A stay-at-home defenseman
Boychuk familiar with surroundings
EDMONTON, Alberta — The way Johnny Boychuk gives the directions, he grew up right down the street from Rexall Place, a drive that might not take 10 minutes.
So naturally, last night was a big deal for the Edmonton native and the 100-plus guests he was expecting. It was the first time Boychuk had played an NHL game in his hometown rink. He recorded three shots in 22:20 of ice time in the Bruins’ 3-2 win.
“It’s just nice to be able to play in front of family and friends,’’ Boychuk said before the game. “Then be able to see them after the game.’’
Boychuk, born in 1984, missed the Oilers’ glory years. That didn’t stop Boychuk, like the rest of the people in this area, from following the only show in town.
“They’re close to last place and they’re sold out every game,’’ Boychuk said. “That just shows what kind of fan support they have. Even when they’re doing bad, they know they’re going to have a sold-out crowd no matter what and there’s going to be a lot of fans behind them every game. It’s great to see, especially when they’re not doing as good as they want to be doing. They still have the fan support.’’
As meaningful as last night’s game was for Boychuk, it wasn’t always a guarantee he’d be on the ice instead of in the press box. The second-year NHLer hasn’t been as consistent as he was as a rookie. Boychuk’s timing and decision-making with the puck were a tick off. His shot, perhaps his most dangerous weapon, wasn’t getting through blockers or landing on net with enough consistency.
On Feb. 15 against Toronto, Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. After appearing in the following game against the Islanders, Boychuk was scratched again, this time to make room for Tomas Kaberle in Boston’s 4-2 win over Ottawa.
Boychuk has dressed for the last three games. In Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Vancouver, Boychuk landed four shots on Roberto Luongo. Boychuk, paired with Zdeno Chara, helped keep the No. 1 line of Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin off the scoreboard.
“The first [healthy scratch] fired me up,’’ said Boychuk. “The second one really sent a message to me. I probably deserved it. I’ll try not to take anything for granted anymore, that’s for sure. It was a big motivational thing for me.’’
Ference sidelined Andrew Ference didn’t play last night because of a lower-body injury, suffered late in Saturday’s first period when he was thumped into the end boards by Victor Oreskovich.
General manager Peter Chiarelli termed Ference’s absence as short-term. Last night marked the fourth game Ference has missed this season.
With Ference out, Steven Kampfer was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two straight games.
“It’s always rough watching the game,’’ Kampfer said. “You want to play in every one. You sit back and you start realizing what you can do better. The little things you weren’t doing so well. I’m excited to get back in. Excited to work my way back into the lineup here and make sure I can stay.’’
Kampfer, paired with Dennis Seidenberg, landed two shots and blocked three in 13:55 of ice time.
Deadline looms Tomorrow, the first day following the trade deadline, the Bruins could be facing an Ottawa club that has undergone final changes to its on-the-fly makeover. GM Bryan Murray already has gutted a roster that, only five years ago, squared off against Anaheim in the Cup finals.
Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher, Alex Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu, and Brian Elliott already have been shown the door. Chris Phillips could be next, which would leave only Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Chris Neil from the 2006-07 Cup finals club.
“I wish there was just one thing we could address that we could have changed,’’ said Kelly, a career Senator before the trade to the Bruins. “It seemed that our consistency, game in and game out, just wasn’t there. The league’s so good now that if you’re not playing good hockey on a consistent basis, you’re going to lose more games than you’re winning. We got into that funk there that it seemed like whatever we did, we were behind the eight-ball every night and on the wrong side of games.’’
Nothing to show Last night marked the first NHL meeting of the top two selections in last June’s draft, top pick Taylor Hall of the Oilers and Tyler Seguin of the Bruins.
Neither registered a point. Hall played 19:52 and landed one shot on goal, finishing minus-2, while Seguin was a minus-1, playing 9:32 and recording two shots on net.
McGrattan to Ducks The Bruins traded tough guy Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman to Anaheim yesterday for David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput, who will report to Providence.
The Bruins invited McGrattan to training camp on a tryout basis, then signed him to a one-year contract, thinking they might need extra muscle to start the season. But when McGrattan’s punching services weren’t required, the enforcer was sent to Providence, where he had four goals and one assist and 97 penalty minutes in 39 games.
Laliberte is a 6-foot-1-inch, 198-pound forward, selected by Philadelphia in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. He has appeared in 11 NHL games, with two goals and one assist. Chaput, drafted by Carolina in the fifth round in 2006, has yet to play in an NHL game.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.