Originally posted on Bleeding All Blue  |  Last updated 10/4/11

LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 9: Wojtek Wolski #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck against Brian Willsie #21 of the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on December 9, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings won 5-4. (Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Over the summer there was much speculation concerning the subject of who would be the left wing to pair with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik on the top line for the New York Rangers.  My position throughout was that Wojtek Wolski would get the first chance to prove he could utilize his talent playing with those two elite players.  Reports from camp have said there is chemistry from the trio, but Wolski has been battling a groin issue for the last week and is no lock to play this Friday in the season opener.  The hope is Wolski will practice tomorrow and play on Friday, but the Rangers also have to prepare in case that doesn’t happen.
While Wolski has been on the shelf, coach John Tortorella has been shuffling Brian Boyle, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Dubinsky in and out with his Richards and Gaborik looking for who could fill the spot.  If Wolski is unavailable on Friday which Rangers’ forward should get the spot on the top line? 
Based on their play in the preseason, Brian Boyle should be the guy to get the first look in that role. Dubinsky could certainly fill the role and do very well there, but removing him from Anisimov and Callahan changes the dynamic of a very effective line, which is certainly not ideal.  Fedotenko gives you a known player who has a past with Richards and would allow little disruption throughout the rest of the lineup, but Boyle has just outperformed him during the exhibition season. 
Stepan was a player rumored to get a shot there during the summer, but the grouping has not been given a big chance together and he has shown more chemistry with Zuccarello.   Zuccarello has not really been considered because he was significantly more effective as a right wing vs playing the left side last season.  However, with the level of improvement that Zuke has shown this fall it would not be a bad idea to consider him if Boyle did not work out and Wolski was still unable to go.
As for why Boyle should be the guy to get the shot.  He has been able to keep up Richards and Gaborik skating wise and his size and strength have shown well playing off their skill.  Boyle is the kind of player that can do the dirty work along the boards, especially on the forecheck, and also create more space for his line mates.  The most noticeable thing about Boyle this preseason has been his improvement in net presence and understanding how to use his size in front of it.  Watching Boyle work down low, especially against HC Slovan, showed that he has taken yet another step in developing his game in understanding the angles necessary to be open for passes and a presence to disrupt the goaltender.
After a career year last season and a big new contract some might have expected to see Boyle rest on his performance, but everything from the exhibition season has him looking even hungrier to prove it was no fluke.  Putting him with the Rangers most talented offensive players would reward that effort while giving him the prime opportunity he has earned to put his ever increasing abilities on display.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Seahawks release awesome Marshawn Lynch tribute video

WATCH: Alleged LeSean McCoy fight video surfaces

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker