Brian Boyle Netted His First Career Hat Trick On 'Hockey Fights Cancer' Night, Because Of Course He Did
815. Prior to last night, that's the amount of times Brian Boyle had stepped on NHL ice for a meaningful game as the type of big man who is expected to create room for the scorers as opposed to doing a heck of a lot of it himself, before later leaving it having not tallied at least three goals on the afternoon or evening.
There was really no inclination that 816 was going to be much different, except for the fact that he was already living proof that sports have this weird way of making absolutely no sense by finding the perfect times to make all the sense in the world...
I don't want to imply that this is some sort of Angels On The Ice situation, as Brian Boyle was simply rewarded for doing the type of dirty work that's helped him find his niche in a younger, faster NHL the last few seasons. However, there's just something surreal and cinematic about that reward coming in the form of his first career hat trick on a night devoted to the ongoing battle against the deadly disease he recently sent packing into remission.
It's only right for Brian Boyle to be on the front lines as Hockey Fights Cancer, but the odds of him fully flexing his muscles on the scoresheet while his strength as a person was on everyone's brain are only reasonable if you see them as slightly fixed by fate. On a night where the 4th line showed out in a desperately needed dominant win over a quality team, it's heart and soul put forth a performance to remember. Not that we'd ever forget what he and others like him has been through in trying to kick cancer's ass, but it's tough not to be inspired by someone delivering it a knockout punch by repeatedly lighting the goal light at the end of the tunnel.
As for the game itself, a lot to like. Just as the whispers regarding Will Butcher's scoring slump and possession struggles were starting to pick up some volume he almost instantly silenced them, and the Devils finally cruised to a comfortable victory in a building other than their own. I can't say that the 4th line putting up a bunch of points in the process was a direct result of Kurtis Gabriel not being on it, but I'll settle for it being a reason that he's never, ever on it again. Regardless, it was a solid team win ahead of a second half of a back-to-back that provides them plenty of opportunity to build on it, assuming they kick the nasty habit of playing down to their less intimidating competition.