Bruins call up defensemen Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow to fill Zdeno Chara's void

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
8:29
PM ET
BOSTON -- In no way is it an ideal situation, but Boston Bruins defensemen Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow plan to make the most of their time with the team anyway.

Following the news that captain Zdeno Chara will miss four to six weeks with a ligament tear in his left knee, the Bruins called up Trotman and Morrow from Providence on an emergency basis Friday morning. The two joined the team for their morning skate at the TD Garden, taking reps with the remaining defensive core.

[+] EnlargeZach Trotman
Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesZach Trotman has played in just two NHL regular-season games, but he has the chance to seize an opportunity with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara sidelined.
"Obviously you never want to hear about a guy getting hurt, especially someone like Z -- someone you look up to and everything," Trotman said. "My first thought was it's terrible but I didn't really think too much into being called up or anything. Just preparing as usual for the game tonight in Providence. Obviously when I got the call I was excited to come up, but it's sad to hear about Z.

Morrow struck a similar note.

"We were both playing well and both kind of saw an opportunity coming when somebody gets hurt," Morrow said. "You never want to see anyone go down like that. It's not like you're sitting at home waiting for somebody to get hurt or anything. But things like that happen, it's a rough sport and I hope he gets a quick recovery. I'm happy to be here as well."

For Morrow, taking the ice for the Bruins would be his NHL debut. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2011 NHL entry draft, Morrow was traded to the Bruins from the Dallas Stars last season as part of the Tyler Seguin deal. Meanwhile, Trotman is a homegrown product, selected by the Bruins in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. He appeared in two games with the team last season.

During Friday morning's skate, the two primarily rotated shifts alongside Matt Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg. While head coach Claude Julien is unlikely to tip his hand as to what his defensive pairings will be for Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs until puck drops, he described both Morrow and Trotman as being NHL-ready defensemen.

"Both those guys I think are going to becoming regulars in the NHL very soon," Julien said. "This is how close they are and they've had good camps so it's an opportunity for them to step in there and get some experience and help us out."

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli also spoke highly of the two.

"They're both strong kids," Chiarelli said. "They're both good skaters. They both can find seams, can find lanes. Joe's been a consistent performer down there. Zach just lately has been picking up his game. So they're both strong kids that can skate."

Both players have logged five games with Providence this season. Morrow has notched a goal and an assist and is a plus-four, while Trotman has one assist and is a minus-four.

While the two seemingly have big shoes to fill in Chara's absence, neither of them is expecting to be the one to shoulder that burden. Instead, each is just trying to help the team out, which is exactly what Julien could use without his most versatile defenseman moving forward.

"I think our job as defensemen is just to step in and play our roles," Trotman said. "Be good defensively, keep the puck moving forward and try to limit our mistakes."

Naturally, some pressure comes with the territory.

"A little pressure, a little push in the back is never a bad thing," Morrow said. "I guess there'll be a little bit of pressure. I'm excited to see what happens."

Bruins try to soldier on without Chara

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
7:44
PM ET
video

BOSTON -- Losing a player due to injury for four to six weeks may not seem like a long time, but in the case of Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins, that time frame could feel endless.

But from general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien on down through the entire roster, the Bruins are confident they can get through this.

Julien and many of the players don't think there will be any issues without having Chara on the ice. Realistically, given his size and strength, along with his ability to shut down the opposition and average 25 minutes per game, there's no way to replace his contributions.

The "everybody has to step up" attitude sounds appropriate in a case like this.

The Bruins' depth on defense has already been tested. Without Chara and fellow blueliner Kevan Miller (who's out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder), Boston will need its once-inexperienced defensive core to perform a lot better than it has recently in order for the team to be successful.


(Read full post)


Chara (knee) won't need surgery

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
12:42
PM ET
BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara suffered a tear to the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday morning.

Chara will not need surgery.

“Good news is it’s isolated to that ligament. Bad news is he’s out 4-6 weeks,” Chiarelli said. “It might be a little bit earlier than four weeks, but a conservative time frame would be 4-6 weeks.”

Chara suffered the injury during the first period of the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday at TD Garden. He put a hit on the Islanders’ John Tavares in front of the Bruins’ net, but Chara showed no ill effects and finished his shift with 8:13 remaining in the first period. He exited the ice, went to the locker room and did not return.

“It’s obviously a blow,” Chiarelli said. “He’s one of the premiere defensemen in the league, but I’d rather have it 4-6 weeks than 4-6 months.”

Since joining the Bruins in 2006, the Bruins are 341-204-66 with Chara in the lineup during the regular season, and 8-7-5 without him. Chara missed a five-game stretch with a shoulder injury during the 2007-2008 season, which is the longest he’s been out of the lineup during his tenure in Boston.

“You hope everyone else picks up the slack,” Chiarelli said. “We’ve had a stretch before, might not have been 4-6 weeks, more like three weeks where Z was out. They don’t happen too often, but you hope everyone picks up the slack and we play a solid defensive game.”

Added Chiarelli, “You obviously want the other D to pick up the slack. You want to play a tighter defensive game. We’re not going to have Z . . . he plays that shutdown, so we’re going to need guys to play a better defensive game – forwards and D. We have to play a tighter defensive game.”

The Bruins have recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from Providence of the AHL.

“They’re both strong kids. They’re both good skaters. They both can find seams, can find lanes,” Chiarelli said. “Joe’s been a consistent performer down there this year. Zach, just lately has been picking up his game. They’re both strong kids that can skate.”

What you missed in NHL this week

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
10:00
AM ET

Slava VoynovKirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

It was a crazy week in the hockey world, with the top stories grabbing national headlines and transcending the sport. You'd have to be living under a rock to miss some of these, but just in case you need a refresher, we've got you covered on all that happened around the league.

1. Slava Voynov arrested

After last month's scandal involving former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice and the NFL, plenty of people wondered how the NHL would have reacted to a similar domestic violence case. Well, we have a better idea now after the league moved swiftly to suspend Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov within hours of his arrest on charges of felony domestic assault Monday morning. The investigation is ongoing, but Voynov's status leaves a whole slew of questions behind for the Kings to answer in the meantime. Story »


(Read full post)


Bruins in big trouble without Big Z

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
12:18
AM ET
video

BOSTON -- Fill in the blank: Without Zdeno Chara the Boston Bruins are ___.

There are a number of words that can be used to finish that statement, none of which bode well for the Bruins. The team's captain suffered a knee injury early in the first period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders at TD Garden and did not return.

A team source confirmed that Chara injured his left knee and will likely be out four to six weeks with ligament damage, with surgery possible. 

Chara, at age 37, is still one of the elite defenders in the NHL. He routinely logs 25-plus minutes of ice time for the Bruins, and their power play has been much more effective ever since he moved to the front of the net last season.

He has proven throughout his career that he can play through injuries and pain, so the fact he did not return to Thursday's game should be alarming for the Bruins. Even during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, he played the second round with two broken fingers on his left hand.

Since coming to Boston in 2006, Chara has never played fewer than 77 games in a season. In that time, the team is 341-204-66 with Chara in the lineup and 8-7-5 without him in the lineup, according to ESPN Stats & Information.


(Read full post)


Zdeno Chara has ligament damage

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
11:54
PM ET
video

BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara suffered a tear to the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be sidelined for four to six weeks, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday. Chara will not need surgery.

"Good news is it's isolated to that ligament. Bad news is he's out four to six weeks," Chiarelli said. "It might be a little bit earlier than four weeks, but a conservative time frame would be four to six weeks."

Chara suffered the injury during the first period of the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday at TD Garden. He put a hit on the Islanders' John Tavares in front of the Bruins' net, but Chara showed no ill effects and finished his shift with 8:13 remaining in the first period. He exited the ice, went to the locker room and did not return.

"It's obviously a blow," Chiarelli said. "He's one of the premier defensemen in the league, but I'd rather have it four to six weeks than four to six months."

Since joining the Bruins in 2006, the Bruins are 341-204-66 with Chara in the lineup during the regular season, and 8-7-5 without him. Chara missed a five-game stretch with a shoulder injury during the 2007-08 season, which is the longest he's been out of the lineup during his tenure in Boston.

"You hope everyone else picks up the slack," Chiarelli said. "We've had a stretch before, might not have been four to six weeks, more like three weeks where Z was out. They don't happen too often, but you hope everyone picks up the slack and we play a solid defensive game."

Added Chiarelli, "You obviously want the other D to pick up the slack. You want to play a tighter defensive game. We're not going to have Z. ... He plays that shutdown, so we're going to need guys to play a better defensive game -- forwards and D. We have to play a tighter defensive game."

Bruins coach Claude Julien believes the team can succeed without it's best player.

"There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all, to be honest," Julien said. "It's more about it's opportunities for players, and if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. ... You've got to hope that your team is strong enough as a whole to overcome these things. Did we lose a good player? We did. Is he a big part of our team? Yes, he is. But I'd like to think we're better than that, than feeling sorry for ourselves, or be discouraged. That's not the case in our dressing room right now."

The Bruins have recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman


(Read full post)


Rapid Reaction: Islanders 3, Bruins 2

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
9:50
PM ET
videoBOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have more to be concerned about than a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period and did not return. It was the second time this season the Bruins were forced to play with five defensemen in a game due to injury. Boston's Kevan Miller suffered a dislocated right shoulder during Saturday's 4-0 win against the Sabres in Buffalo, New York.

Chara's last shift came with 8:13 remaining in the first period. Earlier in the shift, he put a big hit on the Islanders' John Tavares between the circles in front of Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg. Chara did not appear to be injured and finished the shift before going to the room.

Chara has proven throughout his career the ability to play through injury, so the fact he was not able to return to action Thursday is a big worry.

As far as the rest of the game, the Bruins received goals from Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly, while Svedberg finished with 35 saves in the losing effort.

The Bruins were running all over the place early in the first period, so the Islanders took advantage of the nuttiness and gained a 1-0 lead when Frans Nielsen scored a backdoor goal at 6:21.

Boston responded late in the first when Lucic notched his first goal of the season. Linemate Seth Griffith had the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and knuckled a saucer pass to Lucic, who was crashing the net. Lucic redirected the pass, and it trickled past Chad Johnson to tie the game at one at 18:21.

With Chara out of the game, the Islanders scored twice in the second period for a 3-1 lead. New York's Kyle Okposo scored at 1:30 of the second before teammate Cal Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a two-goal lead at 9:27 of the period. Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski was on the ice for both goals.

In the third period, the Bruins cut their deficit to one when Kelly scored at 9:49. Linemate Carl Soderberg was battling for the puck along the boards, when he gained control, spun and took a shot on net. Kelly positioned himself perfectly for the rebound and knocked it home.

The Bruins sustained a massive flurry in the waning minutes but couldn't capitalize.

Zdeno Chara exits in 1st period

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
8:35
PM ET

BOSTON -- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period of Thursday's game against the New York Islanders and will not return.

Chara's last shift came with 8:13 remaining in the first period. Earlier in the shift, he put a big hit on the Islanders' John Tavares between the circles in front of Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg. Chara did not appear injured and finished the shift before going to the locker room.

The Bruins' defensive unit is already down one man with Kevan Miller out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder.


(Read full post)


W2W4: Bruins host Islanders, 7 p.m.

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
4:40
PM ET
The Boston Bruins (4-4-0, eight points) host the New York Islanders (4-2-0, eight points) Thursday night (7 ET) at TD Garden. Here’s what to watch for:

WELCOME BACK: Former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk and former goaltender Chad Johnson will both be on the ice when puck drops tonight. This is the first time Boychuk will face the Bruins since he was traded to the Islanders on Oct. 4. In his first six games for New York, Boychuk has two goals and four assists for six points. Johnson signed with the Islanders as a free agent in July for two years worth $2.6 million. Tonight will be Johnson’s third start of the season for New York.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE: It appears Bruins coach Claude Julien will keep the defensive pairing of Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug together for a second consecutive game. Krug, who normally plays the left side, moved to the right with Seidenberg as his partner during Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. That leaves Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton as the team’s top pairing, along with Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid as the third pairing.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins are 3-1-0 in their last four games. On Tuesday, Boston posted a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins are 2-2-0 on home ice this season. The Islanders dropped a 5-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum. New York began the season 4-0-0 before losing the last two games to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Maple Leafs.

MASKED MEN: Niklas Svedberg will make his third start (fourth game) for the Bruins. He’s 1-1-0, with a 0.91 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage. He’s coming off his first career NHL shutout, beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 last Saturday at First Niagara Center. Johnson gets the nod for the Islanders. He’s 1-0-0 with a 2.25 GAA and a .897 SP in two games this season for New York.

B's say Senators can help their city heal

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
4:13
PM ET
BOSTON -- When Boston was rocked by bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, the Bruins and their fans received unconditional support from the NHL and the other 29 teams. Now, the Bruins will return that favor.
On Wednesday, a gunman entered the Parliament area in Canada’s capitol city of Ottawa and killed one solider and injured another person. The Senators were scheduled to host the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night, but the game was postponed.
The tragedy in Ottawa hit close to home for members of the Bruins. Coach Claude Julien is a native of Ottawa, while Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly both played for the Senators.

Chara I know when it happened here we received so much support from everywhere around the league, across the country and around the world, so for sure it's something we're thinking about and people in Ottawa and Canada are in our thoughts and prayers.

-- Zdeno Chara
“It was very shocking, especially for that area. It’s a capitol city but it’s fairly quiet and not a busy area, so to see something like that happening is very shocking, very surprising,” Chara said. “Obviously, you’re feeling for everybody in the city and in the country. I know when it happened here we received so much support from everywhere around the league, across the country and around the world, so for sure it’s something we’re thinking about and people in Ottawa and Canada are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Julien said Wednesday’s situation in Ottawa was unsettling.

“Ottawa is home for me so I spent a good portion of the afternoon looking up at the CNN station and trying to find out as much as I could,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. It just goes to show that these tragedies don’t just happen in the USA, but also in other countries and there’s other countries in Europe that have been faced with that. It’s unfortunate but this is the life that we’re facing right now and these are the things that we should all be aware that is out there and we have to be vigilant and we have to be on our toes and pay attention to what’s around us.”

Added Julien, “Every city rallies around its own city and I’ve talked to a few people, including my family that’s still back there. My parents and brothers and sisters, it’s affected them even if they weren’t around that area. It affects the whole city like the bombing affected us here. They’ll have to get used to it in a way where that’s reality, unfortunately, and it’s happening. Again, Ottawa is a pretty -- or Canada is a pretty laid back country that tries to continue to be laid back. But it’s also a country that supported the U.S. in some of its decisions and more than likely those are the consequences that it faces because of that.”

Chara has friends in Ottawa and he spoke with a few of them Wednesday night. Kelly also made calls to friends to make sure everyone was OK, and he paid close attention to the news to remain updated.

He also read a story Thursday in the Ottawa Sun that quoted Chara, saying the Senators have an opportunity to help the city.

“That’s how we felt when that tragedy happened here in Boston,” Kelly said. “Obviously, when you’re part of the community it affects you even more so. That was a sad day in Ottawa and I hope that the team can help the community and I’m sure they will.”

[+] EnlargeBoston Bruins
Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesAfter the marathon bombings, the Bruins helped the city rally together and begin the healing process.
On the day of the attack in Boston, Marathon Monday, the Bruins were scheduled to face the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, but the game was postponed.

The Bruins had another game postponed that Friday, the day the city shut down while the manhunt for the suspects continued. After one suspect was killed and the other captured late Friday night in Watertown, Mass., the decision was made that the Bruins would play on Saturday.

Prior to the game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, players on both teams wore “Boston Strong” T-shirts and hats that honored the State Police as well as the Boston and Watertown police departments.

“It was extremely emotional,” Kelly said. “When that happened, we’re a part of this city just as much as everyone else is. All of us live in the city and it was something we’ll never forget, something unfortunately we were a part of, but as a hockey team you try to help in any way you can and we wanted to just help, just like everyone else wanted to help. The main thing I took from that was people were just willing to help and help one another. To see such a tragedy, so many good things came out of it."

The Bruins, like many other teams around the league, will honor Canada by playing the Canadian national anthem prior to tonight’s game against the New York Islanders.

Maple Leafs get back to work

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
3:28
PM ET
[+] EnlargeParliament Hill
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian WyldMembers of the Maple Leafs could see some of Wednesday's chaos unfold from their Ottawa hotel.

TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs were back on the ice a day after they were locked down in their hotel near the shootings in Ottawa.

Toronto was supposed to play the Senators on Wednesday night, but the game was postponed. When news of the shootings broke, the Leafs were in the middle of game day preparations at the Westin Hotel, which adjoins the Rideau Centre mall across the street from the National War Memorial, where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was killed Wednesday.

"It's scary because the guy was what, 24 years old? That's how old I am," center Nazem Kadri said Thursday. "It definitely puts things into perspective and certainly way too young to go."

The Maple Leafs were back home for practice Thursday, memories still fresh of the scary scene a day earlier. They could see ambulances outside their hotel windows.


(Read full post)


Boychuk: It'll be 'weird' to face old mates

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
2:26
PM ET
BOSTON -- No more than a month ago, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk would walk into the TD Garden and think nothing of it. On Thursday, however, the experience seemed almost surreal.

Heading to the away team’s locker room, watching the Bruins during their morning skate, seeing plenty of old faces. It figures to get even stranger once Boychuk takes the ice against his former team Thursday night for the first time since being traded earlier this month.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJohnny Boychuk will be playing on Garden ice on Thursday night for the first time as a visitor.
“It’s definitely different,” Boychuk said. “It’s going to be a little bit weird. You’re used to practicing with them, being around them all the time, and now you’re playing against them a couple of weeks after. It’s just different even sitting on the bench and being on the other side.”

Boychuk’s trade was a result of the Bruins being pushed against the salary cap, and he understood that. Still, it hurt. He had been with the Bruins for six seasons, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2011 and serving as both a veteran leader and locker-room favorite during his time in Boston.

The day he got the call, Boychuk already knew what the news was going to be.

“We knew something was going to happen,” he said. “When [Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli] phoned me, obviously when he goes, ‘Hey Johnny, it’s Peter,’ you knew why he’s phoning you midday.”

Was he angry that he was dealt? Asked the question, Boychuk stammered searching for a response.

“It’s tough to be angry because he was in a situation where he had to make a move,” Boychuk said. “It’s part of the business nowadays with the cap. How can I be angry at him when they gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL and gave me an opportunity to be a regular player in this league? You can’t be angry at them because they gave me the opportunity to be here.”

Now Boychuk’s opportunities have been with the Islanders, where he has flourished thus far. Registering two goals and four assists in the team’s first six games, Boychuk has been a strong presence on both the power play and defensively. However, it’s his presence in the locker room that had his new coach Jack Capuano raving about him.

“He’s a veteran guy,” Capuano said. “We can talk about his size, his right shot on the back end, possesses a big shot on our power play, has done real well for us. To me, I like the fact that he’s a winner. He comes from an organization that has had tremendous success. He’s good in our locker room, and he fits right in. To me, that’s the most important thing -- forgetting how he plays the game but getting along with his teammates on an everyday basis.”

Asked about Boychuk, Capuano initially joked that the defenseman wasn’t going to be happy about being scratched for Thursday night’s game. Of course, Boychuk wouldn’t have been the only one unhappy with that call.

“It should be fun [to face him],” Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “We saw him last night and in the hallway while we were skating. Told him he looked good in blue, but I was lying. It should be fun to see him and see how he plays. It’ll be enjoyable.”

“I hope I don’t get hit by his shot because we all know that’s pretty hard, but it will be fun playing against him,” Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski said. “[It’ll be emotional] a little bit before the game, but once the puck drops, it’s all business. I’m sure he’ll be the same way. We just have to focus on the team and what we have to do to beat the Islanders.”

Boychuk noted this as well, saying that come puck drop it will be just another game that his team will look to get two points out of. However, that won’t change the thoughts that go into his mind once he finds himself tasked with defending his former teammates and close friends.

“If I go into the corner with [Milan Lucic], it’s going to be different,” Boychuk said. “I’m going to have to finish my check on him and vice versa. He’s coming down, and if he can hit me, I know he’s going to even though we’re best friends. It’s going to be different. After the game, we’re friends.”

It’s no surprise that many on the Bruins still miss Boychuk. Coach Claude Julien said as much in his pregame news conference. However, Julien knows that with his team fighting its way back from a tough start to the season, it must remain focused on the game instead of the emotions.

“There’s no doubt that his first game back for him is going to be special and first game for us seeing him on the other side is certainly going to be different,” Julien said. “But at the end of the day we have a job to do, and hopefully he’s thinking the same way from his end of it.”

Johnson faces B's with no hard feelings

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
2:14
PM ET
BOSTON – As the backup goalie during Tuukka Rask’s Vezina Trophy season a year ago, Chad Johnson hopes he contributed to his partner’s success.

Johnson, now a member of the New York Islanders, played only one season with the Bruins in 2013-2014. He was outstanding in the backup role, posting a 17-4-3 record in 27 games, along with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Bruins coach Claude Julien worked his goaltending tandem perfectly, which allowed Rask to remain fresh for the entire season en route to a 36-15-6 record, 2.04 GAA and .930 SP in 58 games.

[+] Enlarge Chad Johnson
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJohnson signed a two-year deal with the Islanders worth $2.6 million.
“I hope last year I was a good partner to Tuukka, and he did his thing and hopefully I was a small part of that and giving him days off,” Johnson said. “So he didn’t have to worry, ‘Oh am I going to have to go in?’ At times just being stable was important, knowing my role on that team and giving him time off so he’s fresh and relaxed for when he plays. It was a role I embraced. It was a fun group last year and I take that with me this year and for the rest of my career.”

Ever since Rask earned the No. 1 job in Boston, he’s had three different goalie partners, including Anton Khudobin, Johnson and now Niklas Svedberg. All three have talked about how easy it is to work with Rask.

“It was awesome,” Johnson said. “He’s such a good guy and that’s the biggest thing. Sometimes you can have some quieter goalies, maybe not-so-friendly partners at times, so to be able to have a guy like him to be so relaxed and friendly with me ... it’s a good situation to be in when there’s that kind of identity.”

Due to Johnson’s success, and the Bruins’ salary-cap constraints, it was inevitable the goalie would sign elsewhere during the summer. The Islanders signed him to a two-year deal worth $2.6 million, and he’ll be in net against his former team Thursday night at TD Garden.

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely a day I’ve had circled on my calendar. It’s always fun to come back and play your old team and seeing old teammates. It’s definitely a day I’ve been looking forward to.”

Johnson When you move on, probably a lot of times it's business for bad reasons, but for my situation there wasn't room to be back with the Bruins. It's a different feeling coming back when there's really no animosity between both sides.

-- Chad Johnson, Islanders goaltender and former Bruins backup
Johnson said it was weird leaving Boston the way he did, especially after the success and contributions he had with the Bruins. But he understands the business side of the game, too.

“When you move on, probably a lot of times it’s business for bad reasons, but for my situation there wasn’t room to be back with the Bruins. It’s a different feeling coming back when there’s really no animosity between both sides,” he said. “It’s just the way it is in the process. Yeah, it’s always nice leaving on a good note with a team, because you always want to leave a good mark wherever you are, a positive mark in the locker room, in the community with the fans or however you can.”

Johnson faced the Bruins in a preseason game in Bridgeport, Conn. Svedberg started for Boston that game, and as Johnson was skating off the ice after warmups, he gave his former teammate a stick tap on the pads.

It was a nice gesture by Johnson, who learned his fate with the Bruins after the team first signed Svedberg last summer to a one-year, one-way deal worth $600,000.

“It’s a good situation for him,” Johnson said. “He’s a guy that’s been in the minors the last couple of years and he probably could’ve been in the NHL last year, being in the right situation, or the year before, too. In the business of hockey you just have to have the right situation.

“He’s in a good situation and I know that firsthand. I know what kind of team is over there and how goalie friendly the team really is, so it’s nice for him to be in a good situation.”

When the puck drops between the Bruins and Islanders on Thursday night, Johnson said he’ll try to focus on his game and not the fact he knows his opponent so well. He doesn’t believe he’ll have an advantage because he played for the Bruins.

“It can go both ways, right? It could be an advantage for the shooters, too,” Johnson said. “For me, I just think the biggest thing is just try to stay focused and not really worry about who the shooters are. As a goalie, if you start worrying about what guys’ tendencies are in practice that I’m used to from last year, then I can get caught in bad situations, so for the most part I just want to focus on treating it like a regular game, even though you know it’s not. I’ll just try to focus on my game.”

Bruins look forward to Boychuk reunion

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
9:29
PM ET


WILMINGTON, Mass. -- These days, it’s rare for a player in any sport to remain with one team his entire career.

Sure, there are exceptions, but it’s almost inevitable that a player will wear more than one uniform during his career. There are many reasons why a player is traded. Sometimes his personality no longer fits in the locker room and the chemistry has fizzled.

But in the case of Johnny Boychuk, the NHL salary cap was to blame in preventing the Bruins from keeping the veteran defenseman in Boston.

So, on Oct. 4, only a few days before the 2014-15 season began, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli traded Boychuk to the New York Islanders in exchange for a pair of second-round draft picks and a conditional pick.

On Thursday, Johnny’s back.

The Bruins will host their former teammate and the Islanders Thursday night at TD Garden. Many Bruins players talked about how weird it would be to play against Boychuk.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
Mike Stobe/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe personable Johnny Boychuk was one of the more popular players in the Bruins' dressing room.
“It’ll be awkward,” said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was Boychuk’s defensive partner in Boston. “I’ve played with him for a while, some guys have played with him for five-plus years, so it’s definitely going to be a little bit of a different feeling when guys forecheck him and have to hit him, or when I stand in front of the net and he shoots. It’ll be different, but at the end it’s all about winning a hockey game and focusing on that.”

During his tenure in Boston, Boychuk made his presence felt on the ice and in the locker room, where he was one of the most-liked players. Teammates enjoyed his personality and sense of humor.

On the ice, he produced a booming shot from the point. Former Bruins teammate, and current Florida Panther, Shawn Thornton would describe Boychuk’s shot as “tickling the rafters” when he wound up.

Boychuk would play through adversity or pain, sometimes both. Teammates loved how he played and he was one of many reasons why the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and returned to the finals in 2013.

“He’s a good team guy and an easy guy to like for players and coaches,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He came in and played a big role in our Stanley Cup run. Many thought he would be an American Leaguer and we traded for him. He stepped up and became a real reliable defenseman in this league, obviously a good defenseman.”

The day Boychuk was traded, the Bruins hosted the Detroit Red Wings in the final preseason game. Afterward, it felt like a wake in the Bruins’ locker room. Players were devastated about the trade, even though they all knew it was a strong possibility that Chiarelli would deal Boychuk due to cap constraints.

During his news conference announcing the trade, Chiarelli admitted the move was met with some displeasure.

“How does it impact our team? He was well liked, and I’m sure the guys are bummed and they’re probably a little bit bummed at me for doing it,” Chiarelli said at the time. “It’s about making the team better now, tomorrow, the next day and the next day. Arguably, this doesn’t make us better now, obviously, but it’s something, when I look at it in a series of steps, I think it was the right move.”

Julien’s philosophy is built on defense, so when he lost one of his most consistent blueliners, even the coach wasn’t pleased. But Julien understands this is how the game sometimes needs to operate in a salary-cap era and he doesn’t blame Chiarelli.

After Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Julien again was asked to describe Boychuk’s contributions during his career in Boston.

“We lost a good person, a good player. You’re always happy he’s doing well, of course you’re going to hear us say ‘except against us,’” Julien said. “I don’t think there’s anybody here who wishes anything but the best for him, and then you move on.

“That’s what we’re tying to do and he’s done the same thing. He seems to have done that and when you look at his start, he’s had a good start with that team as well.”

In his first six games for the Islanders, Boychuk has two goals and four assists for six points. His team is 4-2-0, tied for the Metropolitan Division lead entering play Wednesday.

He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and likely will land a deal worth upward of $6 million per season. That is too expensive for Boston’s payroll. Clearly the Bruins wanted to keep Boychuk, but it wasn’t financially viable in today’s salary-cap era.

SPONSORED HEADLINES