Boychuk hopes to keep the offense coming for B's

Boychuk hopes to keep the offense coming for B's
September 15, 2013, 7:45 pm
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Johnny Boychuk isn’t divulging any secrets prior to the regular season, but he just might have stumbled onto a little something during last year’s playoff run.

After never scoring more than five goals in any of his four NHL seasons with the Bruins, the 29-year-old defenseman potted six playoff goals in 22 postseason games en route to the Stanley Cup Final. Some of it was clearly “puck luck” in hockey parlance, but some of it was also an adjustment Boychuk made toward the end of last season.

Rather than continuing to wind up and unleash his trademark heavy slap shot every time he was put into a shooting situation, Boychuk was opting to switch it up and go with the wrist shot when pressed for time by the opposing shot-blockers. That meant more shots that actually got to the desired destination, and far more shots that ended up in the back of the net.

“It would be nice,” answered Boychuk, when asked if he was looking to build on last year’s offensive outburst in the postseason. “You want to do whatever you can to help the team win. During the playoffs it seemed to be going in for me, and getting shots through was a key.

“If I keep doing that then it’s always easier when you’re scoring points, than when you’re not.”

Boychuk is already known as a solid block of defenseman willing to dole out big hits and battle valiantly around the net with his sturdy 6-foot-2, 225 pound frame, but a greater offensive dimension could really change his value to the Bruins. It could also get the blueliner more time on the power play from the point spot, and that’s something his coach would love to see.

“I hope he can answer that question, because our message is always ‘hit the net.’ Sometimes you feel it and sometimes it’s about confidence,” said Julien. “In the playoffs, whether he got that one goal that just got his confidence going again and kept it going, that’s one thing.

“We’re encouraging them to shoot more. We’re encouraging them to put pucks on the net and everything else. We want production from our back end so it’s up to them to do the things we ask them in order to make that happen. Whether it’s supporting the play or hitting the net and releasing your shot quicker, when you talk about all those things a lot of it is about confidence.”

As it is, Boychuk is one of four Bruins defensemen already locked into one of the six defensemen spots along with Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid, and has been a top four defensemen since coming into the league. But the potential has always been there for Boychuk to elevate his game to a higher level within the NHL, and perhaps be closer to the guy that put up 20 goals and 65 points for the Providence Bruins just five short years ago.

Perhaps this season Boychuk will realize some of that vast potential in his late twenties, as so many other NHL defensemen have in the gradual development process at such a challenging position.