Best Panthers Player (2014)

Brad Boyes

After three full periods of hockey, an overtime, and the first two skaters of a shootout, nothing separated the Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres in a January game in New York. The score was still knotted at 1, and now both teams had come up empty on their first two penalty attempts in the shootout. The Sabres' third try also rattled off the keeper. The Panthers were up. Score and they'd win. Miss again and they'd end with a disheartening tie. There was only one choice to step up to the puck. Brad Boyes skated to center ice, his teammates leaning over the boards and watching intently. He skated toward the goal, weaved to the side, and snapped the puck. It pinged loudly off the post, hit the goalie in the back, and — for what seemed like seconds — hung in the air. Then it slid quietly over the line. Panthers win! "You gotta be kidding me!" the Panthers announcer shouted. That's exactly what a lot of fans would have said if you'd told them preseason that Boyes would become the beating heart of the Panthers offense this year. Boyes has always been one of the most effective penalty shooters in NHL history, but after two monster years in St. Louis from 2007 to 2009, injuries and inconsistency stalled the winger's career. Until his first year in South Florida, that is. On a rebuilding squad, he stayed healthy and led the team with 20 goals. Only one of those rattled off a post and a goalie to win the game, but — as Boyes showed time and again on the ice this year — it takes talent to catch breaks like that.


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