WILMINGTON, MA - When Head Coach Claude Julien addressed media following the Bruins' Friday practice at Ristuccia Arena, he gave an update on defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
"Johnny’s getting an MRI today for his lower back and we’ll probably have some details for you guys tomorrow [Saturday] on that," he said.
The extent of the injury is not yet known, beyond that.
"We don’t know yet. You have to be very cautious making any comments because you never know when it comes to backs."
Julien will next speak with media following Boston's 10:30 a.m. pregame skate on Saturday, before hosting Pittsburgh.
While the severity is unknown, it was still a great sign that Johnny Boychuk was able to fly back with the team Thursday night from Montreal.
The Bruins defenseman had been taken to Montreal General Hospital after colliding with the boards in the first period against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Before being transported, he was able to demonstrate movement in all of his extremities, according to General Manager Peter Chiarelli, in a statement released by the team following the injury.
Boychuk had spent about 10 minutes laboring on the ice following the collision that ensued after a hit by Max Pacioretty. The Habs forward received a minor penalty for boarding, but the injury was more a result of the awkward way Boychuk went into the boards.
Boychuk was taken off the ice on stretcher, making it for a concerning sight.
"You never like to see a stretcher come out, but I got some information on the bench that it was his back and it was basically locked up and they thought it was part of that," said Julien.
"At the same time, and I’m just being honest, I looked at the hit and looked it over and the hit doesn’t indicate the severity of the injury. Sometimes it’s more about how you go into the boards and maybe a little bit of an awkward position and again, if you’re going to preach for one side you have to be honest and preach on the other side too and say that it was a two-minute penalty; and I said that last night."
"That’s all it was – an unfortunate injury. But at the same time, if we start complaining about every little thing, we might as well take the hitting out of our game. So I think more than anything else, it was the awkwardness of how he went into the boards."
Boychuk's teammates were obviously concerned for him as he was taken off the ice.
"I think he’s doing better. I saw him as he was getting carried off and his spirits seemed to be high so that was a good sign," said Chris Kelly.
While the players didn't have any further updates on Boychuk, they all were happy to see he could make the flight back with them.
"We saw him last night and he seemed to be okay, which is a great sign, but I’m not sure how he’s doing today," said Kelly.
"It was kind of scary for a little bit," said fellow blueliner Matt Bartkowski. "But then I saw him on the bus and he was just his same old self; he was in good spirits so hopefully it’s not too serious."
So, what does Johnny bring that will be missed?
Other than his tough-as-nails defensive play, there's a reason he's loved around the locker room.
"I like his attitude, just having him around," smiled Bartkowski. "Especially during games, he’s positive and he works really, really hard and competes every shift and then he keeps it light; keeps the mood funny during the game - it helps."
In his absence, the Bruins' blueline depth will, once again, be tested this season. But they're up for the challenge.
"To me, I’m going to answer easily; it’s no big deal. It’s part of hockey, it’s part of the game, injuries are part of it too," said Julien, who has said on numerous occasions how comfortable he is with the Bruins' organizational depth. "That’s why you have a farm team, that’s why you have extra players and you just go about your business."
The bench boss is also not looking for anyone to use injuries to Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (still out day-to-day with a lower-body injury he re-aggravated) as an excuse for the team's play, depending on how it pans out.
"I use that term ‘excuse,’ that’s not something you utilize. The guys that are replacing our guys are good players and there’s no reason why we should look at it and say, ‘We can’t win because of this or because of that.’ No matter who we have right now, we’re good enough to win."
"And we’re certainly not going into this stretch with any reasons to feel sorry for ourselves or any reason to have excuses. Millsy’s [Kevan Miller] been really good for us, the young kids have been really good for us whether it’s from [Torey] Krug, same thing Bart, and obviously Dougie [Hamilton]; they’ve all been good. So that’s not the issue with our team right now."
"Yeah, it's been tested this year and maybe a week ago or so, we had the same situation," said Bartkowski. "Us younger guys experience-wise want to show the depth of this team and how we can play."
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