Here is Josh Thomson’s story from The Journal News and lohud.com:
By Josh Thomson
GREENBURGH – Brian Boyle joined the Los Angeles Kings in 2007, right around the time they imported Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty and other core players who have since turned the franchise into perennial Stanley Cup contenders. When asked now if he thought they were building something great back then, Boyle scoffed.
Back then, he never thought that far ahead.
“I was stupid. I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I was just trying to make it.”
The former first-round pick earned his label as a “bust” with the Kings. Seven years later, with free agency looming, Boyle has established himself as a fixture for the Rangers, who will play in L.A. Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“I’m 29 now,” said Boyle, who will enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. “I was 22 when I signed with them. A lot of things are different.”
For Boyle, who played some defense in the minors and then was viewed as more of a power forward, the most obvious changes are his role and the expectations for him. Both were reset when the Rangers traded a third-round pick for him at the 2009 draft.
At first, Boyle’s modest offensive contributions unnerved fans hopeful the Rangers had stolen a first-round talent. Instead, he has steadily established himself as the leader of the team’s checking line and a top penalty killer.
“He’s really solidified a good presence on our fourth line,” Brad Richards said. “He’s scored and done some big things in big games — really big games. You need depth, and he’s added depth. Obviously, the (penalty-kill) part is huge.”
Boyle has formed Alain Vigneault’s first-choice duo with another fourth-line forward, Dominic Moore. The two even have provided some offense at even strength.
Boyle has two goals and four assists in these playoffs; he fed Moore for the winning goal in Game 6, a 1-0, series-clinching win at home against the Canadiens.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Steve Dagdigian, Boyle’s former high school coach at St. Sebastian’s in Needham, Massachusetts. “I keep telling people that when he was in high school, he was a 6-6, 6-7 shortstop. He’s got hands. He can move. It’s not surprising to me that he can adapt in different ways athletically.”
Looking back, Boyle believes his inability to adapt off the ice was a major undoing at first. His prep school, college and minor-league hockey were all played within a 90-minute drive of Hingham, where he was the middle child of 13 kids.
“Oh, I grew up a lot. I know I was coming out of college and was older than some first-year guys, but I was never really away from home,” Boyle said. “To kind of go through the challenges when I was away from home was an experience that has ultimately made me better.”
With his maturity, the hulking 6-foot-7, 244-pound center has also channeled his nasty side, using his body to smother opponents or create traffic near the net.
Rarely does a period end without Boyle lingering near the bench to exchange words with some foe.
“He wasn’t naturally a physical guy,” Dagdigian said. “I don’t know if it’s just because he was so big so early, but he has really been able to add that into the game, which I guess you better do when you’re that big in the NHL.”
VIGNEAULT: “I LIKE OUR CHANCES …”
GREENBURGH – In one long breath, Alain Vigneault was certain to get the message out that his Rangers will be the underdogs (and they are, according to Vegas) against Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup final.
In a shorter one, though, the Rangers’ coach made sure to voice his confidence.
“Going into Philly, people were probably 50/50 that we’d get through that (series),” Vigneault said before the team flew to Los Angeles Monday. “Going into Pittsburgh, I would probably say there were a lot more people, experts, picking Pittsburgh. … Going against Montreal, other than a few New York reporters, I think everybody else across Canada was, ‘Montreal in four or five.’ So throughout these playoffs, and it’s not going to change now, we’ve been the underdog.
“Even though a lot of people aren’t going to give us any chance, I like our chances. I like our group; I like our focus; I like the way we compete. And I know L.A.’s been there before; I know they’ve won before; I know they’ve been to three Game 7s and won (them all), they’ve beaten the Stanley Cup champions. I get that. But we’re going to try real hard, I can promise you that.”
Old friend Gabby: The leading goal scorer in the playoffs, with 12, is Marian Gaborik, a two-time 40-goal scorer for the Rangers who was jettisoned to Columbus at the 2013 trade deadline for Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett. Los Angeles got him at the ‘14 deadline.
“He’s on fire,” said his old friend, Henrik Lundqvist. “He’s been playing really well the whole playoffs, and he can play a huge part for them. That’s why they’re in there. Twelve goals or something, and he’s doing his thing. He’s one of the guys we have to be sure we keep our focus on and make sure we know when he’s on the ice. He’s a sniper, he’s fast, and he finds the net pretty good. But they have a bunch of guys who like to get open ice and get going, so that’s one of many challenges for us.”
“They definitely have got size, and they added speed and scoring when they added Gaborik, obviously,” Vigneault said. “They’re the real thing. They’re the real deal. Big challenge.”
Ins and outs: Cam Talbot remains out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, and David LeNeveu, who has been practicing and traveling with the team, could possibly back up Lundqvist in Game 1. He said he’s been having a blast. “This is why we play,” he said.
Winger J.T. Miller (probable shoulder injury) skated on his own again Monday, and Vigneault said he could practice with the team in L.A. on Tuesday. John Moore still has one game to serve on his two-game suspension, and Daniel Carcillo is awaiting word on the appeal of his 10-game suspension for abusing a linesman. He has served three games.
The Rangers signed goalie Mackenzie Skapski, their sixth-round pick in 2013, and defenseman Calle Andersson, a fourth-rounder in 2012.
Stanley Cup Final
(Best of seven)
Game 1: Wednesday at Los Angeles, 8 p.m., NBC
Game 2: Saturday at Los Angeles, 7 p.m., NBC
Game 3: Monday at Rangers, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Wed., June 11, at Rangers, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Game 5: x-Fri., June 13, at Los Angeles, 8 p.m., NBC
Game 6: x-Mon., June 16, at Rangers, 8 p.m., NBC
Game 7: x-Wed., June 18, at Los Angeles, 8 p.m., NBC
Photo by Getty Images.