Boychuk developing place in Bruins' foundation


Boychuk developing place in Bruins' foundation

Johnny Boychuk had plenty of reasons to be motivated heading into Saturday nights tilt with a revenge-minded Leafs team.

The 27-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent following the season, and has no qualms voicing his desire to remain with a Bruins team that gave him a chance to establish himself as an NHL defenseman.

The whole Stanley Cup thing doesnt exactly hurt either.

A source with knowledge of such things indicated to there have been no negotiations between Boychuks camp and the Bs to date, and it would seem he would be the next natural target for an extension following Krejcis deal.

The static state of negotiations hasnt stopped Boychuk from going out and showing his bosses just how badly he wants to remain in Black and Gold, however. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a solid season as one of Bostons most reliable defensemen not named Chara, and saved one of his best performances for his teams 4-1 victory over Toronto at TD Garden.

Boychuk logged 3:08 of shorthanded ice time for a penalty kill unit that stymied Torontos red-hot power play and kept them 0-for-4 on the night. That little piece of special teams work might have been enough to be considered game-winning on some nights, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Boychuk went above and beyond that by authoring the signature play that essentially plunged the dagger deep into the heart of Torontos comeback hopes in the third period. The quintessential Boychuk shift began with the Bs defenseman obliterating Clark MacArthur in the defensive zone with the kind of clean, teeth-rattling open ice hit hes become known for in his own end.

The fine physical play disrupted Torontos offensive flow as the Bruins did all night long in frustrating the high-flying Leafs in a 2-1 game and Boychuk hustled up ice to join the offensive rush. The puck immediately found him again when Brad Marchand pushed a pass up to him rushing in from the blue line, and Boychuk connected for a screaming slapper past James Reimer for a key insurance goal.

Yeah, it was a pretty good shift. Ill take that any game I guess, said Boychuk. But there were a couple shifts where we had full control for maybe two minutes in Torontos end and those were also highlights too.

You know me, come on. No muffin wrister from me. Ill take a slapshot, You have that much time you take a slapshot.

If Boychuk were a professional wrestler, the two-way third period shift would have essentially been the DDT, Million Dollar Dream and Figure Four Leg Lock all wrapped into one death blow for the unwitting Leafs.

It was part of the third period philosophy Claude Julien preached to his group prior to those final 20 minutes: dont play it safe and keep hammering away at Toronto. Boychuk pushed down on the gas in the third period to Juliens nodding approval.

Thats what were talking about here. Dont sit on the lead, have the confidence to attack and to play the game the way it should be played, said Julien. I can live with mistakes if were doing the things that were supposed to do.

Its a game of mistakestheres going to be somebut Id rather see that playing on our toes than just sitting back and afraid to make the play and end up costing us.

It was a physical night for Boychuk all around. His MacArthur hit was preceded by a textbook hip check on Tyler Bozak during the second period on one of his many penalty kill missions, and set things up for later in the game.

That fit right in Zdeno Chara rag-dolling Phil Kessel throughout the game, and Milan Lucic running around crunching Joffrey Lupul among his team-high four hits.

You dont go looking for hits. When the opportunity arises you take it and try to make a nice hit, a legal hit actually, said Boychuk. Tonight it was just a night that you might be able to line up hard hits especially with guys coming back the way they were tonight. Our forwards, it made it a lot easier on us.

The body checks are part of the package, but Boychuk has developed into much more than a simple, hard-hitting defenseman filling out shifts for the Bs.

He has become Zdeno Charas running partner at the shutdown defenseman position, hes one of three Boston defensemen averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time this season, and he keeps improving offensively with his booming shot and strengthening confidence while jumping into situational plays.

In a league where defensemen sometimes blossom at an older age than other positions, Boychuk appears to be coming into his own at 27 years-old in his third full season. His consistency and contributions to the hockey club have risen noticeably this season, and thats just in time with Boychuk heading down the same pathway of free agent uncertainty that seemed to sidetrack Krejci.

Hes responded well to that situation, but what else was Boychuk motivated by on this particular night?

The blueliner left his North End home Saturday morning promising his wife hed earn No. 1 Star honors in tonights game, and he did exactly that with his big time effort in Bostons 13th win in 14 games.

Looks like Boychuk might have to make that promise to his better half a little more often over the next few months.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wins have been so hard to come by for the Oakland Raiders that it took three tries at the final play for them finally to pull this one out and possibly save their season.

Derek Carr threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the final play after the game was extended by two straight defensive holding calls and the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"We didn't give up," Crabtree said. "We got a team full of fighters. We believe. ... No matter how hard the game was, we believed. We came out with the W and I'm excited. It's a good way to win, a great way to win."

With their season on the line following the recent slump, Carr led an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:25 to give the Raiders (3-4) the thrilling comeback in a game they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

Carr finished 29 for 52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two of the scores. The Raiders had struggled to get the ball downfield while being held to 17 or fewer points in four straight games but Carr repeatedly beat the Chiefs with deep passes.

"No. 4 kept making plays," coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is a special, special win."

Alex Smith threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough for the Chiefs (5-2). They lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 11-18, 2015, and had their 12-game winning streak in the AFC West snapped in a thrilling finish.

"I've never been part of a game that came down so dramatic," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But, still had a chance to win. Period. Just have to make a play. One play. One play."

The Raiders had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 18 seconds left overturned when replay ruled he was down at the 1. An offensive pass interference on Crabtree wiped out another touchdown on the next play.

But holding calls on Ron Parker and Eric Murray set the stage for the final play. Carr hit Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie it at 30. Giorgio Tavecchio won it with the extra point , setting off a celebration on a wild night that included Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch getting ejected in the second quarter for shoving an official.

HOT TEMPERS: The game took an odd turn midway through the second quarter after Kansas City's Marcus Peters hit Carr late, angering the Raiders. Offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn confronted Peters and Lynch sprinted off the Oakland sideline to join the fray. Lynch, a close friend of Peters, ended up shoving line judge Julian Mapp and getting ejected . Peters also was called for a personal foul on the play. Lynch congratulated his teammates in the locker room after the game but didn't speak to reporters.

"I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we'd be in good shape," Del Rio said.

LONG DRIVE: After Marquette King pinned the Chiefs at their own 1 with a perfect punt early in the second quarter, Kansas City needed little time to turn the momentum. Smith hit Demarcus Robinson on a 33-yard pass on the first play of the drive. After a short run, Tyreek Hill beat David Amerson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first 99-yard drive since doing it Dec. 3, 2006, against Cleveland.

DEEP CONNECTION: Carr had not connected on a single deep ball to Amari Cooper all season before the two teamed twice for long TDs in the opening quarter. On the first, Cooper appeared to push Terrance Mitchell but the officials picked up the flag and gave Cooper the 38-yard TD . Later in the quarter Carr and Cooper connected on a 45-yard score, making Cooper the first Raiders receiver with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

KICKING WOES: The Raiders were hurt last week when a bad snap by Jon Condo led to a missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. That was Tavecchio's first missed kick of any kind this season but he then had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 45-yarder wide left in the second quarter. Tavecchio also had a false start on an extra point in the third quarter.


Chiefs: Host Denver on Oct. 30.

Raiders: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs


NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."


Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.


Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.