One of defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s best attributes as a pro hockey player, as explained by Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julilen, is the 24-year-old’s shot.
The former Colorado Avalanche farmhand is hoping the Bruins will now give that shot a shot, in a regular-season NHL game, now that they’ve recalled him from Providence (AHL) along with Matt Lashoff to make up for the loss of injured backliner Aaron Ward.
Boychuk got the call Monday evening while he was shopping. He went to retrieve his gear and made his way to Boston. Today he joined the Bruins for practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. He’s hoping this NHL stint goes better than his first. Last January, Colorado recalled him from the AHL. He then skated two games on defense and two games at forward for the Avalanche before he was sent back down with no points and a plus-1 rating on his ledger. This season, his first in the Boston system, he’s impressed the brass with 4-19-23 totals.
“Mostly power play. I just try to get the puck on net as much as possible,” Boychuk said about where his points at Providence were coming from. “When you shoot the puck, good things happen and it has been down there on the power play.”
Through his four years as a pro, last winter’s cup of coffee has been Boychuk’s only taste of NHL action in the regular season. He said he’s always been told his foot speed holds him back, so he took some power skating classes in the summer and he said the improvement is visible. He’s also been working on something that’ll definitely help him aid the Bruins if he cracks the line-up.
“More or less just trying to move the puck quicker,” Boychuk explained when asked today what he’s been working on with the P-Bruins. “Before, you’d hang onto the puck and there’d be a guy on you. As soon as you get the puck, you get your head up and take a look, it helps out like 100 percent more – before you get the puck have your head up more. So that’s what I’ve been working on.”
The Bruins can never have enough puck-movers, so it’ll be interesting to see where Boychuk fits in, if anywhere. Although Julien hasn’t seen Boychuk since the season started, he liked what he saw from the Edmonton native in training camp.
“He’s a guy who’s got a big shot. He’s a big player as well, his mobility is OK, he competes hard,” said Julien. “He had a decent camp and he’s had a real good start to the season in Providence. That’s one of the reasons we got him, to give is some depth on the back end. And he hasn’t disappointed.”
•The Bruins now have seven defenseman. That should create some extra competition, but also cover the Bruins if the injury bug continues to sting.
“It does in a sense (create competition), and then on the other hand, we’re going to Florida a couple games. And it’s probably a good thing for us now to bring some extra players,” Julien said. “We’ve got guys that are back on the ice today, but we’ve got some guys missing practices for maintenance – maintenance means there’s cautiousness there. So we’re just being cautious and making sure we’ve got some extra bodies just in case.”