BOSTON -- With the division locked up, the No. 2 seed in the East secure and three meaningless games left in the regular season, the Bruins entered Tuesday’s matchup with the visiting Penguins with one objective in mind. It’s the same one they’ll carry into Thursday’s tilt in Ottawa. Ditto for their finale on Saturday against the Sabres.
The mission? No matter what happens, make sure no one gets hurt. On Tuesday, much to their dismay, they failed.
Midway through the third period, Aaron Asham collided with Johnny Boychuk awkwardly near Pittsburgh’s defensive blue line, as the Penguins forward’s right leg crashed into the Bruins d-man’s left knee. Boychuk remained down for a few minutes before being helped off the ice and subsequently struggling to get down the runway to the B’s locker room.
“Well, it’s always tough when you see a guy laying on the ice like that and he’s not getting up, or even moving out of the position,” said teammate Milan Lucic. “You know, three games left, now two, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt, especially not a guy like him who plays a big role on this team. Hopefully he’s going to get through whatever injury he has. He’s one of the tougher guys that I know, so he’s going to do whatever he can to make sure that he is right.”
Prior to a recent switch that saw Dennis Seidenberg jump up to flank Zdeno Chara, Boychuk had been a fixture on Boston’s top defensive pairing for nearly the entirety of the season.
“Well, those kinds of injuries, you’ve got to kind of let the night go by and the next day you get a better idea,” coach Claude Julien said after his team’s 5-3 loss. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed right now that it’s not bad news, so that’s all we can hope for right now.”
With practice slated for Wednesday morning, odds are high that’s when the coach will have a better grasp on the extent of the injury.
“He got hit on the side of the leg. It could be a variety of things in that area, but he didn’t feel too bad,” said Julien. “But that’s why I said, when you’re still warmed up, you don’t feel it as much. The next day, you get a better idea. So we’re going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and then probably get a clear idea of what his situation is.”
With Adam McQuaid already banged up and the team seemingly not overflowing with faith in Joe Corvo’s game at this juncture, the fact that the Bruins have two reliable NHL defensemen in both Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon makes overcoming hurdles like this seem a lot less daunting.
However, that doesn’t mean the Bruins won’t be hoping and praying that No. 55 isn’t the recipient of bad news on Wednesday with the postseason just a week away.
“You kind of jump a bit and get a little nervous, but hopefully he’s okay,” Tyler Seguin said. “I haven’t seen him or talked to him yet, but hopefully it looked like maybe a Charlie horse. I don’t know if it was knee-on-knee, but I hope he’s okay.”