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BoC Gameday: Old School

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Kids today don't have any respect for their elders.
Kids today don't have any respect for their elders.


Next Game

San Jose Sharks
@ Los Angeles Kings

Monday, Nov 28, 2011, 7:30 PM PST
Staples Center

Complete Coverage >


 

Dan Boyle is awesome - usually. In the past few games though...he hasn't looked that great.

This article from David Pollak discusses the struggles Boyle has been going through recently:

He is without a point in his past six games [...] Add a handful of penalties and seven giveaways -- half his total for the entire season -- over that same stretch [...] In San Jose's 1-0 victory over the Blackhawks last Wednesday night, Boyle took three consecutive penalties -- tripping Dan Carcillo, shoving Bryan Bickell into the boards and delaying the game when a clearing attempt went into the crowd. Overall, he calls that game "probably the worst I've had in a San Jose uniform."

Ouch. Yeah, I think most Sharks fans have noticed Boyle's rough patch over the past few games. When Boyle makes a mistake it really stands out, because it has happened so rarely during his time with San Jose.

Unfortunately, when you're talking about a player of Boyle's age, every "rough patch" raises the unpleasant question: has the inevitable decline arrived?

For a hockey player, Dan Boyle is really old. He's 35.

Boyle turns 36 in July - and not many defensemen play much past 36. Out of all the defensemen who retired sometime in the 2000s, only nine percent played until they were 37 or older (according to this cool site with lots of very-official looking graphs and stuff). As an offensive defenseman who has relied upon finesse and speed for much of his career, getting older may be especially hard on Boyle.

More from Pollak's article:

When he looks for an explanation of what is going wrong, Boyle talks about much of the problem being between his ears, a combination of frustration and waning confidence. He says it isn't age or injuries or illness, though his wrists are wrapped and the flu was a problem a few weeks back.

Jeeze, is anyone else super depressed by those two sentences? Frustration, waning confidence, injured wrists and a nagging flu, all afflicting a man grown old too soon who is in denial about the harsh realities of his life...it's like Dan Boyle is living a Tom Waits song.

But it gets worse:

Boyle also attributes part of his difficulties to changing strategies in the NHL today.

"The game's changed," he said. "Everybody's playing the same way -- the neutral zone is pretty much eliminated, which is where I get a lot of my offense. Everybody just fires long bombs, chipping it in. It's just a little bit more frustrating for me."

Boyle earned his reputation for his ability to carry the puck up ice if the quick pass out of the defensive zone isn't a good option. He knows he has to adapt.

"The opportunities aren't there like they used to be," he said. "Just working on it, just trying to be better."

Oh man, I need a drink.

Dan Boyle is an old dude. He a great player, he's a huge asset to the team, and most teams in the league would kill to have him on their roster - but he's old. He'll probably pull himself out of this current rough patch soon, but the days when the Sharks could rely on Boyle to be rock-solid every night and to spark the offense a couple of times a game, well...those days may be turning into quiet evenings very soon.

Sorry if I got a bit melancholy there.

If it makes you feel any better, just remember that everyone gets old and dies eventually, and in a few hundred years you, me, and Dan Boyle will all be forgotten by history.

So don't worry.

Prediction: Boyle ain't dead yet. Sharks win 3-1, with two goals from Boyle.

Today's gameday post was inspired by Old School, my 62nd-favorite movie.