Charlie Coyle can recall hearing the same tired old phrase at the rink for close to two decades now: “SHOOT IT.”
While the 26-year-old forward has had a solid NHL career, averaging 40 points per season in his five full years with the Minnesota Wild, Coyle’s shooting habits have been a point of emphasis for him to work on, both in terms of volume and where he takes his attempts.
While his shooting percentages are in the midst of a four-year dip — sliding from a strong 15.0 percent in 2016 to its current rate of 8.8 percent this season — his lack of attempts might be the most concerning facet of his offensive game. With just a 6.63 shots-for rate over 60 minutes of play, Coyle currently ranks in a tie for 12th place among Bruins skaters this season, with players like Joakim Nordstrom (6.83), Danton Heinen (7.06) and even Trent Frederic (7.56) ahead of him.
“I’ve been told to shoot more since I was 10 years old,” Coyle said. “It’s really nothing new. I think that’s always been my mentality, but I think I’ve worked on my shot enough to use it more often and create scoring chances off rebounds, and things like that. I mean over the years, it’s my seventh season I think playing, you’re still learning. You’re still finding ways to be a better player, and I think shooting the puck more is definitely something I can see that needs to be fixed, to put the puck in the net a little more.”
Of course, Coyle can still more than carry a line if he’s generating offense by distributing the puck and opening up space with his 6-foot-3 frame, and Boston is going to count on him to do so — especially given Don Sweeney’s comments about Coyle’s responsibly to help “drive a third line”.
Based on rushes from Friday’s practice in St. Louis, it looks as though Coyle has the keys to the third line, as he logged his first skate with his new club back at his natural position of center in a bottom-six role.
The addition of Coyle automatically provides a boost to a line that has given Bruce Cassidy headaches all season long due to its inability to consistently generate offense. Trading for Coyle does make this team better, but who exactly will the pivot be playing with going forward?