Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

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Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

BOSTON -- If the Bruins needed any more convincing that they should leave their core players home on Thursday when they play their final regular-season road game in Ottawa, the sight of Johnny Boychuk going down with an apparent leg injury during garbage time Tuesday night should do it.
Boychuks left knee buckled as he moved in for a big hit on Pittsburgh tough guy Arron Asham during the third period of Bostons 5-3 loss to the Penguins at TD Garden, and the rugged, big-hitting defenseman needed to be helped off the ice. Video replays showed Boychuks left knee bent inward during awkward contact with Asham.
With only two games left on the schedule and the playoffs looming little more than a week away, it was a reminder of how fleeting good health can be.
It didnt make sense that Boychuk should have been out of the lineup against the Penguins, given that he'd missed several games last month and needed the work, so there was probably no way to avoid the injury. Nothing has been diagnosed, of course, and perhaps its something minor that will only cause the defenseman to miss a couple of games. But the worst-case scenario is that Boychuk, one of the Bruins' top four defensemen, misses a healthy chunk of the playoffs, and that would push Joe Corvo back into a meaningful role.
Coach Claude Julien wasnt going there when asked if there was any way to rest his key skaters as the season winds down.
You dont have a choice," said Julien. "Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were in the Penguins' lineup Tuesday. From their end of it, Kris Letangs in and hes had his fair share of injuries. Youve got to play. This is our job, weve got to do our job.
Theres no doubt you want to minimize ice time, youd like to keep guys out, and everything else, but you cant keep them all out. Its something that happens. Youre going to try and avoid it, and you do the best you can, but there are no hundred-percenters anymore.
But its the time of year when the Bruins are attempting to find ways to rest some of their key players. That should be a message sky-written across Bruins Nation with even more urgency know after watching one of their key playoff performers get injured.
Its always tough when you see a guy laying on the ice like that and hes not getting up, or even moving out of the position, said Milan Lucic. You know, three games left, now two, you dont want to see anyone get hurt, especially not a guy like Boychuk who plays a big role on this team.
Hopefully hes going to get through whatever injury he has. Hes one of the tougher guys that I know, so hes going to do whatever he can to make sure that he is right.
So the Bruins are expected to leave some of their biggest names Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back in Boston when they face the Senators in an expected preview of the first round of the playoffs. Theres no reason for franchise cornerstone players to needlessly jump into message game against a Senators team that seems to be the one with something to prove and watching one player get hurt in a meaningless early April loss to the Penguins should certainly hammer that point home.
The Bruins were extremely fortunate to avoid any catastrophic injuries last season, at least until the Stanley Cup Finals when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion That good health was a big part of the Bruins capturing the Cup last season, as they won three Game 7s over 25 playoff games through parts of three months.
While its not yet known how serious the Boychuk injury actually is, it sent a signal through the Bs organization that they might not be as fortunate this time around. Thats why Julien and Co. need to do everything possible to keep the team healthy heading into the playoffs, which are set to begin April 12.