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.

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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

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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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