Clear 44° Good Morning
Clear 44° Good Morning

Rangers' fourth line providing big goals in playoffs

Dominic Moore celebrates his goal at 16:20 of

Dominic Moore celebrates his goal at 16:20 of the second period along with Brian Boyle #22 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the first round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 27, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

The Rangers, hoping to wrap up their first-round playoff series Tuesday night in Game 6 in Philadelphia, have gotten terrific play from their stars, most notably Martin St. Louis.

But you might look back and see that the difference-makers in this series were the Rangers' grinders.

Dominic Moore had a big goal in Game 5 to put the Rangers up 3-0; after the Flyers clawed back late, Moore set up fourth-line mate Brian Boyle for the empty-net clincher, giving the Rangers' fourth line as many goals (three) in the series as the Flyers' top line.

"You would expect those guys [to raise their games]," coach Alain Vigneault said of Boyle, Moore and Derek Dorsett. "You're seeing the same team night after night. There's a physicality that's obviously a lot more relevant in playoff hockey than it is in the regular season. Those guys bring that dimension in that they wear the opposition down, or try to, just like the opposition is trying to wear us down. Those guys have had a real big impact for us so far."

Moore has a history of being a reliable playoff performer. Sunday's goal was his second in as many games in this series and his ninth in 49 career playoff games with four different teams.

Since Boyle's breakout 21-goal regular season in 2010-11, his scoring touch has taken a backseat to his checking and penalty-killing abilities the last three seasons, during which he's had 19 total goals in 202 regular-season games.

But during that same stretch of three seasons, Boyle has been a timely scorer in the playoffs. Sunday's goal was his seventh in 33 playoff games in the last three springs.

"It's more of a team thing to me," the 29-year-old Boyle said. "Marty said at the start of the playoffs, it's 20 guys driving the bus. That's really the case. You never know when it's going to end, so you have to make the most of every shift, every game, every opportunity you have."

There is a personal aspect to it this postseason. Boyle will be an unrestricted free agent once this ride ends. Despite his popularity inside and outside the dressing room, the Rangers might not have room for the sort of skills he brings.

But he has embodied the Rangers' way. And he's been a reasonably clutch playoff performer, something that could swing in his favor when the summer comes.

"Even if you don't feel great physically, you go out every game and you prepare to compete. That's what I've learned in five years here," Boyle said. "It's part of the culture."

New York Sports