There were fewer bone-crushing, open-ice hits and less appearances by his rocket-like shot in Johnny Boychuk’s second full NHL season.
But the defenseman served as a solid, sound complement to Andrew Ference on the Bruins’ second pair throughout the postseason, when some high-octane offenses were slowed down when it counted most by Boston.
There’s no telling how the pressures of his first multi-year contract or some troubles returning from an early-season fractured arm, not to mention extra playing time and tougher match-ups, contributed to Boychuk’s slow-down in production. He even found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch a couple times in the second half of the season.
None of that mattered once the season was through and he’d helped Tim Thomas and the rest of the defense shut out Vancouver in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Maybe in the Bruins’ season of defending the Cup title he’ll regain his previous, big-play form.
Regular season: 69 GP, 3-13-16, plus-15
Playoffs: 25 GP, 3-6-9, plus-12
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12 at a cap hit of $1.875 million
Best regular-season moment: In a game played with a playoff atmosphere at TD Garden, Boychuk played his most complete game in months. While he didn’t register a point in the 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, he fired three shots on net (plus three that missed the target), blocked three shots and threw five hits in 22:09 of ice time. One of his hits was one of his patented hip checks, which upended Lightning forward Nate Thompson.
Best playoff moment: With the horrors of the 2010 collapse still hanging over the Bruins, they entered the third period of Game 4 against Philadelphia tied at 1. A Boychuk shot, which was tipped and knuckled its way into goal 2:42 into the last stanza, proved to be the game-winner in a sweep-completing 5-1 win. Boychuk finished the night with a plus-2 rating and three hits.
Worst moment: Although he posted an even rating, Boychuk was horrible in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. He was on the ice for seven of the nine goals in the game, including all five against. While some of those goals were on the Lightning power play, Boychuk was often outworked and/or out of position on goals. His ill-advised pinch led to Martin St. Louis’ game-winning goal on a 2-on-1.
Regular-season grade: C
Playoff grade: B. Boychuk’s added aggression on offense helped offset some of his errors.
Carnac predicts … Boychuk will have to play his way into a regular top-four role in the regular season, or he could be a piece of attractive trade bait next season.