By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
With the loss of David Krejci in the 2021 offseason, questions surrounded the second-line center position for the Boston Bruins. With Krejci leaving, it was Charlie Coyle’s opportunity to move up the Bruins lineup this season. Many people questioned whether the former third-line center would be up for the task based on his 2020-21 season performance with 16 points in 51 games.
If the NHL had an entire 82 game season, Coyle would’ve been on pace for a mediocre 26 points. While he was having a lackluster season, his former linemate Jake DeBrusk also struggled with 14 points in 41 games for the Bruins. At the end of the season, it was imminent that the Coyle and DeBrusk combination would be switched up.
Through the Bruin’s first eight games, Coyle has fulfilled the role as the second-line center for Boston. Considering the inconsistent play game-to-game thus far from the top line, Coyle has had to play a significant role for Boston when their top players haven’t shown up. He’s recorded five points through the first couple of weeks to start the season and seems to be shooting more often than usual.
Since coming to Boston, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has been adamant about Coyle being too passive and wanting him to shoot the puck more often. Before this season, Coyle had averaged 1.87 shots per game during his tenure with the Bruins. So far this season, he’s averaged 2.12 shots per game playing on the second line. While the season is still young for the Bruins, Coyle’s performance has been reassuring for Bruins fans and management.
If Coyle continues to create opportunities with his shot and underrated puck control, he could surpass his 56-point career-high season with the Minnesota Wild in 2016-17. He’s currently on pace for 51 points in a full 82 game season, but with more playing time with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith will come chemistry between the three.
One cause for concern is Coyle’s faceoff percentage. He has a faceoff win percentage of 40.9% to begin the season, which is the lowest percentage out of the three other centers on the Bruins roster. Coyle has had a below 50.0% faceoff percentage throughout the majority of his career. Even though Coyle has had an impressive start, there is still room for improvement.
While faceoffs aren’t one of Coyle’s specialties, he’s still positionally sound on both ends of the ice and is capable of controlling the game’s pace. Coyle’s Corsi so far this season at 5-on-5 is at 52.3%, which indicates that when he’s on the ice, the Bruins tend to control the puck more often than their opponents.
Coyle has added a brand-new look for the Bruins top-six with his physical (14 hits) and power forward style of play. With the Bruins being in a top-heavy Atlantic Division, every point matters, and Coyle will have to continue his strong play for the Bruins to be a playoff contender. Based on the way he has played up to this point, he has shown he can bring his game to the next level.