WILMINGTON, Mass. — It might be a bit of an indictment of his teammates that Johnny Boychuk has accumulated 15 more blocked shots in these playoffs than the next closest Bruins player through 11 games.
But it’s mostly a credit to Boychuk’s fearlessness in the face of a flying puck that he has blocked 37 shots in the postseason, including 24 against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Boychuk famously took a Mikael Samuelsson puck to the face in February and missed a few games with an eye injury.
He has since adopted the use of a tactic that makes the die-hard Red Sox fan look as much like Dustin Pedroia as a Bruins standout: the baseball slide.
“It seems to be working but I don’t want to do it all the time because they’ll just toe drag me and make me look ridiculous,” said Boychuk after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “You’ve got to pick your spots when you do that, when you see a guy is actually going to shoot it. Then you can maybe slide and do it. But if you think he might pump fake it, you might as well stay on your feet.”
His own plight hasn’t stopped Boychuk from going after blocks, so it’s no surprise that injuries to Vancouver’s Sami Salo (testicle) and Philadelphia’s Ian Laperriere (head/concussion) haven’t stopped him. The rookie is trying to make sure he does everything he can to prevent the Bruins’ ship from sinking.
“I’ve been trying to block a lot more shots lately, just to help Tuukka out. Not that he needs any help but it does help a little bit even if it’s a little block here and there,” he said.
The next-best Bruins player in blocks is Zdeno Chara with 22. While there’s been a lot of focus on the Boston blueliners’ inability to get shots through, it might be a good idea for Boston to clog up those lanes too. After all, the Flyers have increased their number of goals scored from in front with tips and deflections. If the Bruins can’t move the Philly forwards’ bulky bodies out, Boston will have to find a defensive alternative.
“You can just try to block the shot too, instead of trying to clear them out. You block the shot and we go on the rush 3-on-2,” said Boychuk.
If more Bruins join Boychuk’s block party, the team might give people an actual reason to celebrate.