Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. In this installment he talks about the second-half goal for the team, how he feels about another concussion to Marc Savard, whether Thursday's game against Dallas felt like old-time hockey to him and more (as told to Louise K. Cornetta).
Over the All-Star break I went to New York. We were supposed to go to Florida, but our flight was canceled because of the weather. We took the train there and went and saw "Wicked." It was really good. I don't usually like musicals, but I thought it was pretty good actually. Believe it or not, seeing "Wicked" was my idea and not the fiancee's. I hadn't seen a Broadway show before, so I wanted to see what one was like. I did watch some of the All-Star festivities. When they picked the teams I was actually at the play, but I did hear all about it. I think doing the picks like the old schoolyard way was interesting and fun for the fans. I wouldn't want to get picked last like [Phil] Kessel. But at least he got to give some money to a charity for getting picked last and he probably gave the car away as well. So at least something good came out of being the last one picked. Then Z [Zdeno Chara] wins the hardest-shot contest with his 105.9 mph shot. I wasn't surprised. He does have a hard slap shot. What can't Z do? He breaks the record with the hardest shot at the All-Star Skills. He gets a hat trick against Carolina [Jan. 17]. I'll tell you what he can't do. He can't fit in a tight spot, that's for sure. He is big.
I got my first goal this season against Carolina [Jan. 18]. It felt really good and now I just want to get another one. The guys on the bench told me, "Nice shot," and "Keep shooting." Look, I know I was the guy who had the most shots on goal  this season without a goal. It obviously felt like a weight had been lifted. It was nice to get the first one out of the way. I like not having that in the back of my mind anymore. [Nathan] Horton also was someone who wanted to score badly. I was happy for him when he scored against Carolina [Feb. 1]. He's had a lot of opportunities where goalies have just made good stops on him. He just needed that and hopefully there are many more to come. Maybe we should just play Carolina all the time. I score against them. Horton does. Z gets a hat trick on them. Yes, I think that would be nice because we seem to do good against them.
We're a little past the midway point of the season. If I look back on the first half, we had a couple of hiccups throughout the way, but that's what every team does. So far the season has been going well and we want to continue to do well in the second half and push on. The goal for the second half is to move up in the standings. We'd like to be at the top. Someone who has impressed me the first half of the season is Greg Campbell. He's a silent kind of player on the ice. He likes to mix it up. He does a good job penalty killing. He doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves.
Thursday was a game with a lot of fights. Dan [Paille] ended up getting a four-game suspension. He had just gotten into the lineup and had been playing really well actually. It's too bad. He was back checking and the guy [Raymond Sawada of the Stars] didn't see him. Well, that's the rules and I guess you can't really break any rules without getting punished. It's too bad but I'm pretty sure Zach [Hamill] will do a good job in his place. People have been saying the Dallas game felt like an old-time hockey game. It didn't really for me. Right off the bat we see one fight and then we thought we'd play, then there's two more fights that followed right after that, then we scored, then [Andrew] Ference started another fight. It didn't feel like old-time hockey to me, but now that I'm thinking about it I guess I can see at times how it did.
I wanted to talk about Savvy [Marc Savard] getting another concussion. It's sad but he can take as much time as he needs. We're all here to support him. We want him back but the first concern is his health and well-being. It's just too bad because he's an excellent player and a team player. I talked to him Friday night and a few times over the past few days. He's not doing so hot. He just wishes everybody good luck.
Another one of my teammates I wanted to bring up is defenseman Mark Stuart. I know he's back healthy now but hasn't been playing [healthy scratch]. I've been there. The beginning of last season I wasn't playing. It's hard to do that. Everyone just happens to be healthy right now on defense. It's just too bad because if he didn't get hurt, he'd probably be in the lineup right now. It's a tough situation for him, but I guess it's part of the game. A lot of guys have gone through this. Once somebody does get hurt or plays badly, he's going to get his shot and we know he's going to do well.
This time, I'm going to answer a question from Jackie_83, who left this comment: How do you feel when a player is traded away? Do you or any of the other guys feel that the next trade might be you?
It's just part of the game and you learn how to deal with it. As you are part of this team and organization, you just learn to deal with it and wish the guy that got traded well. You never know if you're going to get traded or not. You just have to play to the best of your ability.
Keep sending those questions and comments as I like answering them.
I thought I'd end this time going over some of my firsts that I can remember. OK, here we go:
-- The first NHL game I attended as a fan was an Oilers game. I don't even remember the actual game or who they played, but I remember going into the building and looking at all the stuff they had in the arena. I remember the [Wayne] Gretzky statue, which is kind of like the [Bobby] Orr statue we have out in front of the Garden. I remember being in awe there.
-- The first time I switched from forward to defenseman was when I was in Pee Wee and Bantam. I was a forward and then I switched to defense. Then my first year pro when I was in Hersey, I was a forward and then it was back and forth until I came to the Bruins and I fully became a defenseman. I wanted to be a defenseman because I felt more comfortable there.
-- My first NHL shift I don't even remember because I was nervous.
I just wanted to make it short and I didn't want to make a mistake. I wanted to get that first one out of the way and then I felt more comfortable as the game went on.
-- My first NHL fight was in the preseason in Detroit, I was 18. I don't really remember much of it except it was a short fight and I won.
-- The first time I played on the same line as Z I was just happy to be playing with him. You watch him on the TV and he's a great player. So I just wanted to make him happy.
-- My first big purchase when I got my first signing bonus was a house, which I still have, and then I paid off my parents' mortgage.
-- My first NHL goal was a nice pass by [David] Krejci against Toronto. I came off the bench and Krejci pulled up and gave me a nice pass that I shot as hard as I could. It went in glove-hand side.
All good memories.