Boychuck still finding his high water mark

191545.jpg

Boychuck still finding his high water mark

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

Johnny Boychuk made a name for himself paired with Zdeno Chara two years ago during the playoffs, and now No. 55 finds himself back with the Bruins captain to start this season. Boychuk has an assist and a plus-1 in a pair of regular season games while averaging 18:31 of ice time in a pairing with Chara, and Claude Julien said it was a concerted plan to let the Bs defenseman play the stopper role.

While it may be Chara and Dennis Seidenberg together when it gets to the playoffs, Boychuk is still learning and gathering confidence after two full seasons in the NHL. The defenseman was exposed a little bit during last years playoffs against the speedy Tampa Bay Lightning, but this season Boychuk was much more effective bottling up the Bolts forwards.

There were points in the third period where Boychuk was on the ice along with the Bs fourth line against Steve Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, and held the Lightning players down after earning the confidence from the Bruins coaching staff. Thats the kind of trust that can propel people forward during a young season.

Late in the game Saturday night I put Gregory Campbells line out there against Steve Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, said Julien. I put them out there and told them it was an opportunity to do the job.

Even on the back-check I saw them go hard. We have a lot of guys that are willing to take those responsibilities some times. Boychuk played that shutdown game with Zee during the playoffs a couple of years ago, and this time of year an opportunity to allow players to gain some confidence in those roles. That will carry itself through the year. Thats what players want. They want the challenge and its an opportunity for us to give it to them.

It all comes down to depth, and the Bruins have plenty of it with a group of defensemen headlined by Chara and Seidenberg but supported by established NHL blueliners like Joe Corvo and Andrew Ference. Its easy to forget that Boychuk and Adam McQuaid are both still learning their craft at the highest levels of hockey and finding out what their NHL ceiling is.

On the back end, and I think we've got some depth, we've got some guys that, a lot of guys back there that we are trusting more and more over the years and some guys getting more experience, said Julien. Adam McQuaid is one of those guys and hopefully he's good to go tonight. Johnny Boychuk is now entering his third full season.

Everybody's kind of getting more experience, so we feel that our depth is greater. Even if a lot of those faces are the same faces, they're better players now.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

cp_morning_skate-.jpg

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.