BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk already had his Stanley Cup playoffs true-grit moment in a Game 4 overtime win against the Maple Leafs. That's when he blocked shots with each of his legs during successive shifts and couldn’t stand up, so he got on his knees to face a shot in front of an open net.
Boychuk said he’d block a shot with his face if he had to at that point, and it’s easy to believe him. That’s because the hard-nosed, rugged blueliner is doing all of the dirty work during these playoffs for the Black and Gold, leading all NHL players in the postseason with his 32 blocked shots.
Boychuk is clearly already banged up from the shots he's blocked, and he appeared to get a stinger in the second period of Game 1 Thursday night against the Rangers when he went hard into the corner for a hit. He missed the Rangers target, and slammed hard into the boards before skating off gingerly, favoring his right arm. Boychuk quickly went to the dressing room before finishing out the rest of the game without any issues.
Those games are just part of the playoffs experience, he insisted.
“There’s always going to be bumps and bruises along the way,” said Boychuk, who is unarguably the Bruins player with the longest threshold for pain given some of the things he’s played through. "You can’t let things affect you. That's our philosophy, stay even-keeled and make sure you bring your A-game no matter what.”
Boychuk did that and then some in the second-round opener against the Blueshirts.
No. 55 was all over the place Thursday night against the Rangers, and in the best way possible. Boychuk blocked four shots and threw out six hits in 26:55 of ice time. He also finished with five shots on net plus a pair of struck posts that could have won the game for the Bruins.
While there are others who could stand to improve in some of those high-effort categories for the Bruins, Boychuk has set the bar for his teammates over the last few weeks.