BOSTON – It wasn’t the first game the Bruins played without Dennis Seidenberg, but it might have been one of the first games when you could see a solution beginning to form for the undermanned team.
Claude Julien singled out the right side of his defenseman group after the 3-2 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at TD Garden, and that’s exactly where the B’s must get increased production without No. 44. Johnny Boychuk stepped up to score a big goal in the third period that got the Bruins on the board with a wicked wrist shot from the slot, and finished with five thunderous hits and four blocked shots in an active 23:14 of ice time.
It was Boychuk’s second goal of the season, and his first since way back in the middle of November. As far Boychuk bone-rattling body checks, simply check with Nashville forward Craig Smith to see if he’s figured out which Bruins skater lowered the boom on him in the opening shifts of the third period.
The whole key to a solid, winning effort in Boychuk’s mind was not trying to do too much despite the desire to be a bigger factor with one of their mainstays lost for the season.
“That’s when you get into trouble,” said Boychuk. “The best thing I could do was just go out and try to do the things that I do well. Once you try to start doing a little more then you start trying to do more than you should.”
Dougie Hamilton also matched up with Zdeno Chara on the B’s top pairing, and assisted Brad Marchand’s overtime game-winner with a quick entry pass out of the defensive zone. The fact the 20-year-old did it without much rust after missing the previous 10 games with a lower body injury was impressive. Hamilton hasn’t missed much time over the years due to injury, but looked crisp in his 17:56 of ice time.
“I thought [Boychuk] played a good game. Our right side I thought was pretty good on defense tonight, and he was good jumping in that play,” said Julien. “And I really liked Dougie Hamilton’s game – for a guy who has been out for a while I thought he played extremely well, so that was nice to see.
“But Johnny [Boychuk] played a good game tonight, and that’s coming off probably a tough effort the other night from our D’s [defensemen] against the Islanders. I thought they were much better tonight.”
Boychuk and Hamilton will need to continue playing at a consistently high level if the Bruins hope to keep putting wins together, but the Nashville game was a pretty effective reminder that they’re entirely capable of doing it.