Sunday, May 8, 2011
Boychuk diary: Looking ahead to Lightning
By Johnny Boychuk
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk kept a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. In his second postseason installment, he looks at how to prepare for the Lightning, what it was like to get the go-ahead goal in the decisive game against the Flyers, why the fans deserve this playoff run, and how the power play has started working again. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Before the third period started for Game 4, we were very calm in the dressing room. Then we went out and I was fortunate to be able to score to give us the go-ahead goal. At the time, I didn't know it would be the winning goal. They have a good team and could have come back and scored one. But then Looch [Milan Lucic] scored a goal and then we got another couple insurance goals after that, it was a great to see.
On my goal, I just know that the puck came back to me and I wanted to get it past that first Flyer, and I did. I don't know if it hit anything or it curved or did something, but it went top corner. It was a really good feeling and it ended up being the game-winner.
Everyone knows a year ago we were up 3-0 to the Flyers and how they beat us four straight to advance. I think we did a good job not thinking about what happened last year. We learned from it. Obviously, we knew what happened but we wanted to put it behind us. We did that. Especially being able to end the series in front of our hometown crowd in four games is huge. The fans really deserved it considering what happened last year. I knew it had been a while, but I didn't realize just how long it had been since we made it to the Conference finals. [Editor's note: The last time the Bruins played in the Eastern Conference finals was in 1992, when they lost to the Penguins.] Our fans really deserved this and we are happy we could deliver for them.
I think the difference this year versus last with the Flyers was we stuck to our game plan and didn't stray from it too much. We really worked it on defense when they were in our zone. We tried to save as much as we could when they were there. If you look, they only scored seven goals all series. And what can you say about the play of Timmy [Thomas] in goal? I have one word: Amazing. The 52-save night was unbelievable. He was amazing all series, all playoffs actually.
OK, let's talk power play. I know people were wondering what was going on there. It was Game 3 when [Zdeno Chara] scored our first power-play goal of the playoffs on a five-on-three. We finally got one in Game 4 with Looch that was a five-on-four power-play goal. Looch actually scored two goals in Game 4, which was great to see. He's a great player, one of the best, if not the best on the team.
It's good to see him and his line contributing. It was nice to have the power-play going now. Once we got the one from Z, it really helped us out by building a little bit of confidence on our power play. We were doing a good job moving the puck on the power play, we just had to be able to bury the puck in the net with a goal and we did it.
We've had a few guys get hurt this past round. [Adam McQuaid's injury] kind of made you sick to your stomach when you see one of your teammates, or anyone actually, go into the boards like that head-first. We're just lucky that he's OK. I know it was scary to see and I was worried for him, everybody in the dressing room and probably every fan in hockey was.
With Bergy [Patrice Bergeron suffered a mild concussion in Game 4] I didn't even know he was hurt until the media told me after the game. I didn't see that one, and as soon as he got hurt, I scored that goal. Obviously, he's a big part of our team and we hope to have him back on the ice as soon as possible.
Tampa Bay is who we will be facing next. They've got [Vincent] Lecavalier, [Martin] St. Louis and [Steve] Stamkos. Obviously, those guys are great players. We'll have to be on the lookout for those guys, especially keep our eye on Stamkos, that guy is close to a 50-goal scorer [he had 45]. In St. Louis, you have a guy who is a really good passer for him.
I'm very familiar with their goalie [Dwayne] Roloson. I remember him when he played with Edmonton, which is where I'm from. He basically took the team under his wing. He's a great goalie. We've got to make sure to put the puck past him when we have the chance because he doesn't give up. He may be 41 but he doesn't play like it, that's for sure.
What we need to do is stick with our game plan this series. The same game plan we've had the whole playoffs, which is continue to play good D in front of Timmy, and we're fortunate to have big, skilled forwards too. It's also going to be key to score on the power play. But I know Tampa has a good power play and we need to make sure we kill penalties when we have the chance as well.
In the regular season I was told we took three out of the four games we played with them. What can I take from that for this series? I'm not sure I can even remember those games they were so long ago! So what we'll do to prepare is go over video. We'll take a look at the system they play and prep for that.
Our hometown crowd has been great for us and we're happy to have home-ice advantage for this round. They've been doing a great job cheering for us and being behind us the whole playoffs. We'll have a little time to rest here between rounds, but it's not really an advantage because they'll have the same amount of rest as us. The rest will be good for the guys that have bumps and bruises to get them cleared up.
The hockey playoffs, besides playing in them, have been great to watch. I think our whole team has been watching all the games. These games have been great, with exciting finishes and lots of overtimes. Sometimes you have to go to bed because of the time difference even though you want to see what the outcome is going to be. It's fun watching hockey, especially in the playoffs.
I'll end this one answering a fan question like I usually do. Bruins-Unite asked if I knew my nickname on the streets is Johnny "Demolition" Boychuk? They said it's because many of them noticed the crazy hits during the Philly series and how I've been able to get some goals and keep the momentum going in games. As far as the nickname, I had no clue! I've never heard that one before, but it's not bad.