More than any other Ranger except perhaps Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle has seen his share of training camps. But the biggest change noticeable in the 38-year-old defenseman's first camp in New York is easy to describe.
"A lot more skating, definitely a lot more," Boyle said before his third preseason game for the Rangers, who beat the Blackhawks, 3-2, in a shootout at Madison Square Garden Friday night. "That's the main difference."
Boyle, who left San Jose after six seasons, said this fall marked his "15th or 16th camp, and yeah, definitely, sometimes the motivation is tough. Sometimes as you get older, you're looking forward to the regular season."
Like other veterans, Boyle has seen sweeping changes in summer preparation.
"When I first started and a little bit before, guys were coming into camp to get into shape," he said. "You always had a handful of guys who weren't. Now everybody has their own personal trainers. Everybody's working out three, four weeks after they get eliminated. And I just think the pace of camps is a lot quicker than it was."
Early in the offseason, Boyle generally takes it easy and gradually ramps up his training. This summer was a little off-kilter because he and his family moved cross-country. They now live in Connecticut, near St. Louis' family.
Boyle has two assists in the preseason ("the second was better than the first," he said). He has been playing on the second D-pair with Marc Staal and the first power-play unit, and he is closely watching his new teammates' tendencies on the ice.
Coach Alain Vigneault isn't concerned about Boyle or St. Louis being ready for opening night Thursday.
"Those guys have been around so long and they're so professional in their preparation," Vigneault said. "They know what it takes to get themselves ready. They've done exactly what I'd expect them to do during practice. For the games, they're obviously trying to get their hands and find their legs and get their wind . . . Once the puck drops [against the Blues], they'll be ready.''
Notes & quotes: Ryan Malone scored in the ninth round of the shootout for the Rangers. Malone, coming off a hip flexor injury, also redirected a pass from J.T. Miller with 4:28 left in the third period to forge a 2-2 tie.The Blackhawks had scored twice in 2:20 late in the second period to overcome a 1-0 deficit after St. Louis scored for the Rangers . . . By unanimous media vote, Anthony Duclair, who had three goals and two assists in three games, won the annual Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the top rookie in camp.