Consistent Boychuk makes most out of first goal

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Consistent Boychuk makes most out of first goal

BOSTON -- Throughout the Bruins' recent three-game losing skid in the midst of their underachieving 3-7 start, coach Claude Julien preached defense.

He preached it, because that is Boston's identity.

Quite simply, the defending-champion Bruins are a defensive team. From there, everything else falls into place.

As it did Tuesday in a slump-busting 5-3 win over Ottawa.

"Well, I thought we were better defensively," said Julien. "And I think it just kind of re-enforces what we've talked about the last few days. Our team's offense feeds off our team's defense."

Just not the way you would think, on Tuesday night.

The Bruins' defense improved, no doubt. But the offense got a lift from defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

Boychuk blasted a slap shot past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson at 6:41 of the third period, giving Boston a 4-3 lead. It came just 1:37 after the Senators' Jared Cowen beat Tim Thomas with a shot from the point, which had tied the game at 3-3.

"We've been coming from behind a lot," said Thomas after the game. "This time was a lead where they tied it up, so it didn't seem to affect us that much. We just needed to respond. And we did fairly quickly."

Boychuk let go a blistering slap shot from the right point, with enough bodies out front to lead the puck past a screened Anderson and into the low-left corner of the net.

"There were a couple there where I just barely missed the net and then finally I got one through, and it hit the net and went in," said Boychuk after the win.

"I was just thinking, 'Hit the net.' Because I kept missing the net before that."

Boychuk was one of three Bruins players to finish the game as a plus-two. The others were fellow defensemen Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference.

As a defensive partner with Chara, Boychuk's play can sometimes be overlooked. But Julien praised him after Tuesday's win, mainly because of his consistency . . . something most of the team has lacked all season.

"I think Johnny's been one of our best defensemen so far, since the beginning of the year," said Julien. "He's consistent. He hasn't had the highs and lows that maybe some others have had, but he's been pretty good for us.

"I know he's a player that, in my eyes anyways, is still growing every year," added Julien. "Although he's only in his third year with us, he's a guy that just keeps going and going. I like his discipline and his way of playing guys hard. But at the same time, he has enough confidence to move the puck well.

"The goal he scored was a typical Johnny Boychuk shot, that you'd like to see even more."

It was Boychuk's first goal of the season, and as he pointed out after the win, it came a whole lot earlier than his first goal came last year.

"Obviously it feels a lot better, getting that first one by you," said Boychuk with a sense of relief. "Now you don't have to worry about it. I think last year it took me until January. So, a little bit better."

And for the Bruins, a team that almost desperately needed to find a way to re-capture a lead in the third period on Tuesday night, Boychuk's first goal of the year couldn't have come at a better time.

"We needed to win," said Thomas. "I don't know if it was a must-win game, because there's time left in the season. But we needed to win. We needed to start somewhere. And we did that tonight."

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
 
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
 
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
 
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
 
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
 
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
 
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.

*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
 
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.