MONTREAL-It’s not the reason why they lost, but it certainly didn’t help their cause as the Bruins were forced to play the majority of their 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens with just five defensemen.
Nearly five minutes into their first contest of the year with their historic rivals, Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk was driven into the boards by Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Boychuk was able to get himself on all fours as Pacioretty was called for boarding, but that was about all Boychuk could do as the veteran defenseman was in obvious pain.
Boychuk was eventually carried off of the ice on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
The Bruins finished the period strong as Gregory Campbell scored the lone goal of the period, but it was the second period where the Bruins were sluggish, and that’s ultimately what cost them the contest as the Canadiens took advantage of the poor period played by the Bruins, scoring their only two goals in the middle period.
The mental effect of losing Boychuk seemed to hit the Bruins in the second period as they were outshot 18-7, and a completely different team than they were in the first 20 minutes of play. With Boychuk’s health on their mind, the Bruins obviously wanted to pick up the two points for their injured teammate.
“It was up to us to win it from him, and we didn’t do that, so I really hope he is doing better” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron who had an unusual rough night at the faceoff dot where he lost 16 of 28 draws.
Obviously seeing a teammate and friend go down with such a serious injury is never an easy thing to watch, but as difficult as that is, you have to put it behind you and go back to focusing on the game.
“Well you have to focus on the game” said Chara who finished the evening a minus-1 with 29:50 of time on ice.
The loss of Boychuk forced the Bruins to play with five defensemen, something they have unfortunately been all too familiar with. Boychuk’s first period injury marks the fourth time this season the Bruins have lost a defensemen in the first period of one of their games. Losing a defenseman so early in the game without a doubt makes things more difficult for Chara and his fellow blueliners.
“Yeah I mean it’s obvious that if you’re down a D that you have to go out and shorten the bench and guys end up playing more minutes and the time is heavier.”
If there is any good news to come from this, it’s that Boychuk was cleared to fly back to Boston with the Bruins, and will be re-evaluated in Boston on Friday.
“He’s coming back with us” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I think tomorrow we will no doubt have a clearer explanation and probably have more details from our own doctors. But they did a great job here and took care of him.”
Although Pacioretty was penalized for the hit, the general census in the Bruins dressing room after the game was that the hit was not dirty, or even intentional, and was just some bad luck on the side of Boychuk.
“Yeah you know I guess it was deserving of a penalty and that’s what it was called” said Campbell who scored his second goal of the season Thursday night.
“Things happen fast and Johnny was going in for the puck. I don’t think there was any intent, I’m almost positive, he’s a clean player and it’s unfortunate that things happen and like I said things happen quickly. So sometimes you put yourselves in those positions where it’s hard to kind of stop yourself and stop the momentum you have going into the play there.”