Though Brian Boyle returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday night’s match against the Senators as a healthy scratch, his hold on a spot seemed rather tenuous.

Until, that is, the big man scored his first goal of the season midway through the second period break a 1-1 draw here Sunday afternoon in the Rangers’ 4-1 victory over the Capitals.

Or, perhaps, it remains a game-by-game matter despite Boyle’s strong game being rewarded with the goal.

“Brian knows where he stands,” coach John Tortorella said before the Blueshirts’ fifth victory in their last six games. “As always, players make the decisions on how much they play and all that [by their performance].

“He has to play better, period. He’s been better on faceoffs but winning faceoffs certainly isn’t going to merit him being in other situations. I hope he can be better, because that makes us a better team, but J.T. Miller has outplayed him.

“I’m not crazy about playing J.T. in the middle,” Tortorella continued, “but he’s been better and better there, and there comes a time where you have to go through your lineup and roles, and you’ve got to figure out who’s going to be where.”

Tortorella said that is looking for more grind from his team, but that that specific attribute wouldn’t necessarily have to be provided by a line centered by Boyle, who did play on a unit with Brandon Prust (and often Ruslan Fedotenko) the last couple of years that filled that role.

“I’d like to get more grind, but I don’t think it specifically needs to be from that group,” the coach said. “Quite honestly, the way Miller keeps growing—I keep waiting for something to go wrong, but not so much “wrong” but I’m watching him very closely because I don’t want to screw up his development—it’s almost where I’m looking for someone to play with him and create offense with him because he has created offense for us.”