The Boston Bruins are sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 6-1-1 record, which is good for 13 points.
The Bruins are quickly becoming a potent offensive team, as they have five players with at least two goals so far this season. Although they are putting the puck in the net at a solid rate, the reason for their strong start is due to the hard-nosed defensive play by the blue-liners.
Rookie sensation Dougie Hamilton, veteran Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara lead a shutdown cast of top defensive players that sometimes get overshadowed by other Norris Trophy caliber defensemen. The Bruins defense is having a good start to 2013. However, it is Johnny Boychuk that has put in several stand-out performances for B’s head coach Claude Julien.
Boychuk, a former draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, spent most of his time in the AHL. He was originally a forward who was coached early on to be an enforcer. Once that did not work out, he made the transition to defense, a move that has benefited him to say the least.
He was traded to the Bruins in 2008, where he was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Providence. He later worked his way up and earned a spot on the Bruins roster, often being paired with Chara as the top defensive tandem for the Black and Gold.
Through the first eight games this season, Boychuk has recorded one goal and one assist along with a plus-three rating. He has quite the slap shot once he is able to work his way into the offensive zone and he gets the space to get a shot off.
The stat that really stands out for Boychuk is the total number of blocked shots. He leads the team with 18 blocked shots, which ranks among some of the top defensemen in the NHL. He is the type of player who does all of the little things right. Sometimes, those aspects of the game will not even show up on the stat sheet.
Boychuk often goes unrecognized due to the talent that the Bruins have protecting the blue line. However, coach Julien has the confidence in him to play in every situation during a game.
It may be too early in Boychuk’s career for him to be thrown into the discussion of Norris Trophy candidates, but he certainly plays like one. With him healthy and in the lineup, the Bruins have one of the top defensive cores in the league.