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.