Most would call it a “character win,” and the story line until next game will be whether or not the Sharks can build on their 4-3 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers. But character is what shined through tonight, primarily with the finish from Dan Boyle.
With the trade deadline approaching there has to be a ton of uncomfortable people around this team, from players all the way up to general management. No one has it harder right now than Boyle though, who clinched the win for the Sharks with this disgusting shootout goal:
The talk of trading Boyle has gone further than living room-GMs with Twitter accounts. The defenseman has a limited no-trade clause, meaning he’s one of the few movable pieces Doug Wilson might actually be willing to get rid of, the only exception being he can only go to a team he’s comfortable with. Pierre LeBrun thinks Boyle should go to the New York Rangers. Greg Wyshynski thinks moving Boyle makes sense too (perhaps to the Blues?).
How does Boyle feel?
“I don’t want to be anywhere else,” He said. “You guys have been with me for five years and you know what I bring to the table. I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s not fun to hear [the trade rumors].”
So it’s only fitting that this game — a game in which the Sharks rallied back from two goals down to force a shootout — would come down to Boyle. He’s not only San Jose’s time-on-ice leader, he’s their alternate captain at a time when their primary isn’t quite playing up to snuff. He’s widely considered the emotional cornerstone of this team. Boyle is the one guy known to get fired up when the team is truly struggling. He owns the teams failures as his responsibility, and when he fails himself, he always repents.
Boyle’s game-winner tonight was reminiscent of the 2009-10 Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup with the Colorado Avalanche. After accidentally putting the puck into his own net in Game 3 of the series, Boyle was livid at himself. Drew Remenda described Boyle’s mindstate afterwards as “needing his shoelaces and belt taken away from him.”
So it was only natural that mere minutes into the first period of Game 4, Boyle opened up the scoring by himself. It’s just the kind of person he is, leading with his play.
Maybe it was a little bit of brilliance for Todd McLellan have Boyle batting cleanup in the shootout. With all the pressure — pressure that Boyle admits has gotten to him — it was exactly the occasion Boyle rises to, and rise he did.
I’ve heard the Sharks described as a team “lacking killer instinct and fight.” Those traits, or lack thereof, usually lead back to leadership, but if you’re looking to Boyle as the culprit, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Boyle has more heart than most. He could be the heart of the Sharks.
Could they use a trade to shake things up? It’s one of many possible solutions, but trading Boyle is not the answer. He wants to be a Shark. He said it tonight, but then he proved it with his play.