BOSTON - The Bruins were already exhausted while playing the second half of a back-to-back after an emotional night on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Still, the task got a little more difficult when B’s defenseman Johnny Boychuk went down in the opening minutes of the second period after falling awkwardly into the boards behind the Boston net.
The tough-as-nails Boychuk didn’t return, and that left five Bruins defensemen to grind it out through the shootout before prevailing with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. After the game, coach Claude Julien didn’t have much of an update about Boychuk beyond the obvious.
“He got hurt when he crashed into the boards. I think everybody saw that. He wasn’t able to come back [in the game], and from what my trainers have told me, we’ll know more [Friday] morning,” said Julien. “They always have to let those things settle down a little bit before we get more [information.]”
What Julien could tell everyone was that the other B’s defensemen deserved credit for yeoman’s work the rest of the way. Zdeno Chara logged a season-high 29:45 of ice time while also potting the tying power-play goal late in the third period, and both Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton also topped 25 minutes of ice time in the shootout win.
“It’s gutsy...I don’t know how many people realize how tough that game was in Pittsburgh yesterday," Julien said. "You’re playing a team that had revenge on their mind and it wasn’t an easy game. You come back and you play a team that’s fresh, and then you’re cut down to five D because you don’t have a choice. It was hard. Although we all look for perfection from the outside, you also have to be realistic.
“I think our defensemen did a great job of battling through and some of those guys are basically first year players, when you look at Krug and even Dougie Hamilton," Julien said. [There’s] not a ton of experience. We had to gut it out and we did.”
One would expect that spare defenseman Matt Bartkowski will likely draw into the lineup Saturday night against the New York Islanders with Boychuk now battling something serious enough to knock him out for more than half a hockey game.