Charlie Coyle Becoming Key Factor For Boston Bruins In Playoffs

Charlie Coyle celebrates a goal.
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 25: Charlie Coyle #13 (R) and Danton Heinen #43 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after Coyle scored in overtime to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 25, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are the highest remaining seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs from the regular season. In the first round, the Bruins took down the Toronto Maple Leafs in a dramatic seven-game series. Now in the second round, they face the Columbus Blue Jackets. In Game 1 against the Jackets, the Bruins best player was easily Charlie Coyle. Coyle, a pre-trade deadline acquisition, is proving to be a massive factor for the Bruins in the playoffs. He has arguably been their best forward so far.

Charlie Coyle Becoming Key Factor For Boston Bruins

Just a few days before the Trade Deadline, the Bruins decided to make a change. Bruins move for Charlie Coyle appeared in the rumors for a while, but it had never materialized. General Manager Don Sweeney decided to change that. He pulled the trigger and sent talented forward Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild alongside a draft pick for Coyle.

Certainly, Coyle hadn’t had a good year in Minnesota where he collected 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 60 games. On the other side, Donato was promising and fans hoped he would be one of the future stars for the Bruins. This left fans in clear doubt after the trade was made.

Playing in 21 games to close out the regular season with the Bruins, Coyle recorded just two goals and four assists for six points. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Donato had four goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 22 games. This, again, only amplified the worries fans were feeling. They had traded away the younger, and better, Donato for an older Coyle.

The most important difference, though, was that the Bruins made the playoffs. Coyle hasn’t come to Boston to rack up points, his duties came up elsewhere. The Bruins knew what they wanted to accomplish. Before possibly long playoffs, they needed to solidify their third offensive line. Coyle offered both the skills and the experience.

Charlie Coyle Is a Part of a Great Trade Deadline by Boston

Many times, the Trade Deadline moves are judged based on the first few games after those trades take place. The Bruins, however, knew that their most relevant moment was about to come in the playoffs. By the time Coyle landed in Boston, the Bruins were well within the playoff picture and the team was clearly looking towards the post-season.

Alongside Coyle, the Bruins traded for Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. With the Bruins, the Swedish winger managed to play in just 10 games. In those 10 contests, he recorded one goal and two assists. Both Coyle and Johansson knew what their role was: provide depth. They knew that their time to shine will come once the playoffs start.

They didn’t have much time to build chemistry together as Johansson missed a lot of games with his injury problems. Ever since the last week of the regular season, Bruins Head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted these two guys to play on the third line together. In the first round series versus Toronto, Johansson had to miss another two games with an illness. But Coyle started to play his best hockey at the best time.

Coyle Possibly Being Bruins Best Forward in Playoffs

In Game 1 against Toronto, Coyle was one of the most visible Bruins forwards. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped him on multiple very good opportunities as Coyle came inches away from scoring, hitting the post. In Game 2, it was Coyle who opened the scoring en route to a convincing 4-1 win for the Bruins. During Game 3 on the road, Coyle scored a power-play goal to bring his team within one. In Game 4, he recorded an assist on a nice-looking play to set up the power-play tally for Charlie McAvoy.

Neither of the Bruins forwards played their best in Game 5. In an elimination Game 6 on the road, Coyle’s line, with Johansson and Karson Kuhlman, brought much-needed energy and speed. They didn’t record a point but definitely provided the plays needed to help the Bruins win Game 6 and force a winner-take-all contest at TD Garden. On Tuesday night in Game 7, Coyle scored an empty-net goal. In the first round, he ended up with three goals and one assist for four points in seven games and an overall very strong performance. Not many could overlook his big physical presence and skills.

In the second round against Columbus, the Bruins expect to play a very physical series. A heavy style of hockey, where you have to shield the puck and layout numerous hits, that’s a type of play Coyle isn’t unfamiliar with. So far he has had 27 hits, which is second-most among the Bruins. However, he made probably his worst play in the playoffs, when he failed to make an easy clear, resulting in the Blue Jackets scoring the tying goal. It was his fault but Coyle was eager to show his character to make up for the mistake. Later on, Coyle tied the game and went on to win it in overtime. It was his first ever Stanley Cup playoffs overtime goal.

Charlie Coyle Consistency an Example To Lead For Boston Bruins

In his eight games with the Bruins in the playoffs, Coyle has five goals and one assist for six points. On the team’s point list, he is the second most productive guy just behind Brad Marchand. In those eight games, Coyle also has a CF% at 54.17 and an xGF% at 70.58. From all of the Bruins players not missing a game so far, he leads his team in xGF%.

That kind of consistency hasn’t been there for the Bruins so far. Before the playoffs, you would never expect Coyle to have more points than David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk or Patrice Bergeron. But he has been the Bruins most consistent performer in the post-season. And when he commits an error, just like on that Columbus goal in Game 1, he responds in a huge way.

The Bruins could not afford to lose a home game in which they had four power plays and 71 shot attempts. Unfortunately, Coyle was the one who made that turnover on Blue Jackets tying tally. Fortunately for the Bruins, Coyle has that experience and responded to the bell. In a statement game, with both teams clawing for the early momentum, Coyle was definitely the difference maker. He’s clearly come into his own throughout this post-season.

The Bruins are pretty happy about their new third line. After scoring a game-winner against Toronto in Game 7, Johansson assisted on both Coyle’s goals in Game 1 against the Blue Jackets. Boston still has some issues with the offensive production from some of its top guys, but Charlie Coyle has been a pleasantly impactful player so far.

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