Johnny Boychuk is a proudNortheast Edmonton boy, and always looks forward to games against his hometown Edmonton Oilers.
It makes sense since Boychuk is just old enough to remember the glory days of Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers dynasty while growing up with older brothers in a bona fide Canadian hockey hotbed. In fact the 27-year-old probably most vividly remembers the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals victory for the Oil over the Bruins as six year-old just starting to collect a lifetime of hockey memories. He sees plenty of similarities between Edmonton then and Boston now as the two teams clash at TD Garden on Thursday night.
"It reminds me a lot of New England now with all of the championships going around except it was just hockey in Edmonton growing up, said Boychuk. Theres always a little extra when youre playing the team you grew up watching. I always dreamed of playing for or against the Oilers growing up, and now Ive been able to do it a couple of times.
I remember the last time we played them it was an afternoon game after we had played Vancouver, so it was a little more rushed than this one. So Ill be sure to enjoy it, but I enjoy every game that we play.
In that game in Edmonton last season Boychuk had three shots on net in 22:20 of ice time, but wasnt able to get on the scoresheet in a 3-2 win for the Bs.
Funny enough, Boychuk said he didnt grow up pretending to be The Great One or Mark Messier, though, and he always knew he wanted to be a defenseman from the time he was a young shaver. Little Boychuk dreamed of being Al McInnis or Ray Bourque while growing up on the frozen ponds of Edmonton, but still appreciates how much history the Oil bring with them to Boston.
Boychuk has three points and a plus-4 in his 13 games for the Bruins in 20:04 of ice time this season, and is off to the best start of his career in Boston entering an important free agent year. So theres also a chance for Boychuk to build on the consistent, solid start hes had with the Black and Gold this year, and show some of the steady improvement that Claude Julien has seen throughout Boychuk's three seasons in Boston.
I know Johnny Boychuk has been here for three years, but we sometimes forget hes only just 26 years old and still getting better each and every year, Julien said. Johnny has been one of our best defensemen so far this season, and hes starting to get more consistent night in and night out.
Boychuk gets another chance to add to that newfound consistency and maybe even collect a point or two for the legions of Boychuk family members that will be tuning in to see what happens when Johnny Boy takes on the Oil for the second time in his young NHL career.