Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk continues with his season long diary for ESPNBoston.com. In the latest installment he talks about why the final minute of a period can be the game changer, what he predicts for Zdeno Chara at All-Star Weekend and also shares some good news. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Right now I'm wearing a vintage Bobby Orr Bruins jersey because he stopped by our locker room before our game against the Penguins. Does it seem like we've been playing a lot of games lately? For me, it seems like every second day we're playing a game. We left December 26, we came back after New Year's and we've been playing almost every second day since or at least that's how it seems. With so many games lately, I'd say the one that's stood out was our game in Pittsburgh, where we came back and won in the third period.
Another game that stands out was against Minnesota. I got a puck off the foot, then I got one in the kneecap and then I got hit in the face with a puck, but everything is okay. All that happened in one game too! It was a pretty bad night afterwards. Ice bags were my friend. We've had a few guys beat up lately with Looch [Milan] and [Andrew] Ference out of the line up. They're a major part of our team, but then again, we have guys stepping up at a time we need them to.
We didn't see Sidney Crosby this time around when the Penguins came here. That's just the way it goes, I guess. He's a great player. Everybody has a lot of respect for him. He's a good player and a leader on their team. We were hoping it would be an advantage for us not having him play. When he's out of the line up, you want to make sure to capitalize and get those two points, which we came up just short of doing today.
After losing that game in Montreal, which was very unfortunate, I've got to say it's nice to be back home. I think the team has been playing really well lately. There's a couple little tweaks we have to make but we're working on that. Some of the tweaks are learning the little things that each team does and what our team does in response. You watch video and go over their systems and things you ought to be aware of.
Last time we talked about the importance of the first five minutes of a game, this time I want to talk about the last minute of a period. The final minute can either change the momentum for the next period or you can carry the momentum you already have over. It can either make or break a game. The power play is another thing we've talked about. It's something we work on. We work on it every chance we can. So we work on the power play and trying to get shots to the net and create opportunities to score.
Obviously, there was no one more deserving than Z [Zdeno Chara] to be an All-Star. He's got to be there. He's our Captain and our leader. I want to see him win the hardest shot contest. I'm going on record as saying he's going to. If he doesn't, he's going to hear it from me. Timmy [Thomas] is another well deserved All-Star. When he's hot in goal, he gives us wins. He's been playing outstanding and that's the Timmy we need. We're fortunate because we have two goalies [Tuukka Rask] back there that get the job done. It makes our lives easier, but as a defenseman, you're just trying to take away scoring opportunities. If the other team does get a scoring opportunity, not that you want that, but you have confidence knowing that Timmy's going to come up and make a save for us.
I was thinking about some things hockey fans may want to know about. I came up with what do we talk about in a timeout? It depends on the game situation. If you just got three goals scored on you, it's a timeout just to regroup and clear your head. If it's a timeout before the end of a game and we're winning, we go over a play the other team is going to draw up. We go over what we want to do if we win the draw and what we have to do if we lose the draw.
Another thing people might want to know about is how shooters are picked for shootouts. First of all, I can tell you I'm on the bench! They can be chosen by who's hot but also we practice it. Who does well in the practice shootout is who gets the nod. If a guy scores five times in a row in the practice shootout, I'm pretty sure he's going to be one of the top three to go for that next game.
Someone was telling me how the Penguins have a mustache boy for whoever doesn't score on their goalie after a practice of shootouts -- the last person left not to score has to grow a mustache. I didn't watch that HBO series 24/7 on the Penguins and Capitals, but I guess the Capitals give out a hard hat, sort of like a game ball after games. We don't do anything like either of those things here. In Providence we did, but since I've been here we haven’t had anything like that. In Providence, we also gave out a hard hat after games.
I wanted to share some news. I got engaged over Christmas time. The morning of the 24th, because I didn’t want the ring to be her Christmas present. I proposed right in front of the Christmas tree and she said yes. Then we opened presents the next day. And I told you guys I would reveal my New Year's Resolution if I broke it. Well, I broke it. I was trying not to drink diet coke. There was one day I broke down and had like ten of them. One more thing, I am not going to speak for the whole team, but I am rooting for the Patriots. Most of the guys do -- I'm not saying we have a Jets fan on this team because for me that is not allowed!
Time to answer a fan's question, keep the comments coming! nickbite21 who lives in Florida asked how many sticks do I go through a year? Wanting to know if they broke often like wooden baseball bats, which are more common down in Florida and do graphite sticks break easier? Sometimes you get a bad batch of sticks and you'll break like six in a row. You will get pretty ticked when that happens because you take the time to do up your sticks and then they break. It all depends on if the sticks are durable or not. Usually I go through about fifteen to twenty a year.