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Appreciating Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle

The best fourth line in hockey?

The best fourth line in hockey?
The best fourth line in hockey?
Jamie Sabau

Dominic Moore had a very solid regular season that spurred most of us into talks about how the team should bring him back, even at the expense of not being able to bring back defensive powerhouse Brian Boyle. Now that the Rangers have reached the Eastern Conference Finals, can you imagine what (or where) this team would be without Dominic Moore or Brian Boyle on the fourth line? A huge part of the Rangers success in the postseason has been their depth and although the D. Moore/Boyle line isn't putting up gaudy offensive numbers they've contributed to the Rangers success more than most of the roster has.

Dominic Moore has continued to be the Rangers best faceoff man while Boyle has excelled in the physical aspect of the game and is tied for the team lead in hits. Both Boyle and Moore seem made for playoff hockey. They don't take shifts off, they finish their checks, they are tireless forecheckers, and they are both outstanding penalty killers. Both Boyle and Moore have scored two goals apiece and while that might seem like a modest number considering the 14 games the Rangers have played it should stand out as quite a lot considering how low-scoring the games the Rangers have played in have been.

Dominic Moore has a game-winning goal in the 2014 Playoffs and Brian Boyle, of course, scored the all-important first goal of Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Prettiest goal of the year for the Rangers? Probably.

What was something that we heard all series long in last year's series against the Boston Bruins? The Bruins had the best fourth line in hockey and the Rangers, quite clearly, did not. Furthermore, the Rangers had a coach that, for the most part, ran with three lines and seldom used his fourth line. Now the Rangers have a rock solid fourth line, more depth than we've seen on the team in years, and find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals. There must be something to that whole "depth" thing we've been trying to pin down over the past few years, huh?

In the Habs and Bruins series we saw the Bruins fourth line outclassed by the Habs fourth line of Brandon Prust, Dale Weise, and Daniel Briere (Briere is not a mainstay but played on the fourth line in Games 6 and 7). A huge storyline in this series is going to be the Rangers depth at forward versus the Canadiens depth at forward and who wins this series might depend on which team gets more out of their bottom six. Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton had an awful series against the Habs and the Bruins watched hard-earned momentum slip through their hands when "the best fourth line in hockey" took the ice. It looks like that title should be taken away from them, especially while Shawn Thornton wears black and gold.

If not for the rotation of Derek Dorsett and Dan Carcillo I'd humbly offer up the Rangers fourth line as legitimate contenders for that honor. Even with the changing cast on right wing, the combination of Boyle and Dominic Moore has played a huge role in the Rangers success in the regular season and in the 2014 Playoffs. As per Boyle and Moore are among the league leaders in defensive zone starts and they've both been instrumental on the penalty kill and the forecheck. They are never a liability when they're out on the ice. Remember when our fourth line used to have one or two worthless players that we had just to keep the other teams' one or two worthless players in line? That made a lot of sense, right?

Something that has gotten lost in all of the coverage of Martin St. Louis's personal tragedy is Dominic Moore's return to playoff hockey. Dominic Moore is the Rangers nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy for returning to the game of hockey after taking a year off to mourn the loss of his beloved wife Katie. We know how close this team is right now and if you don't think that the guys are giving it their all not only for Marty but for Dom as well, then you're crazy. I couldn't be happier for Dominic Moore and how successful and inspiring his return to the game he loves has been. How instrumental was Dominic Moore against the Penguins and Sidney Crosby? Moore is hardly an "agitator", although his style of play can certainly ruffle feathers. For whatever reason, he got to Crosby and the Penguins in that series and it made an immense difference in the series. He drew penalties, he made big plays, he distracted the Penguins big line, and he was a huge part of the Rangers overcoming the powerhouse Penguins in seven games.

I know that the possibility of one or both of Boyle and Dominic Moore not returning next season is a real one. And to me, that's scary. It's scary because we finally have a coach that trusts and will use his fourth line and there's a real chance that the heart and soul of that fourth line might be pulling a different sweaters over their heads next season. So I'd like to encourage Rangers fans to enjoy watching Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle against the Canadiens. Enjoy what fourth line hockey is supposed to look like. It isn't all about fights, after the whistle bullshit, and agitation. It's about effort, heart, and doing whatever you are capable of doing to help your team win hockey games. That is just what Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore do on a daily basis, and that is a big part of why this team is in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Let's go Rangers.