Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blues need Boyes to return to form

Winger fell to 14 goals a season ago
after netting 76 previous two years

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It's no secret that the Blues' climb in the standings hinges on its offense. The defense and goaltending were solid all of last season, yet it wasn't enough to get the team back to the playoffs for the second straight season.

The Blues scored 217 goals last season, which was good for 17th in the league. That amounted to 2.66 goals per game.

Of course, the Blues will need contributions from everyone to increase that total, but the guy that stands out above them all is none other than Brad Boyes.

Boyes has seen his goal production dip from 43 goals to in 2007-08 to 33 in 2008-09 to a mere 14 last season.

Why the drastic fall? There are many reasons. At the top is the power play production that saw Boyes go from 11 power play goals during his 43-goal campaign to only two a season ago. He tallied 16 during his 33-goal campaign.

"One thing that definitely helps out is getting back to the power play the way it was a couple years ago," Boyes said. "... That will definitely help out."

Can Boyes be that 40- or even 30-goal scorer again? The possibility exists. Reaching 30 goals is certainly attainable, and if the Blues can get that, it will certainly bode well for this season.

Boyes is the Blues' sniper. He is their go-to guy.

"He's got a lot of skill," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "He's just got to get himself and his linemates in position to be effective and to use those skills. Putting Brad in those situations is a no-brainer for us. (But) they don't give you anything cheap in this league. You've got to earn it."

Boyes' previous success was no fluke. His accuracy was unparalleled at times. His 43-goal season saw him take 207 shots, converting an unprecedented 20.8 percent of those shots. That number nose-dived to 7.1 percent a season ago after taking 197 shots.

"Last year, he had some bad bounces on him," teammate David Perron said of Boyes. "We feel he's a guy that can get back to the goals he scored the previous years. For him, it's pretty easy. You give him the puck in good areas ... you can see in the practices when you give him the puck in the right areas, he scores almost every time."

Which won't prevent Boyes from shooting the puck once again this season. You have to shoot to score, right?

"Yeah, just shooting pucks. Getting pucks on net, getting into the right areas," Boyes said. "That's going to be a big help.

"The numbers obviously, that's production. I'm a guy that needs to produce, to get in on the score sheet and goals when we need them. ... There is that (theory) of play your game and stuff will come, but I definitely want to put up numbers. That's why I'm here."

The fire is especially hot for Boyes, a Mississauga, Ontario native who sat by and watched the postseason last season as the Blues missed out by five points.

Boyes understands a couple goals here and there would have made a big difference. That's why a return of Boyes on the score sheet is extremely vital.

"He's got to play to his strengths, (but) he's also got to play a sound team game," Payne said of Boyes. "We don't need to sacrifice a heck of a lot, or cheat to certain areas of the ice, in order to gain some offensive opportunities."

Instead of second-guessing and thinking about the past, Boyes, 28, would like to think things will improve in 2010-11.

Sure, getting those gaudy numbers is nice, but competing for the big prize is what drives players to succeed.

"I've played four playoff games in my career," Boyes said. "To be a big contributing factor and us getting back into the playoffs and pushing from there, that's the best part of the year is playing in the playoffs. I want to get to them and do well in them. That's what I'm looking to do this year."

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