The toughest part of Thursday night’s return to Boston for Johnny Boychuk came during the national anthem.

The toughest part of Thursday night’s return to Boston for Johnny Boychuk came during the national anthem.

“Just feeling the atmosphere and being back on the ice,” Boychuk said. “I tried not to look anywhere but just concentrate, and be prepared for the game. That was the most difficult part, but after the first couple shifts, then it’€™s time to get going.”

Boychuk was a plus-1 in 23 minutes and 25 shifts in the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the his former team at TD Garden. Only one of his “Johnny Rockets” found its way on net and it was stopped. He had two blocked shots and two giveaways. Boychuk did not figure in the scoring but was just happy to be apart of a night of appreciation from the Bruins fans who had watched him grow up in Boston.

“It was an interesting night,” Boychuk said. “You’€™re playing against that team, and you grew up with them, playing, for the last six years, you see them and you’€™re the opposition now. Looch [Milan Lucic] steamrolled me, so I’€™ll get a nice chuckle out of that when I see him. They’€™re a good team. We came in here, we were determined, and we held them off in the last five minutes. They had some good chances, but the other ex-Bruin [Chad Johnson] made some great saves for us, and kept us in the game when we needed it.”

How long was it before he really knew he was back in Boston as the opposition?

Until Looch [Milan Lucic] hit me. That’€™s when I realized I was playing against them,” Boychuk said. “It was a good hit by him, I was just trying to hold him up, but with his strength and speed, he just steamrolled me.”

As is usually the case for any player that returns to Boston for the first time since leaving, it was an emotionally draining experience.

“It was a tough game, just seeing across the ice, you’€™re playing against your friends,” he said. “But when you’€™re on the ice, it’€™s obviously business. I’€™m just happy we got the two points, and I look forward to the next game.”

During player introductions, Bruins public address announcer Jim Martin quickly moved onto the next name after the crowd cheered him. But fans would have more time to cheer Boychuk just over 15 minutes later. During the first TV timeout, the Bruins ran a video highlight on the scoreboard of his accomplishments in Boston with the Bruins, just like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce received from the Celtics last season and countless Red Sox players have received in years past at Fenway.

“It’€™s just classy,” Boychuk said of the tribute. “The fans, I heard them the whole time, except for when I got my stick whacked by Kells [Chris Kelly] and they almost scored, they were chanting my name.

Then there was the matter of the win itself, a victory that improved the upstart Islanders to 5-2-0 on the season.

“That’€™s such a good team to play against,” Boychuk said. “For us to come in here and for us to come in here and win, it shows what kind of team we have. We just have to keep doing that, keep doing the simple things, and look forward to the next game.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Dougie Hamilton needs to come up big for the Bruins. (Getty Images)Dougie Hamilton grew up wanting to be like Zdeno Chara. Now he kind of has to be. 



If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.

If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.

The Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL last season. They lost Chris Kelly to a broken leg last December and a back injury just before the playoffs. The 2013 team made the Stanley Cup final despite the loss of Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Just a week ago, Kevin Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight in Montreal and has been lost indefinitely.

But when the Islanders John Tavares’ right knee collided with Chara’s left knee Thursday night in a 3-2 loss, there was the sense that Boston’s captain could be out a while early on in a season where the Bruins are struggling to find their identity.

That sense was apparent when talking to Bruins players in the dressing room afterward.

“He’€™s an irreplaceable player so obviously him not being out there, everyone notices, us and them,” Kelly said.

But Kelly insisted that Boston’s flat second period Thursday had nothing to do with Boston getting outscored 2-0 and looking listless on the ice.

“I don’€™t think so. They were ready right from the opening faceoff and we weren’€™t,” Kelly said. “Like I said, he’€™s an irreplaceable player. He plays every situation for us and he’€™s our leader. We’€™re gonna need to fill that void collectively as a group not just one guy is going to be able to do that.

“I though we played desperate but they were up three to one. They may have set back a little bit and we pushed the pace. Yeah, the third period was better but like I said, 20 minutes isn’€™t good enough to win hockey games.”

Without Chara on the ice for over 50 minutes Thursday, Dennis Seidenberg moved up to the top D pairing with Dougie Hamilton. For the time being, it would appear that Seidenberg would be reunited with Hamilton, as was the case often in Hamilton rookie season two years ago.

“I think it’€™s the same thing we talked about when Millsy [Kevan Miller] was out,” Hamilton said. “Obviously it’€™s our best defensemen and the leader of our team, so we have to step up even more. I thought we did okay, I didn’€™t think our second period was good at all, third period we stepped it up, we just couldn’€™t score. I guess we’€™ve had a lot of experience in the past with losing defensemen early in the game and we all knew we had to play a lot, we were gonna play a lot, just keep your legs going.”

Last year, it was Chara who shouldered much of the burden when Seidenberg went down. Now the tables are turned.

“It’€™s always tough when a guy like that goes down,” Seidenberg said. “But, we have to embrace the opportunity and play better and make up for that, if possible.”

“I mean it’€™s definitely hard to see anyone go down, I guess, and when it’€™s your captain it’€™s definitely hard to take,” said Patrice Bergeron. “That being said, we’€™ve dealt through adversity in the past and it shouldn’€™t be an excuse. But he’€™s definitely a big part of our team and our defense. We definitely weren’€™t sharp in the first 40 minutes.”

The irony wasn’t lost on Johnny Boychuk, who came back to Boston just three weeks after the Bruins felt they had enough depth on defense to handle trading him to the Islanders for salary cap relief.

“Obviously, but that’€™s not the case,” Boychuk said of not being in Boston to help replace Chara. “You can’€™t be worrying about that. I just hope that it’€™s not serious with him, because he is a great player and a great leader, and you don’€™t want to see anything bad happen to him. Even if I wasn’€™t his friend, I’€™d still wish that he didn’€™t get hurt.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s game between the Bruins and Islanders in the first period did not return.

The Bruins’€™ latest lost hurt more than usual, as Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s 3-2 loss to the Islanders after just five shifts in the first period.

The Bruins’€™ latest lost hurt more than usual, as Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s 3-2 loss to the Islanders after just five shifts in the first period.

The team announced at the start of the second period that Chara would not be retuning to the game, though they did not specify why. With Chara out, the B’€™s were forced to play with five defensemen the rest of the way.

Chara and Dougie Hamilton were both beaten in front early on in the night as Frans Nielsen took a pass from Josh Bailey and put it behind Niklas Svedberg at 6:21 of the first. Milan Lucic answered back with his first goal of the season, which came off a nice play from linemate Seth Griffith.

The Bruins struggled mightily in the second period, with Kyle Okposo scoring on a particularly rough shift from Matt Bartkowski and Cal Clutterbuck later capitalizing on poor coverage from Boston’€™s third line to make it 3-1.

The third line would make it up, however, as Chris Kelly won an offensive zone faceoff and jumped on a loose puck after a Carl Soderberg shot bounced off Brian Strait and into the slot. Kelly fired it into the net for his second goal of the season, bringing the B’€™s within a goal.

The Bruins proceeded to put forth a feverish comeback bid, spending long stretches in the offensive zone with good looks, but they were unable to out a game-tying goal past former B’s netminder Chad Johnson.

The game marked the return of former Bruin Johnny Boychuk to the Garden. Boychuk received a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute.

With the loss, the Bruins are now 4-5-0 on the season.

Here are some notes from the game:

- Chara played only five shifts, the last of which lasted 1:06. He didn’€™t appear to be hurt at any point during the shift, though he did land a big open-ice hit on Islanders captain John Tavares. After a TV timeout, Chara stayed on the ice to finish his shift.

- Chara was actually having his second consecutive rough game before exiting the game. He was on the ice for a 5-on-5 goal against (Bailey’€™s goal) with Bergeron on the ice for the second straight game and had a minus-10 even strength Corsi in his five shifts on the night.

- It was also another bad night for Patrice Bergeron, who was a minus-2 and could have been a minus-3 if Okposo made more of the opportunity that arose when Bergeron whiffed on a puck high in the offensive zone to send the play the other way.

- Matt Bartkowski had just a woeful shift on Okposo’€™s goal. After Tavares lost him deep in the zone, Bartkowski went to the net, leaving Bergeron to take Tavares. As has become a recurring theme, Bartkowski lost track of the guy going to the net, and Okposo was unencumbered as he stood feet from Bartkowski and batted the rebound from Tavares’€™ shot past Svedberg.

- Having to play with five defensemen when Chara isn’€™t one of them isn’€™t something Boston’€™s struggling defense is at all suited for. Bartkowski was also on the ice for Cal Clutterbuck’€™s goal, as the B’€™s got burned with a pair of Bartkowski and Torey Krug in their own end. The blown coverage on the play, however, fell on a forward in Loui Eriksson.

- Seth Griffith is fitting in more and more with each game. He made a nice play on Lucic’€™s goal, taking a pass from Krejci as the line entered the zone and throwing a pass towards the net from the high in the zone. With Lucic driving to the net with Cal Clutterbuck, the puck went off either Lucic’€™s skate or stick and beat Johnson. The play gave Griffith a two-game point-streak (one goal, one assist) since re-entering the lineup Tuesday.

- The Bruins obviously had to mix and match on defense once Chara left the game, but here was the lineup to begin the game:

Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne

Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid

Svedberg

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s game between the Bruins and Islanders in the first period will not return.

Chara played only five shifts, the last of which lasted 1:06. Chara did not appear to be hurt at any point during the shift, though he did land a big open-ice hit on Islanders captain John Tavares. After a TV timeout, Chara stayed on the ice to finish his shift.

Earlier in the game, Chara saw a Josh Bailey pass to Frans Nielsen beat both himself and Dougie Hamilton on its way to Nielsen, who backhanded the puck into the net. The goal marked the fourth time this season that Chara and Patrice Bergeron have been on the ice for a five-on-five goal against.

More on Chara’€™s status as it becomes available.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

After seeing the way the NHL rallied around Boston in wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Bruins with ties to Ottawa are glad to see the same is being done for Canada’€™s capital city after Wednesday’€™s shooting on Pa