WILMINGTON -- While the majority of the power play talk surrounding the Bruins has been about plopping 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara in front of the net, there have been other changes as well. One such alteration has been the addition of Johnny Boychuk to the second PP unit at a point position along with Dougie Hamilton.
Clearly Boychuk -- like any other red-blooded NHL player -- is enjoying extended looks on the power play to start the year.
“Our [unit] could do a little better, but the power play in general has been doing well for us,” said Boychuk. “Any time you get a chance to be out there on special teams, whether it’s the power play or penalty kill, you’re trying to do your very best to stay on there. I hadn’t been on the [PP] for a while, so we’ve been practicing a lot at getting it better.
“A lot of it is about just getting used to moving the puck around, and doing little drills that will make a difference out there.”
Boychuk has seen sporadic time on the PP over the last few years as the B’s coaching staff looked for answers within a unit that’s struggled at times, and he would seem to be a natural fit. His booming shot from the point creates rebounds are a key asset for the man advantage, and Boychuk showed great improvement in that area last spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The 29-year-old had one goal and 75 shots on net in 44 games during the regular season, and then went for a clutch six goals scored and 63 shots on net in 22 playoff games last spring.
He began to vary the trademarked 'Johnny Rocket' slapper with wrist shots from the point, and he has always been good about keeping his head up in offensive situations where a cross-ice pass could yield an easy goal.
“The way we’ve got it set up this year is to really use his shot. At the end of last year he started shooting the puck better and more, and he was able to score some goals for us,” said Claude Julien. “It’s an opportunity for him to get some time on the power play, and the hope is that he can keep shooting the puck like he did last year.
“He has a good shot, but he also does a good job of keeping his head up when he’s shooting the puck. He doesn’t get his shot blocked much, and can really find those shooting lanes.”
The key now for No. 55: Aiding his second power play unit in producing a few goals now after the first unit did some offensive damage against the Red Wings last weekend. All they need to do is find another 6-foot-9 guy to plop in front of the net like the top unit has done with Chara.
“That would be a tough feat,” said Boychuk. “But Yao Ming isn’t doing anything right now, right? We’ll get him in there.”
If only it were that easy.