Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk has kept a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. In the final regular season installment, he evaluates their first round opponent and who he'll be looking out for on the ice, what he learned from last year's playoffs, and tells us why an 80's windbreaker is a hot commodity in the Bruins dressing room. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Before we get to hockey let's talk about the Red Sox. Everyone should know by now that I'm a big Sox fan. Glad to see they won on Friday [and Sunday]. I know they started out bad but at least they got that first win under their belt. I didn't go to the home opener but I was walking around and every time I passed by a pub, I would look inside to see how they're doing.
The last month we've had a lot going on as we get ready for the playoffs. I scored a goal against the Blackhawks at the end of March that gave Rex [Mark Recchi] the assist- That was pretty special because it moved him to twelfth place on the NHL All-Time scoring list passing Paul Coffey. I got a picture inside the dressing room that I'm going to get him to sign. It was nice to be able to part of that.
Recchi is my go-to guy to talk to when I have a hockey question. He's full of knowledge. He's been around for a while. He's still outperforms the young guys. You just can go up to him and whatever you ask him, he usually has a pretty solid answer. Someone else I've learned from is Z [Zdeno Chara] since I got to play with him so much this year. Playing with him has taught me to keep my feet moving and I've got a lot more time than I think.
What else has been going on this past month? Andy [Ference] bought an 80's Bruins windbreaker on eBay for $35. After each win a player on the team is picked to wear it. They wear it in the dressing room during media access and it hangs in his stall until the next win. Looch [Milan Lucic] was the first to get the jacket when we started doing this in late March. I'm hoping to one day wear it. It's for the unsung hero of the game I guess you would say.
We've been playing pretty well. There's been a couple periods where we were lulling, but overall we've been playing pretty good. I think as we head into the playoffs that our strength is our size and our ability to win battles along the boards and forecheck. Coach [Claude Julien] said he's glad there aren't shootouts in the playoffs because that has not been our strength. We haven't had that many this year. So we haven't really practiced it. Maybe it really is a good thing there isn't shootouts in the playoffs because we know we can do the job in overtime.
We have a good, strong team. We've got goaltending with two goaltenders on this team that can do the job. We know that. With how hot Timmy [Thomas] has been this whole year, you can see how confident he is. It just makes the whole team more confident. We have good D and good forwards. We have strong big forwards and skilled forwards as well. It's kind of like the whole package.
We clinched our division and finished in third place in the Eastern Conference. The focus is now on the playoffs and not where we finished the regular season. We just want to make sure to do our best. Topping the hundred point mark as a team was pretty special. To get to a hundred points, you have to be one of the elite teams in the League. We showed that we are an elite team.
We're facing the Canadiens in the first round. Montreal has skilled fast forwards. They've got good goaltending, but I guess everybody has good goaltending now. The player I'll be on the lookout for is [Mike] Cammalleri. He just seems to get lost and he knows where to be to get the puck. The rivalry with Montreal is no secret. I'm looking forward to seeing the playoff atmosphere there. It's going to be absolutely nuts there. I didn't care who we played though because it's just fun playing in the playoffs.
With playoffs starting up, I'm growing a playoff beard starting immediately. A lot of guys on the team shaved their heads last week for Cuts for a Cause, which along with the Bruins Foundation, helped raise money for charity. Next year I'll shave my head. The reason I didn’t this year is, now that I'm engaged, we need to take a bunch of pictures and stuff like that. So we didn't really want me to have a shaved head for that.
Growing up, the playoffs are something you always looked for and you wanted to achieve winning the Stanley Cup. It's one of those things where you would put anything on the line to make your team win. The intensity level goes up so much and the battle level goes up times two. Everybody is paying attention to small details. When you don't, the puck usually ends up in the back of your net because the other team makes sure to capitalize on it. The whole situation feels different. You can tell when you're in the playoffs when you're going to the rink to practice, you can feel it. I can't really explain it, but you can definitely feel it. Having been in the playoffs last year taught me when we're up a couple goals on a team to keep going at them and not to think the game is over. The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if we win every game! No, seriously, if we play together as a team, that will be the key.
Time to answer some fan questions. Nicole1575 asks what's my favorite thing to do in the offseason (I know everyone says playing golf)? Well, I do play golf and really like to. I do also like fishing. But my family doesn't have a lake property, so I don't get to go fishing too much. Nickbite21 asks who the most vocal guy on the team is with regards to motivation? Mark Recchi because everything he says is basically bang on. He knows he has a lot of respect out of everybody on our team. Everybody listens to him. Well, everybody listens to everybody, but it's just different when he talks because he has so much experience.