Travis Boyd looked poised to make the NHL roster and be in the Capitals lineup for the opener for the first time in his career. Luck, however, had other plans. Boyd was injured blocking a shot in St. Louis in a preseason game. He suffered a lower-body injury that kept him out the first month of the season.
Now, finally, Boyd is nearing his return.
“I think I'm pretty close,” Boyd told reporters Wednesday. “From a personal side, the hard part is physical -- the battles and just how quick it actually happens in a game vs. out there during practice. Really the only way to get used to that is to play. Even doing some five-on-five, D-zone drills in practice and stuff, that helps, but once you get in a game, it's completely different than practice.”
Boyd visited doctors on Monday. The doctors and training staff are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss what the plan will be for Boyd going forward. When asked if playing in Thursday’s game in Montreal was a possibility, Boyd said, “I’m not sure yet.”
This is not the first time Boyd has had poor timing with a health issue. It was thought he could crack the team’s lineup when a serious illness kept him not only off the ice, but away from the team for several days. He ended up playing only one playoff game during last season’s Stanley Cup run.
“I had a couple it seems like bad timings,” Boyd said. “Obviously, no one ever wants to get hurt. Just timing wise for me, I think it was pretty bad timing just given my situation and really tough for me, too. My goal coming into training camp was to make the team. That was a big goal of mine all summer and that's what I was working towards. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job and I felt like I had a chance to be here and play Game 1 and then you got hurt and there's nothing you can do about it now but keep coming every day and trying to get back up to speed as much as I can. Hopefully, if I'm given a chance, I can come in and hopefully pick up where I left off.”
Boyd was locked into a training camp battle with Nic Dowd for the role of fourth line center. Now 10 games into the season with the team still adjusting to a new head coach and a new season, it would seem difficult to get Boyd back into the lineup.
Reirden, however, emphasized the positive aspects of Boyd’s game and made it clear that he was someone he wanted to see back.
“We didn't forget about how his training camp went and the things he's been able to do,” Reirden said. “Our team, as we continue to improve and get better in some areas and we've gotten a little bit more secondary scoring here in the last few games, but we're still looking to add to that. That's an important component of any successful team in this league is being able to have four lines that can score. So he's a guy that's earned that opportunity. We've got to put him in the right situation to succeed when he gets that chance.”
Dowd has showed flashes of offensive upside in his first 10 games as a Cap, but there’s no question that Boyd’s offensive ceiling is much higher.
“We think a lot of him,” Reirden said. “It's an injury that derails him, but I thought he came up in shape and ready to go and I thought he had a strong camp. As we find out more from our doctors on when he's ready and what's the best way to get him out there then we'll do that. But I think he does have more offensive upside than some others.”
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