BOSTON – For a guy with just five games of NHL experience entering this season, who was a healthy scratch for 23 of the Bruins’ first 26 games this campaign, Johnny Boychuk has made a large splash in a short time.
With his goal in the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay Thursday night at TD Garden, Boychuk now has five on the season in 42 games. That’s a total enough to tie Zdeno Chara for second on the team among blueliners, and one shy of team-leader Matt Hunwick. It’s also a pace for around 10 goals, an amount any team would take from a rookie skating on the back end in the NHL for a full season for the first time.
“That’s not bad; just OK. I don’t know, there were still a lot of chances I could’ve scored on or anyone could’ve scored on actually,” said Boychuk, obviously unable to reflect on his own accomplishments in light of his team’s tough night.
“But I just want to win. It’s not about scoring goals and getting points. It’s just about two points right now and it really doesn’t matter, just as long as anybody can help contribute.”
The Bruins’ defensemen have been every bit inept as the forwards at putting goals on the board this season for the league’s lowest-scoring club. Lately, however, the boys on the back end have been contributing a bit more. With goals from Boychuk and Chara Thursday, the Bruins have received four goals from blueliners (two from Boychuk) in their last five outings. Boychuk thinks that’s the product of the defensemen trying to aid the forwards more, and a little bit more comfort.
“I think it’s getting better now because he go down (low) more. We’re joining the rush a lot more and creating more opportunities,” he said. “So that’s probably it. At the beginning of the year, we weren’t jumping up too much. We weren’t comfortable jumping up and now that we’re getting comfortable jumping up, we’re getting more goals from the defensemen and that’s helping.”
With Andrew Ference signing a contract extension Wednesday, the Bruins have four blueliners under contract for next season. Boychuk, who re-signed with the organization for a one-year deal after he was the AHL defenseman of the year with Providence in 2008-09, is not among those in the fold as of now. He wants to stay and hopes to get a deal done. It’s obvious Boston likes him because even when he wasn’t playing, he was often lauded by general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien for his work ethic in practices and morning skates.
“You’ve just got to stay positive and keep going. Just keep a positive attitude and work as hard as possible,” he said.
With an approach like that, and a goal-scorers touch, it’ll be tough for Boston to part ways with Boychuk.