Boychuk feels good, hopes to return for Caps

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Boychuk feels good, hopes to return for Caps

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Johnny Boychuk said he feels good and that if it were up to him hell be suiting up for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals.

The 26-year-old defenseman looked like he was down for the count when he suffered a left knee injury smashing into Arron Asham for a third period hit last week. He feared the worst when he went down on the ice after his left knee buckled inward. So did everyone else.

But instead the injury was ruled a sprain, and the rugged, hard-hitting defenseman went through a full practice, ignoring the medical staff that told him he wasnt cleared for contact.

I wasnt supposed to take any battles today, but I got in there for couple of battles and bumps to see how things would feel, said Boychuk. Im feeling good. It was a good step practicing with the team. There were no snags to hold me back, so I kept going.

I hope I play. I obviously dont want to sit out. Well see how it feels later on today and tomorrow, and then go from there. The injury still hurt when it happened, but it wasnt as bad as it could have been. Thats for sure.

Claude Julien said that the chances of Boychuk being ready to return Thursday night for Game 1 against Washington were not impossible.

Im still confident that Johnny Boychuk will be ready to start the playoffs, said Claude Julien. Tuukka Rask may be a little bit longer. But both players are still day-to-day.

Boychuk has essentially been Bostons No. 3 defenseman all season, and is the only other blueliner along with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg to average more than 20 minutes of ice time per game.

His return will be important for Bostons long-term success, and it allows him to continue waging a one-on-one war with Alex Ovechkin that the two physical, hard-nosed players have developed over the years. When they get together, it's a couple of big hockey bodies participating in some good, old-fashioned hockey violence.

Its fun hitting Ovechkin. To some players it might not seem all that fun, but hes a great player, said Boychuk. When he throws his body around you can feel it. When you do the same thing back to him Im sure hed say the same thing.

Its going to be fun to play against them . . . especially in the playoffs and maybe even seven games.

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

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Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels:

QUOTES

* “He just had very good command the entire night. Stayed ahead in the count [and] pitched to all quadrants of the strike zone. He used his four-seamer in on some powerful right-handed hitters in their lineup.” John Farrell on Rick Porcello’s performance.

* “We needed a win bad and swung the bats well and played good defense. That’s a big win for us.” Rick Porcello said after his win in an interview with NESN.

* “24 hours ago we were probably in a much different place mentally after a ball game like tonight.” Farrell on the win.

“That was probably the first time I sat on off-speed pitches this whole year. I took a chance, took a gamble.” Jackie Bradley Jr. said on his home run.

NOTES

* Rick Porcello completed his first game in a Red Sox uniform in the 6-2 win. The CG was the fifth of his career and his first since he threw three in 2014. The righty has 14 wins, one win shy of tying his career high.

* Xander Bogaerts had his first multi extra-base hit performance of the season since June 11. He’s only done that twice this season. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

* David Ortiz logged his 85th RBI of the season in the win and Mookie Betts his 67th. Heading into Friday night’s game, the two were one of five pairs of teammates ranking in the top 20 in RBI. The list includes Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

* Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 32 straight games.

STARS

1) Rick Porcello

Porcello had his first complete game in a Red Sox uniform, stopping Boston’s losing skid at four games.

2) Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts finished with a double and a home run -- the only Boston hitter with multiple hits. He also led the Red Sox with three RBI and scoring twice in the win.

3) Dustin Pedroia

In addition to walking in his first two at-bats, Pedroia had a base hit -- and another walk -- scoring twice on the night.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 win over Los Angeles:

Rick Porcello is not fazed by his fellow staff members’ struggles.

Although his teammates continue to deal with frustrations on almost a nightly basis, Porcello got the job done and put Boston in a position to win once again.

The second-inning double by Daniel Nava should have been a single, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not misplayed a funny hop. If that hit is a single, the next ground ball is a double -- and the following grounder ends the inning.

One of the most impressive components of his outing was dealing with Cole Kalhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to finish his outing after already facing them three times on the night.

Xander Bogaerts had his first multi-hit game in a week.

Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a long time -- but that can feel like a long time given the shortstop’s output this year.

It was also his first multi extra-base hit performance since June 11.

Oddly enough, those are his only two games of that kind this season.

In addition to the win, Porcello did the bullpen a favor.

Not necessarily because the relievers needed rest, but with Ziegler’s last two rough nights, they could use a break.

Although Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz got warm late, it was more so to keep them fresh for the coming games since they haven’t thrown much.

Additionally, he gave an example for the Red Sox starting rotation that they are in fact capable of going the distance.

Tim Lincecum is barely a shell of what he used to be.

That first inning was hard to watch. The former Cy Young Award-winner threw eight straight balls, and somehow managed to work past. Even his final throw to first base in he opening frame looked like it was going off the mark.

Just hard to watch in general, which made it all the more shocking that the Red Sox couldn’t score against him.

Good for them that he never adjusted, and they took advantage of it in the ensuing innings.