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Puck Daddy

Brad Boyes looks to bounce back, learn to hate the Rangers in new home on Long Island

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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SYOSSET, N.Y. -- Brad Boyes signed with the New York Islanders on July 1 after spending the past season and a half with the Buffalo Sabres. Despite the prolonged break due to the 113-day NHL lockout, he hasn't quite yet built up the amount of hate for the New York Rangers that's required of all Islanders.

"I just got here," Boyes said with a laugh after Thursday's informal skate with teammates. "Obviously, I know of the rivalry. I think you gotta be in one of the games to really get a sense of it."

He'll get a sense of it soon enough, and often. With the NHL's likely 48-game schedule for the 2013 season set to be announced this weekend after the players' union ratifies the CBA agreement, the Islanders will be seeing the Rangers either four or five times this year, per Bob McKenzie.

It'll be a shortened season, but an important one for the 30-year old Boyes. He's scored just 39 goals over the past three seasons, a disappointing follow-up from his breakout seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09 when he netted 43 and 33 goals, respectively, with the St. Louis Blues.

Boyes was helped playing with the likes of Paul Kariya and David Backes during those two career years and now he'll likely get the chance to play with Matt Moulson and John Tavares, an opportunity that helped P.A. Parenteau notch 67 and 53 points the past two seasons.

"That'd be awesome," Boyes said. "That'd be something I'd really try to take advantage of. At the same time, as long as I know what my role is and what I need to do, that's something I'll look forward to."

The market wasn't busy for Boyes' services over the summer, allowing the Islanders to sign him to a low risk, high reward 1-year, $1 million deal. But talking with former teammates Doug Weight and Brent Thompson, who are now both Islanders assistant coaches, helped sell Boyes on coming to Long Island. The mix of young up-and-coming players, along with, in his opinion, an underrated depth on the roster played a big part in his decision to sign.

Boyes knows he needs to take these next 48 games and get his game back to where it once was.

"That was the hope, he said. "Take a year and get an opportunity. That's what I thought of this year, so I'm looking forward to that. And then get back to the way I've been and the way I know I can play. And just getting back to having fun again."

Islanders GM Garth Snow took a chance on Moulson in 2009 and P.A. Parenteau and Michael Grabner in 2010. All three paid off for the team. Is Boyes the next in line?

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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