By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk has a message for everybody out there in the NHL:
Watch your back, because Johnny Boy is coming.
Boychuk had what even he would term an uneven rookie season patrolling the blueline for the Bruins last year, a season filled with both promising flashes and frustrating mistakes. There were good moments, and there were some defensive gambles that led to pucks in the back of his net. But Boychuk has ideal size, impressive durability and a howitzer shot from the point and knows how to use all of them to be effective as a hard-hitting, offensively capable defenseman.
Boychuk finished averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game in his 69 appearances last year and totaled 16 points, but the defenseman managed only three goals on an amazing 154 shots attempted last year. Thats scoring on only 1.9 percent of his shots, and a string of games without goals until the middle of January.
Some of it was bad luck and some of it was good goaltending on the other side, but Boychuk knows several things need to change as he moves forward in an NHL career thats just started.
The 27-year-old defenseman needs to consistently throw his body around with the same physicality that emerges during big games, he needs to find a way to snake more of his sizzling point shots through to the net and he simply needs to be more consistent on a nightly basis.
Theyre all things that can realistically achieved, and its all started with a welcome return to Boston and his regular hockey routine after a summer full of parties and Cup celebrations. The summer also included Boychuk getting married to his longtime girlfriend in Edmonton during a three-month span that whipped by pretty quickly.
It was nice to actually get back into the swing of things and actually getting to play the body a little bit . . . but not too much out there, said Boychuk. Its nice to just get back on the flow of things and be around the guys again.
Now that camp is underway, however, its all work for Boychuk among a crowded group of defensemen. Joe Corvo was brought in to replace the departed Tomas Kaberle and Steve Kampfer is fighting for playing time at the NHL level, and Boychuk knows he needs to be better if he wants to retain his place within the Bs defenseman corps.
I think I just want to play more consistent. I want to be more physical and make sure that my shots get through at least 80 percent of the time, said Boychuk. Those are my goals and if I can achieve them then that means Ill do better for points.
I know itll help the team win if Im more physical and can get my shots through.
Entering the final year of his contract with a strong desire to remain in a city of Boston that he loves, Boychuk knows he needs to put his best foot forward with a hockey club thats getting bigger, badder and better every single year.
Its Boychuks aim to get bigger, badder and better right along with them.