Boston, MA --
A true bright spot in an admittedly uneven performance by the local club, defenseman Johnny Boychuk
saw 20 shifts and 17:05 of icetime in his 2009-10 Boston Bruins debut and handed out four impressive hits to his former club the Colorado Avalanche during Monday’s matinee at the TD Garden.
Unfortunately, the B’s finished their five game season opening homestand below the .500 mark at 2-3-0 as they fell to the Avs, 4-3.
Despite what seemed to look like a high comfort level throughout the contest, Boychuk said his first shift of the night, and his first ever regular season appearance in front of the Garden faithful, was a little nerve wracking in the early going.
“I just tried to keep it short and get the first one out of the way because you may get nervous if you haven’t played in awhile,” he said to the gathered press, postgame. “Once that was done I felt totally comfortable out there.”
With his skates under him, and a few hits to boost his confidence, Boychuk looked for any chance he could to get up in the offensive zone and looked for a chance to unleash the slapshot – a shot that teammate goaltender Tuukka Rask
, who played with John in Providence last season, has put in nearly the same category as Zdeno Chara
’s hard and fast blasts.
“If there is a chance to get up there I will get up there,” said the defenseman who was credited with one shot on goal and three blocked attempts. “There was only one time that I could really wind up to take a slapper.
“I saw Rex [Mark Recchi] trying to get it to the net and there were two guys beside him,” continued the defenseman. “It hit the guy’s stick and went outside the net, but he was wide open in front of the net.”
The defenseman indicated that he and his teammates just have to keep shooting.
“On a good day, maybe some of those go in,” said Boychuk. “[Monday] we just didn’t have those tips or shots that go in.”
Boychuk finished the game tying David Krejci
for highest plus/minus with a +2 rating and was all over the NESN highlights thanks to a back-to-back mid ice collision with two Avalanche players, both of whom ended up on their behinds after getting too near the 6’2, 225-pound blueliner.
“I tried to do as much as possible,” he said. “And when I had a chance to hit somebody, I tried to make sure that he didn’t want to come back into my corner.
“I just wanted to make [that] statement.”
Prior to the contest, Boychuk, who was originally drafted by the Avalanche in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and was traded to Boston for Matt Hendricks on June 24, 2008 had stated that he simply hoped to fit into the Bruins overall scheme.
“I’m just going to go in and try to play simple hockey,” he said, before he added, “It’s [my] first game of the season, so I just want to do my job.”
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who was not very pleased with his team’s overall performance, was happy with the defenseman’s job performance on his first day.
“I thought he gave us some good size,” he said. “He battled well.
“For his first game, I was pleased with it.”