Boychuk 'really wanted to stay' in Boston

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Boychuk 'really wanted to stay' in Boston

BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk will be in Boston for a long time to come as the Bruins continue to lock up the defense corps that led to the Stanley Cup championship.

Boychuk, an impending free agent, signed a three-year deal with the Bruins that will take him through the 2014-15 season and earn him an average annual value of 3.36 million in salary. That slots him behind only Zdeno Chara in terms of contract value and pays him the going rate for a top-four defenseman in todays NHL.

Boychuk will make 3.1, 3.4 and 3.6 million over the three years of the deal and will provide him with partial no-trade clause protection over the early portion of the contract. The no-trade takes the form of NHL cities where Boychuk would prefer to land if a trade did arise. The deal came about largely because Boychuk loves playing in Boston, and wanted to remain with the Bruins.

Its the exact same thing that played out the last time Boychuk was an unrestricted free agent two years ago. Talks between the two sides began roughly a month ago and developed rapidly once both sides realize they had a common goal.

Johnny really wanted to stay here. I think thats the overriding theme. Hes obviously been a good performer for us, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli while announcing the signing. Hes a big, strong physical D. Ive had discussions with all our potential free agents and this is the deal thats come out of it so far.

Hes a Bruin-type of player: punishing and physical but he can also score with his shot. He chose not to test the market which is nice for us.

Chiarelli fairly projects a few things in his defensemans favor when discussing the new deal: Boychuks age (hes 28 years old) and the deliberate improvement in his game at a defenseman position where many late bloomers truly develop in the NHL as they enter their thirty something years. Above and beyond all that Boychuk would have commanded more money had he dipped his toes into unrestricted free agency.

The grass isnt always greener. He probably could have got more as a free agent. But hes also still young, said Chiarelli. In the old days youd have his rights until he was a 31 or 32-year-old player before he could go to market, so hes still a young player. Hes still learning. Hes an enthusiastic player.

Niklas Kronwall is a player that Boychuk could aspire to develop into as he continues improving in his own game and banks more power play time, but hell be getting paid in the neighborhood of former Bs defenseman Brad Stuart. Thats a fair comparable to Boychuk, and somebody that provides more toughness and defensive grit than Stuart does in Motown. Boychuk also stands in the NHLs top 10 in plusminus with a plus-23 and is pacing to match or surpass his career highs in goals scored and points.

Hes done all that while riding shotgun with Zdeno Chara and facing down the best forwards the rest of the NHL can thrown at them.

Johnny hasnt been on the power play much this year so his numbers are down. But he plays a solid 20 minutes, a heavy 20 minutes in high match-up roles, said Chiarelli. Im not really worried about what his numbers are. Hell score some timely goals for us.

When a team like the Bruins has some difficulty developing their own defenseman within the organization, its incumbent upon them to lock up the blueliners they do have. Thats exactly what the Bs have done with Boychuk, who will be running the music in the Bs dressing room for a long time to come.

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Facing a favorable foe in Dickey

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Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Facing a favorable foe in Dickey

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has six players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Travis Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles.

The lineups:

BLUE JAYS:
Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezquiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
---
R.A. Dickey P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
---
David Price P

The price of being the ace

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The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

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Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like I was watching the Heart of a Champion in that Golden State/Oklahoma City game last night. That Klay Thompson is something else.

 

*PHT writer James O’Brien wonders what the next step is for Troy Brouwer now that he’s ready to hit free agency, and the ride has finally come to an for the Blues this season.

 

*Excellent piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Paul Dupont on the sad story of Kevin Stevens, and the drug addiction demons that have had him in their clutches for a long time. I’ve known about Stevens troubles for a while, and it’s too bad because he really is a gregarious guy when you get to know him.

 

*Allan Muir speculates on the future of Steve Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning now that the offseason has begun for both of them.

 

*P.K. Subban doesn’t sound like he’s got any hard feelings about being left off Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey, and said he’ll still be rooting them along.

 

*Pat Hickey mentions the Subban snub, but is incredulous that Habs center Alex Galchenyuk was left off Team North America.

 

*Larry Brooks breaks down how exactly former Bruins head coach and New York Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan was able to emerge from John Tortorella’s shadow some 10 years later.

 

*For something completely different: sad story all around in Cincinnati where they had to had to shoot an endangered gorilla dead when a four year old child fell into his enclosure.