GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The big Ranger nicknamed "T-Bone" thought about the question that cut to the core of his sports heritage and frowned. "As much as I hate to say it, Yanks in six," said Brian Boyle, a Hingham, Mass., native and avid Red Sox fan.
For Boyle, it's not a change of allegiance. Call it an acceptance that Fenway Park will be empty in late October.
The 6-7 Boyle, who towers over teammates, also has accepted, perhaps just as grudgingly, his role as a fourth-line center on the Rangers, who will face his former team, the Los Angeles Kings, at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
"I know the situation here," said Boyle, 24, who was chosen 26th overall in the 2003 NHL draft but believes he didn't get a fair shot in Southern California, where he totaled eight goals and two assists in 36 games for the Kings the last two seasons. "I know I can score, I've done it all my career at other levels," said the former Boston College captain. "It was frustrating in Los Angeles, so I was happy with the trade."
Since winning the fourth-line job in training camp, Boyle has played limited minutes in the first six games, but his ice time has been increasing. He played 11:26 against the Leafs on Monday, including a rare 1:05 on the power play. "It's a bit of a boost to earn some trust," said Boyle, who has yet to register a point.
John Tortorella recalled that in camp, he noticed Boyle's size. "I didn't know who he was . . . he's a man-child," the coach said Tuesday. "From the reports I'd gotten, Brian was an offensive guy in college [65-75-140 in 159 games], but his game has had to change at the NHL level . . . He's a role player for us . . . We want him leaning on people and be hard to play against."
Notes & quotes: D Wade Redden, who collected three points in the 7-2 victory against Toronto, wasn't in shape at the end of last year, but is now, Tortorella acknowledged. "He's been taking hits to make a play, more consistent in closing people out quicker, he's been solid," Tortorella said.