Boychuk playing big role on both ends of ice

Boychuk playing big role on both ends of ice
May 19, 2013, 11:00 pm
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BOSTON – In Game 1 of the second round series against the New York Rangers, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk hit a post in the final seconds of the third period that could have won the game in regulation.

He did it again with another Johnny Rocket in overtime prior to Brad Marchand’s overtime game-winner, and then buried his face into his hands on the Boston bench in deep frustration. That game ended well for Boychuk and the Bruins, and No. 55 made sure Game 2 finished with the same happy ending on Sunday afternoon as he popped in the game-winning strike in the second period en route to a 5-2 victory over the Blueshirts at TD Garden.

It was Boychuk’s third goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs in games after managing just one score in 44 regular season games while grinding through the shortened 48-game lockout season. For him, the reasons behind Boychuk finally getting into the thick of the playoff scoring are pretty simple.

“It’s just hitting the net I guess, and sometimes its luck,” said a modest Boychuk. “It’s just getting shots on net and hitting the net. Better chance to score when you hit the net.

“I’m just getting it through and getting it on net. It’s not as easy as it looks sometimes. But the guys have been doing a good job getting to the front of the net, and all you have to do is miss your forward. Easier said than done.”

Clearly Boychuk isn’t in the lineup for his howitzer shot and his newfound goal-scoring ability in the playoffs, though. The rugged, tough-as-they-come blueliner is a physical machine when it comes to rolling out body checks and blocking shots in front of Tuukka Rask. Boychuk blocked three shots in Sunday afternoon’s win, and leads the NHL by a wide margin with 35 blocked shots in 9 postseason games for the Black and Gold.

He famously blocked a pair of shots in the Toronto series after he’d taken pucks in both of his legs, and could only stand up on his knees while willingly blocking another shot with his chest or face rather than allow it to get to the net.

But it’s all in the job description for a guy like Boychuk.

“It’s just normal, I guess. You want to get used to getting in the way of the puck, so you don’t get scored on,” said Boychuk. “Sometimes it happens where you can step up and block them. You want to do anything to help the team, and it just happens if you’re playing well defensively and blocking shots.”

One thing is certain: Boychuk was a solid top four defenseman during the season logging more than 20 minutes per night, but he’s become a playoff warrior for the Bruins with three of his veteran D-man teammates out of the lineup with injuries. Everybody rightfully points to the big minutes absorbed by Zdeno Chara when Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden went down, but Boychuk has proven to be an extremely valuable piece to the Black and Gold playoff drive.