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Catching Up with Boychuk

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

The Islanders defenseman would rather go top shelf than build one.

Last fall, Johnny Boychuk got a new address. This summer, he’s got a new house.

Boychuk, acquired by the Islanders from Boston just prior to the season-opener, moved into a new crib with his wife and two daughters this summer back in his native Edmonton. Boychuk has the tools of a top NHL defenseman – a big shot, big body and physical edge – but when it comes to tools around the house, Boychuk prefers to leave it to the professionals.

“I’m more of a Swiffer Sweeper kind of guy,” Boychuk joked. “I wouldn’t say I’m not good at carpentry and all that stuff but I would rather let somebody that does it all the time do it. I tried to hang a couple shelves I’d say a year ago and it didn’t work out so well.”

Maybe there will be some IKEA projects in the future, but when choosing between an Allen key and a CCM stick, Boychuk is taking the latter. For an NHL player, going top shelf is a lot more satisfying than building one.

The blueliner stayed in New York for the early part of the summer, getting to know the area after committing to the Islanders with a seven-year contract extension in March. After returning home to Edmonton, Boychuk resumed a training program focused on strength and conditioning. The 31-year-old, who has played at least 72 games in each of the last three full seasons and set career highs in goals (9) and points (35) last season, sees his routine as a safeguard against injuries.

“Every year I come home and I’ll take 10-to-14 days off,” Boychuk said. “I always do a light training session for the first week then after that I start doing our strength and conditioning phases. Right now we’re probably getting into the heaviest strength phase coming up, then I do power skating in August for about a week.”

Boychuk’s training is nearing its peak. He’s skating twice a week, but soon will be up to four or five sessions per week. The summer training ends with a pro camp in Edmonton before Boychuk packs up and heads east. There’s extra incentive to finish the summer strong, as Boychuk may have a challenger for the hardest shot on the team next season. Ryan Pulock, who is expected to be in the mix at training camp, hit 105 mph at the Islanders Blue & White Scrimmage in July, meaning Boychuk’s new goal is 106 – if he’s not hitting that already.

Boychuk said he’s looking forward to starting the season in Brooklyn and making amends for last spring’s premature playoff exit. A Stanley Cup champion with the Bruins in 2011, Boychuk thinks the Islanders have what it takes to advance beyond the first round and he’s happy the team is returning the core group.

“It’s kind of nice to keep the same core group still together and achieve the ultimate goal,” Boychuk said. “When you have players that play with each other for a long time it’s easy to start the season and not have to build chemistry from scratch. The facilities are going to be different, but that’s basically the only thing that’s going be different about our team. But I know it’s going to be exciting to be in Barclays Center.”

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