A return to form for Johnny Boychuk

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A return to form for Johnny Boychuk

WASHINGTON If there was a silver-lining to Bostons loss to the Capitals in Game 4, it was the play of Johnny Boychuk.

The Bs defenseman has looked slowed and tentative at times during the series while working his way back from a sprained knee suffered at the end of the regular season, but the real No. 55 stepped up against the Caps. Boychuk played 19:17 of ice time and registered a couple of thumping trademark hits while also blocking a Brooks Laich shot in the third period that appeared destined for an open net.

It wasnt enough in the 2-1 loss, but it qualified as a positive for a Bruins team looking for them amid a frustrated dressing room.

It was the kind of game that Boychuk has been searching for since the postseason started, and the kind of difference-making effort hes become known for in the playoffs since he acted as a human wrecking ball against the Buffalo Sabres two years ago.

But hed much rather it come in a win.

We had 40 plus shots again and weve got to find a way to get something past Holtby. We had a lot of loose pucks around the net and we need to find a way to get to those zones to put it home, said Boychuk.

Boychuk admitted after the game that hes started feeling that freedom and ease midway through Game 3, and freely said he didnt feel like himself in the first couple of games. He was a beat too slow reacting to things happening on the ice, and thats a playoff hockey death sentence for a defenseman thats always had to play close attention to his skating.Case in point: the penalty Boychuk was able to draw on Mike Knuble in the third period on an aggressive pinch is something he hadnt been doing in the first three games.

Things are starting to feel a lot better. Hopefully next game Ill feel even that much better, said Boychuk. Its new getting used to a knee brace and feeling my way through it.Its starting to come together for Boychuk at the exact right time with the Bruins facing a best of three series against the Washington Capitals for playoff advancement, and Boston could use as many hands on deck as possible.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!