Dustin Boyd changed teams and things turned out the same.
For the second year in a row the 23-year-old forward will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Last year it was a member of the Calgary Flames. This time it’s with the Nashville Predators, who acquired him from Calgary in the final minutes before the league’s trade deadline last month.
“Coming here was a good opportunity for me – in Calgary they had a lot of forwards there,” Boyd said. “Unfortunately (the Flames) didn’t make the playoffs, but I came here to a good situation. … It’s a fun time of year.”
Boyd was scratched in the first two games following the trade – the Predators gave up a 2010 fourth-round draft pick – but then was been in the lineup for each of the final 18 regular-season contests. He scored three goals – two in one game – and had two assists as both a center and a wing.
The similarities to his time in Calgary extend beyond just the playoff opponent, though, according to coach Barry Trotz. And that’s not a good thing.
“Dustin has shown flashes of being a real good player and he’s shown flashes of being inconsistent,” Trotz said. “That … is something we’ve discussed actually, last week.
“That’s what I was seeing in Calgary when he was there. I understand what the other coaches were seeing. I need more consistency out of him. He’s a good player, and he just needs to realize what’s going to make him a really good player.”
Boyd’s playing time in his stint with Nashville has ranged from as little as 6:43 to as much as 16:17. His average ice time for the Predators (12:11) is virtually identical to what it was in 60 games for the Flames prior to the trade (12:14).
“The thing that makes Dustin a useful player is that he plays a number of positions,” Trotz said. “That helps him stay in the lineup, but at the same time the inconsistency pulls him out of the lineup.
“The inconsistency in his game makes him just a very average player at times. … That’s the reason you’ll see him sometime on the first line and then he’s back on the fourth line.”
Boyd had one goal in five games last year against the Flames, his first experience in the NHL playoffs. The Blackhawks won that series in six games and ultimately advanced to the Western Conference finals.
The result is something he’d like to see change this time.
“They have a lot of skilled players over there, and we know it’s going to be a tough series,” Boyd said. “There’s some experience in here, guys who have held the Stanley Cup. There are some young guys too but I think we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”