Dan Boyle: San Jose Sharks Defenseman is Just Danny Being Danny

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer INovember 8, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks in action during their game against the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion on October 10, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If there is any Shark who hates losing more or works harder than Dan Boyle, I haven't heard of him.

Boyle, who came to the Sharks in an offseason trade prior to last season, made his first ever all-star appearance in his first year in teal.

However, for the former Stanley Cup champion, a wasted chance at another ring during last year's playoffs was simply inexcusable in Boyle's mind.

At the "State of the Sharks" event last May, Boyle was the only one of four Sharks who looked vividly pissed off that he was sitting on a platform at HP Pavilion instead of skating on its ice.

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau were also in attendance but Boyle seemed to be the only one giving honest, straight-forward answers. Thornton and Marleau were in their typical nonchalant attitudes and the soft spoken Pavelski was hidden from the spot-light with the three big dogs taking the brunt of the questions.

But of the four, it was only Boyle who straight up said the team's performance was inexcusable and that he would work that much harder to make sure next year would be different.

And although Boyle was speaking primarily of the playoffs being different, he has been true to his word so far this season, as his play in particular has been different.

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"Danny Boy" as some fans like to call him is on pace for a career season. Despite last year being his first All-Star game, Boyle's best statistical season came in 2006-07 with Tampa Bay when he posted 20 goals and 43 assists for 63 points.

This season Boyle is currently on pace for 73 points as he already has 16 through the first 18 games and the most impressive part about his start is that he is only going to get better.

Just recently has it come out that Boyle was playing the first month of the season with a broken thumb. But despite the injury which makes it extremely hard to shoot the puck, Boyle still managed 13 points in 14 October games.

Now that he is admittedly healthy for the first time this season, look for Boyle's goal totals to rise and rise quickly.

Even with last night's one goal, one assist performance in his team's 5-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Boyle only has three goals on the season.

There is no doubt that the injury to Boyle's thumb had limited his ability to make the individual plays like he made on his goal against the Penguins on Saturday.

With his thumb healed, and the rest of the injured Sharks starting to return, it wouldn't be out of the question for Boyle to score 25-plus goals and finish with over 80 points.

His ability to carry the puck and throw defenders off with slick skating moves and puck handling maneuvers, has made Boyle the best offensive defenseman in the Western Conference.

Adding Boyle's ability to by far the most offensively gifted group of forwards the Sharks have ever had, and Boyle is almost a lock for a career year.

Imagine when the Sharks' power-play (which was just 1-19 at home prior to the Penguins contest) finally gets going inside the HP Pavilion.

San Jose's man-advantage is currently fourth in the league at 25.3 percent but is still producing at just a 12 percent clip at home after their two-for-six performance against Pittsburgh.

Once the Sharks get the power-play on track at home, they are almost assuredly going to finish the season No. 1 in the league and probably by a large margin. With all the weapons the Sharks have on the power-play, Boyle's assists are going to start tallying up even on his off nights.

But the great thing about Boyle is that he doesn't need the man-advantage to score goals or put up points. Even when nothing is going on during a game, Boyle can come out of nowhere and make things happen all by himself like he has done on two of his three goals this season.

Simply said, no matter the situation in the game, Boyle has the capability of putting up points and putting them up in bunches.

If it weren't for Dany Heatley stealing credit for Joe Pavelski's second goal of the game on Saturday, Boyle would have had his second assist and third point of the game.

With his team on a roll (winning nine of their last 11 games) and his thumb no longer bothering him, Boyle may just start to take off and begin wowing Sharks fans all over again like he did last season.

Once he gets on that roll, some fans will be surprised just how much better he'll seem than last season.

I, on the other hand, will just chalk it up to Danny being Danny.