CHICAGO Johnny Boychuk has always prided himself on being a big game player, and he brought his entire arsenal to the table in an early season must-have game against the Blackhawks in their anthem-cheering barn.
So it probably shouldnt be much of a surprise that Boychuk manned up against the Blackhawks, and put on an active, physical, offensive effective delivery of his defenseman skills in the Bs 3-2 shootout victory Saturday night at the United Center. Boychuk doled out a team-high six hits of punishment including a standup job on Jonathan Toews in the second period that sent the message.
We knew that we needed at least a split on the road trip . . . It wasnt the greatest first period in the world, but we battled back to make sure we got the win, said Boychuk. I thought our game went exactly the way we wanted it to after the first period. We didnt do anything fancy. Just made the simple plays and made sure to get the puck in deep and onto the net.
Even better: Boychuk set up Nathan Hortons game-tying goal in the third period that pushed overtime and the shootout, and found a way to blend all his hockey potential into 21:48 of vintage performance.
It was Boychuks best game of the season and a perfect time for each member of the defense corps to step up their game with the transitional skill and dangerous scorers that Chicago was throwing at them.
He had a great game tonight. Johnny was a really good player for us, said coach Claude Julien. It was fitting that he set up that tying goal because he was one of many that we really felt like picked up his game tonight.
Most interesting of all was that Boychuks game didnt shoot up to optimum levels until he thought hed broken his right arm following a hit in the corner of the defensive zone by Daniel Carcillo.
Boychuks arm was pinned against the boards and Carcillo crashed right into with excruciating force, and then the defenseman had his right arm caught with a Duncan Keith slap shot from the right point. He skated off the ice in the first period following the shift whole holding his right arm precariously, but came right back like a man possessed for the rest of the game.
His active stick and skates were poking pucks away and breaking up passes through the evening, Boychuk kept his feet moving and then finally made the play that helped win the game midway through the third. The Bs defenseman was simply going to dump the puck in the offensive zone, but then saw that he had the corner on his Chicago defender and simply carried through behind the Chicago net.
I just wanted to get it in deep, but once I knew I had him beat I just wanted to get the puck, said Boychuk. I saw Horton and went around the net to get the puck to him he knew where to put it.
One wouldnt be blamed if they thought Boychuk was a power forward winger simply driving toward the net, and working perfectly in tandem with Tyler Seguin and Horton on the play.
He played really well tonight. I thought Boychuk was my winger for a second there when I saw going on with the puck, said Seguin. I thought it was Horton, but obviously Horton ended up shooting the puck.
Boychuk find Horton waiting all alone in front and fed him a perfect pass from behind the net for a one-time wrist shot that tied the game at 2-2 and effectively earned Boston at least one needed point amid swirling chatter of Stanley Cup hangovers and crippling starts to the season.
Kudos clearly should go to big money players like Tim Thomas, Seguin, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg for similarly upping their games in a time of need, but it was Boychuk really helped set the tone for a must win over the Blackhawks only five games into the season.
Its time for Boychuk to bottle that kind of effort and save it because the Bruins will need much more of it before the year is over.