Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. In his latest entry, Boychuk talks about why being benched was good for him, what he thinks of the Bruins' trade for another defenseman, and why the B's have been so good on the road. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Being scratched was probably a blessing in disguise for me. In our February game against the Leafs, coach [Claude Julien] told me I was scratched and not going to play. I knew I wasn't playing as well as I should have been. I went up to the press box and it was good to go up there and watch and see the time, the space and how not to be forcing plays. I think it was a blessing just because of the time of year with playoffs coming up soon. Everybody wants to be at their best. Maybe this happened to me to put a little fire in me. It just showed me how much time and space I have out there rather than rushing passes or forcing plays.
In our game against the Lightning last week, I felt like everything came together. It was nice to be named the second star of the game. I'm not usually a star even when I think I've played my best game. I don't know what got into me this game. I didn't prepare anything different really. I just had a couple nice hits. I tried to keep everything simple and try to get shots on net.
It was nice going 6-0 on this last road trip. I don't think I've done that in my career. Going 6-0 on the road is a pretty tough feat to do. We did it and we're still trying to keep things going by playing well. The reason why I think we're so good on the road is we don't put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we're not home. We know we're not there to play fancy or make tic-tac-toe passes. We just try to keep it simple and get pucks and bodies to the net, which is how we should play.
We had a rare three days off when we were in Vancouver. I went and spent time with my family. I have family there. My brother and his girlfriend came down and my mom and dad came down and we went out for a nice dinner.
I'm from Edmonton and surprisingly when we played the Oilers, I didn't have to get too many tickets. I didn't know how many I could get from the team and it sells out in Edmonton. I only got about 15, but there was about 50 people that came down afterward and over a hundred there to watch. You know what was strange though? I was in warm-up and I was looking around to see where all my family was and I didn't see anybody. I was thinking maybe they didn't get their tickets. I was looking around trying to find them and I didn't recognize not even one person in the building. I thought that was weird. It was like I was in Atlanta or something. Fortunately, they all came down after warm-ups.
When the trade deadline passed I was surprised leading up to it how I couldn't feel that much tension in the room. It's just part of the game. If someone gets traded, you wish the guy well. You can't really control it unless you have a no-trade clause.
I will say it was hard to see [Blake] Wheeler and Stewy [Mark Stuart] go. They went together to Atlanta. It's kind of nice when you go somewhere with someone and they have [former Bruins assistant coach Craig] Ramsay as the coach, who is a familiar face. I'm sure they have other friends on the team. I'm happy that they're together, but sad to see them leave because I played with them for quite sometime now.
We've got some new faces in the dressing room now. Chris Kelly is one. He's a good forward and penalty killer. He can score and is a good tipper who works really hard. We also traded for Rich Peverley. He's a good centerman. Both Chris and Rich work extremely hard and they're on a line together that meshes well. They scored against the Lightning and it won't be long until they continue to put a lot more goals in the net because they're both extremely good players that work hard.
We also traded for another defenseman, Tomas Kaberle. He's great at setting up Z [Zdeno Chara] for one-timers as you probably noticed in the last couple of games. He's very patient with the puck. He's good on the power play and he's good five-on-five no matter what. He always seems to make the right play. Since I'm also a defenseman, it's fun to watch because then I might learn something from him. It's just nice to see how much time and patience he has with the puck. You might be able to look at him and try to do the same things he does, but you probably won't do it like he can.
I also have a new lockermate with [Shane] Hnidy, who we signed. Don't let the H in his name fool you, it's pronounced NIGHT-tee. He's been here before, but has been out for the whole year because of his shoulder injury. He's getting back into shape. Once he does get back in the lineup, he's going to be fun to watch because he's another gritty defenseman who brings playoff experience to this team. He's a great team guy in the locker room as well.
Speaking of lockers, I put a piece of tape above my locker about a month, month and a half ago with "Move your feet, Play physical, Shoot the puck" written on it. It's a little reminder for me of what I need to do when I get out on the ice.
What else has been going on around here? Well, how cool of a nickname is Darth Quaider [for Adam McQuaid]? Well, it's cool but also nerdy. It's actually kind of a weird nickname. If you think about it, how would someone ever think of that? Who ever thought of that one? I don't have a Darth Quaider T-shirt. The only person that has one is Andy [Ference] and maybe Quaider if Andy made him one.
Tough to see Andy out now for a few weeks. He brings a toughness and that grittiness to our team. He's a steady defenseman that is one of our team leaders even though he doesn't have an A or a C on his jersey. We have good guys that will fill in for him when he's gone for now.
We're getting to the final stretch here. I'd like to see us go to the top of the whole league before the regular season is over. It's a goal, but we're just trying to worry about things game by game. You can't worry too much about being at the top of the league. You just have to try to play a full 60 minutes every game. For me, personally, I want to keep playing like I have been the last couple of games and how we played on the road trip. If I and the whole team do that, then we're probably going to win more times than not.
It's hard to say who our team MVP has been so far. I'd say Looch [Milan Lucic] has been one of our top guys for the whole year. It's not just one guy, everybody's been playing really well. We're getting goals from everybody, but Looch has been scoring a lot more than the other guys. So I guess we might say he's been the team MVP.
Time to answer a fan question, keep the comments coming! Reneeanne69 asks if there has ever been a fan's sign I liked so much that I went and talked to that fan? No, but you do notice the signs in warm-ups. Other than that, whether the sign is good or bad, you block it out. You don't need any distractions. Well, I don't at least. You do notice it, but you don't talk to the fans about their signs because most of the time you don't see them. There was one sign about Brad [Marchand] that was very clever, but that's all I'm going to say on that.
Second question was what team would I play on if I weren't a Bruin and please don't say the Habs. No, it wouldn't be Montreal. I'd say it would probably be Edmonton because I'm from there. I grew up watching them.