WASHINGTON If there was a silver-lining to Bostons loss to the Capitals in Game 4, it was the play of Johnny Boychuk.
The Bs defenseman has looked slowed and tentative at times during the series while working his way back from a sprained knee suffered at the end of the regular season, but the real No. 55 stepped up against the Caps. Boychuk played 19:17 of ice time and registered a couple of thumping trademark hits while also blocking a Brooks Laich shot in the third period that appeared destined for an open net.
It wasnt enough in the 2-1 loss, but it qualified as a positive for a Bruins team looking for them amid a frustrated dressing room.
It was the kind of game that Boychuk has been searching for since the postseason started, and the kind of difference-making effort hes become known for in the playoffs since he acted as a human wrecking ball against the Buffalo Sabres two years ago.
But hed much rather it come in a win.
We had 40 plus shots again and weve got to find a way to get something past Holtby. We had a lot of loose pucks around the net and we need to find a way to get to those zones to put it home, said Boychuk.
Boychuk admitted after the game that hes started feeling that freedom and ease midway through Game 3, and freely said he didnt feel like himself in the first couple of games. He was a beat too slow reacting to things happening on the ice, and thats a playoff hockey death sentence for a defenseman thats always had to play close attention to his skating.Case in point: the penalty Boychuk was able to draw on Mike Knuble in the third period on an aggressive pinch is something he hadnt been doing in the first three games.
Things are starting to feel a lot better. Hopefully next game Ill feel even that much better, said Boychuk. Its new getting used to a knee brace and feeling my way through it.Its starting to come together for Boychuk at the exact right time with the Bruins facing a best of three series against the Washington Capitals for playoff advancement, and Boston could use as many hands on deck as possible.