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From The Press Box


From The Press Box is a weekly column written by FloridaPanthers.com and NHL.com writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

Have a question for Alain? Be sure to ask him through twitter @apoupartFins.


Veteran Playmaker

Brad Boyes has proven to be a steal for the Panthers thanks to his impressive offensive skills

Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 1:00 PM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Veteran Playmaker
Brad Boyes has proven to be a steal for the Panthers thanks to his impressive offensive skills

It’s the kids who have attracted most of the attention when it comes to the Panthers forwards this season. It’s understandable because, as the song says, the kids are all right.

But let’s not overlook or underestimate the contributions of veteran Brad Boyes, who has become one of the many steals — Tim Thomas and Tom Gilbert also come to mind — for the Panthers this season.

Remember, this was a proven commodity without a contract as late as mid-September in camp with the Panthers on a professional tryout. Boyes not only performed well enough in camp to earn a contract, he’s gone on to become one of the team’s top offensive performers all season.

Boyes leads the Panthers with 12 goals and he’s part of what has become one of the top lines in the NHL with rookie sensation Aleksander Barkov and veteran Sean Bergenheim.

And then, of course, there’s Boyes’ fantastic production in the shootout, where he’s 6-for-9 this season. Boyes’ six shootout goals are tied with Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom for second-most in the league behind the seven scored by Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, who will visit the BB&T Center Thursday night.

No one should be surprised by Boyes’ success in the shootout. After all, he is the NHL’s all-time leader with 37 shootout goals and his career percentage of 46.8 is the second-best among all those with at least 23 shootout goals, topped only by the 53.8 mark of Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders.

Truth is, what Boyes has done offensively all season isn’t really surprising. That’s his game. He’s not the fastest skater in the league, isn’t known as the greatest two-way player, but he’s got great offensive instincts, finds himself in the right place more often than not, can pass and can put the puck in the net.

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 4: Brad Boyes #24 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with teammates against the Nashville Predators at the BB&T Center on January 4, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Let’s face it, there’s a reason Boyes is playing on the top line, just like there was a reason he was skating with superstar John Tavares when he was a member of the Islanders last season.

“He’s a really smart player,” Tavares said after the Islanders’ morning skate Tuesday. “He always seems to be around the puck, around the net and has got a nose for being in the right place and making some really good plays. He found me a lot last year, so I’m happy to see he’s doing well down here and having some success.”

Tavares added that he was surprised that no team saw fit to sign Boyes until just before the start of the 2013-14 regular season, although the salary cap no doubt played a role in that.

“I thought for sure, whether he was back with us or with any other team, that he would get another opportunity for what he proved last year,” Tavares said. “I’m just happy to see him get that chance and show he’s still a very effective player and can still produce.”

Boyes wasted little chance to produce against his former team Tuesday night, and Tavares just happened to be on the ice to see it first-hand.

After grabbing a loose puck in the neutral zone, Boyes came in on a 2-on-1 with Barkov, and what they produced was pure magic. If you haven’t seen the highlight yet, make it a point to check it out.

It was Boyes on the left side passing to Barkov on the right. Back to Boyes. Back to Barkov, who one-timed it into a wide open net for a Panthers lead just 32 seconds into the game.

Veteran Scottie Upshall was asked the last time he had seen that kind of passing play on a 2-on-1.

“Not since Lemieux and Gretzky were in the league,” Upshall replied. “But these guys, it’s vision, it’s just finishing the play. Those two guys, you look at the chemistry they’ve been building here lately, that line, they’ve got some good things going.”

For his part, Nick Bjugstad called the goal “pretty cool.” He then added this about Barkov and Boyes: “They can move the puck, I can tell you that.”

Indeed, the 18-year-old Barkov and the 31-year-old Boyes look like they’ve been playing together for years. It’s been a great pairing, to be sure.

By now, it’s clear the Panthers made a good choice by selecting Barkov second overall in the 2013 NHL draft. It’s also evident signing Boyes in September was another great move.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 72 13 34 8 47
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 74 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 70 13 26 -3 39
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 74 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 65 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 64 14 17 -2 31
B. Campbell 75 3 21 2 24
B. Pirri 42 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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