According to Andrew Gross of the Bergin Record, Rangers forward Brian Boyle , who has been out with a left ankle injury since March 21, is close to returning and could play as soon as tonight. The problem is, the Rangers almost seem better off without him.
The issue is that Boyle has played most of his minutes on the Ranger’s fourth line. Since he’s been absent though the line has been Jody Shelley, Artem Anisimov, and Brandon Prust and they've been playing pretty well without him.
Prust has been the best of the group scoring goals in three straight games and four points in his last six games.
Anisimov has four points in his last seven games and even Shelley has contributed with three points in seven games.
No, that line hasn’t suddenly turned into a group of Wayne Gretzky’s, but they have been productive and hard working. On top of their production is the fact that Boyle only managed four goals and two assists in 70 games this season. With just three games left every point is huge and with the way that line has been playing head coach John Tortorella should tread carefully in splitting up the checking line.
If the Rangers really want to get Boyle into a game it would probably be a lot better to scratch Aaron Voros and put Boyle on the third line with Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan. As much as I don’t like Voros, that’s not necessarily a better idea as Voros has been playing with a lot of energy since returning to the lineup after getting the Prucha treatment for most of March.
Although with Voros’ talent level you could make a case that his two recent points were really just flukes and that the team would be better off with Boyle.
At this point though, the Rangers would probably be better off without Boyle in the lineup unless he is legitimately at 100 percent.
What are your thoughts? Does Boyle fit in with this team right now?