- The battle-laden Johnny Boychuk
was back in the Bruins lineup on Saturday against the Flyers, after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
At a March 22 practice in Ottawa, Boychuk had taken a puck off the skate, and missed the ensuing week of games.
Though he did not log his usual above-20 minutes in his first game back since the injury, obviously to ease him into the lineup after the three-game layoff, No. 55 took 24 shifts (just two off his average of 26 per game) for 16:30 on the ice, including 45 seconds of time on the penalty kill.
The blueliner may not have felt physically up to par after the injury, having only been skating since Wednesday, but his usual warrior-like mindset was there, blocking four of the B's 13 total blocked shots. He's blocked 65 on the season.
"Not too bad, pretty good actually," said Boychuk on how he felt on the ice. "I think the first shot I blocked right on the spot, it was a little bit of pain, but not too much. It's a good feeling when you can do that."
"There's always some plays you wish you could get back," Boychuk also said, in reference to being back in the lineup. "But overall, I felt pretty good."
Boychuk ended up out on the ice for both the Flyers' power-play goal and the partial 2-on-1 that beat Tuukka Rask, but the man-advantage goal came from Philly's league-leading PP. And No. 55, as honest as ever, wished he would have made a different decision on Matt Read's goal that put the B's down 2-0 at 3:18 into the second period.
Jakub Voracek stickhandled along the right-wing boards after receiving the puck at the blueline, and thread a simple cross-ice pass to Read, who looked look he might wind up for the one-timer, but ended up wristing the puck into the back of the net.
"I don't really know," said Boychuk, when asked if his stick got a piece of the puck on Read's goal. "I think I should have probably kept my stick on the puck, I thought he might have been one-timing it, so I went down to block it, but he stopped it and shot it, but I should've put the stick on the puck."
Boychuk's reaction after said it all, as he had gone down on one knee to block the one-timer, and stayed down in that position for a few moments after the goal, knowing Read has possibly given him a miscue with the wrister.
Teams Accustomed to Stepping Up with Injuries - Flyers No Different
While the Bruins' back end has seen injuries to McQuaid and recently, Boychuk himself, the Flyers' blueline has taken a hit, and is now without Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn and Niklas Grossman.
"Well, they've still got a good team, don't get me wrong. They have very skilled forwards and we always have to be aware of that. Their D did a pretty good job of clearing traffic for their goalie," said Boychuk, on the Flyers still being a tough opponent, even without some key defensemen.
And as the Bruins have seen with their own club at times, injuries allow the opportunity for the team to step up.
"They played hard. There's always room that if somebody goes down, you have to step up and fill that role," said Boychuk. "And that's what they did."
For Johnny and the B's, they have a chance to quickly put this loss behind them with the second game of the back-to-back in Buffalo on Sunday, as they work to get back to the Bruins' style of hockey they've established over the years.
The Black & Gold will be looking internally, however, and not so much on what's happening in the Sabres' dressing room, or around the NHL.
"I know it's easy to say let's bring in another guy and all of a sudden he becomes a savior, but no," Coach said, when asked if his team needed an outside park. "We had a good record at the beginning of the year, maybe you look more at the injuries, maybe we miss some of those guys more than others. Kelly's a pretty important part of our team, stability, you look at McQuaid and Johnny who was back for the first game, though he struggled tonight."
"There's a lot of things, I think if we're looking for help, like I said, we're looking in the wrong direction. We need to look at ourselves. As a team right now, we're not playing well."
Boychuk pointed to a few simple adjustments the B's could make in both their play and their mindset heading into Sunday's game against Buffalo.
"Just getting more traffic in front of the net and burying chances when we do have the puck," he said.
"We get to play tomorrow, so that's a good part. We're usually good at putting things behind us, but we have to learn from what we did here tonight and the last couple games. We have to bear down on our chances."