The 29-year-old center had surgery on his left knee over the summer and finally had his first taste of NHL action since. Truthfully, it could not have gone much better for him.
About halfway through the first period, Coyle would score after crashing the net. Although the goal would be placed under review, it was concluded that there was no direct kicking motion. Thus, it would thankfully stand and Coyle would officially be on the board. This could be a nice confidence booster for him heading into the regular season.
Coyle’s night on the scoresheet did not end there, though. After he won a faceoff in the B’s defensive end, it allowed the team to have a clear breakout. From here, Coyle made a perfectly placed pass to Craig Smith, and the 32-year-old winger let off a hard wrist shot while skating down the wing. Although Vitek Vanecek initially made the save, he left a big rebound and Taylor Hall was able to quickly put it in. This was a great sight to see, as all three members of the Bruins’ expected second line contributed to the goal.
Heading into the season, it is understandable that fans are worried about how Coyle will perform in his 2C role. In 51 games last season, he scored six goals and recorded 16 points. There’s no denying that it was a notable decline in production, but he is being put in a very good position to have a bounce back season. Keep in mind, during the 2019-20 season, he also scored 16 goals and had 37 points while playing third line minutes. Therefore, he is capable of producing offensively. It’s just a matter of getting back to that level.
In fact, he’s even had greater success in the past. During the 2016-17 season with the Minnesota Wild, he scored 18 goals and had 56 points in 82 games while possessing a larger role. Expecting him to replicate these totals may be a bit far-fetched, especially after all of these years since, but he also is still just 29 years old. With this, an increase of production from last year should honestly be expected.
Coyle also has a grand opportunity to play with two strong wingers in Hall and Smith. He did spend some time with Smith at times last season as well, but the real X factor here is Hall. There aren’t too many teams who have a better second line left winger than him. In fact, one could argue that he would be a first liner if he played for the vast majority of other teams in the league. Coyle hasn’t had the chance to play on a line with a player of Hall’s ability, at least for an extended period of time, since joining Boston. This has the potential to benefit him immensely.
The loss of David Krejci stings a lot, but both Jack Studnicka and Coyle at least were very solid this preseason. Here’s to hoping each of them can help soften the blow of Krejci’s departure this regular season. If Coyle can continue to mesh well with his new linemates, it could be a very solid campaign for him. I’ll be rooting for him.