14 players had a better plus/minus rating than he did when not slowed by the injury.
For the season, his assist-to-giveaway ratio (.59) was fifth on the Sharks among players with even five points. But it was first on the blue line by almost 40 percent over Vlasic. Boyle's hits, blocked shots and takeaways added up to the third highest total on the team.