MONTREAL, QC - For the fourth time this season, the Bruins had to play with a defenseman down.
Johnny Boychuk left the game 4:28 into the first period on Thursday night at the Bell Centre, with the Bruins taking on the Canadiens.
Boston was defeated, 2-1, by the Habs, but that wasn't the biggest loss of the night.
After a collision into the boards behind the Montreal goal following a hit by Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was slow to get his bearings.
It wasn't so much the hit, on which Pacioretty was assessed a minor penalty for boarding, as it was the way Boychuk went awkwardly into the boards.
Hunched over on both knees, the defenseman was first tended to by Bruins Head Athletic Trainer Don DelNegro. Bruins trainer Derek Repucci, along with Montreal's trainers and EMT, soon went over.
After about 10 minutes on the ice, surrounded by Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla (as well as Carey Price showing his respect), a conscious Boychuk was wheeled off on a stretcher, to a cheer of support from the crowd.
"Johnny Boychuk has been taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, after being injured in Thursday's game against the Canadiens," Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement released by the team during the first intermission.
"Before he was transported to the hospital, he was able to demonstrate movement in all of his extremities."
Following the game, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said that Boychuk had been cleared to fly back with the team to Boston.
"He's obviously still injured but we don't know the severity of it and I don't know all the details from it," said Julien, who generally does not like to try and guess at injuries, with Boychuk getting looked at back in Boston on Friday by the team doctors. That will give a better indication.
"But obviously it was an injury serious enough to bring him to the hospital and definitely I think he's going to be a little while here before he's good to go."
"So I don't know exactly how much time and all that stuff but the good news is he's coming back with us tonight and then he'll be reassessed by our doctors back in Boston."
"But they did a great job and took good care of him and saw the specialist and everything else and cleared him to fly back with us so we'll see how he is."
Julien also stressed his take on the cause of the injury.
"I think it was probably the way he went into the boards that did most of the damage; I don't think it was from the severity of the hit," he said.
We all know Boychuk as a tough-as-nails defenseman, who will battle through most injuries.
Seeing the trouble he was having on the ice was no doubt, concerning.
"It's a scary sight for sure because he's a very tough guy and if there's any way he can get off and get up at that point you know he would," said Jarome Iginla, who was on the ice near Boychuk. "So it's very tough to see that."
"We're all hoping he's going to be okay, but at that moment you can't really do much; you're just hoping that he's going to be okay," said Zdeno Chara, who was standing near No. 55, as he got his bearings. It's never an easy sight.
In Boychuk's absence, once again, the Bruins' defense corps took on the workload.
Zdeno Chara racked up 29:50 in ice time, followed by Dennis Seidenberg with 25:15.
Hamilton put in just over 23 minutes. Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug both skated close to 20 minutes.
The Bruins are also currently without Adam McQuaid, out day-to-day after re-aggravating his lower-body injury.
And once again, the Bruins' depth that has already proven itself, will be relied upon.
"That's a big strength of our organization, for sure, is the amount of depth and the guys who can step into the lineup but also guys that are already in the lineup who can handle more minutes," said Iginla. " We have a lot of young guys who are very good, very poised and whether Kruger or Dougie Hamilton have to play a lot more tonight or Bart, they can handle that. Millsy [Kevan Miller] has come up and played for us."
"Hopefully Johnny isn't out too long or it's too bad, but it is definitely something that - just being here a short few months - being able to see all the depth... it's definitely a big strength."
^CS note: Best wishes to JB55 as he works his way back to health. Great to see he's okay, and as always, I'll keep you updated on his progress as Coach and the team provide information.