VANCOUVER Johnny Boychuk has certainly struggled a bit in the playoffs, and those defensive lapses have been more pronounced over the last few games.Zdeno Chara made the wrong read on the play that eventually won Game 1 for the Vancouver Canucks, and there was little support from anyone else in the vicinity, but theres no question Boychuks aggressive movement toward Ryan Kesler was the wrong decision at the wrong time.With 18 seconds left in the game Boychuk lunged at Vancouvers playmaking center and lost a puck battle, giving Vancouver an odd-man rush with Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres once Kesler zipped a pass to Hansen. Torres finished the play with the game's only goal, meaning Boychuk has been on the ice for each of Bostons last seven goals allowed, dating back to Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.Boychuk has certainly had his ups and downs in the playoffs, but Wednesday night's last-second mistake was unfortunate given that he otherwise played a solid 20-plus minutes in his first career Stanley Cup Final game.
Boychuk wasnt made available to the media on Thursday afternoon, but coach Claude Julien wasnt going to throw his player under the bus.Julien did, however, admit that the affable Boychuk would probably like to have that final play back, or at least have the chance to alter his decision-making process.
Let's put it this way," said Julien. "At this time of the year I'm not going to come in here and criticize my players. I'm not going to answer that question about Boychuk as far as we're going to deal with it internally. I think what we have to do here is regroup as a team and play better. Right now I'm not going to stand here and start answering questions about people criticizing individuals. I'm going to stay with the team concept. I think if you ask him, he knows he probably could have played that last goal a lot better. We all know that, but we all need to move on right now.Boychuk has six points and is averaging 21 minutes per game in 19 postseason games during this run at a plus-4 rating, but its clear that its time for the defenseman to rein in some parts of his decision-making process.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
Thanks in large part to a big performance by Tuukka Rask, the Bruins were able to squeak out a 2-1 win against the Sabres.
View gallery here.
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday
David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.
Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.
The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.
Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.
The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.
Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.
The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.
NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.
Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.
Sabres: At Washington on Monday.
© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.