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Who Will it "B"? Lashoff or Boychuk?

Boston blueliners await Bruins decision

Thursday, 12.04.2008 / 11:01 AM / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Who Will it \"B\"? Lashoff or Boychuk?
Boychuk played in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche.
Tampa, Florida -- Providence Bruins blueliners Matt Lashoff and Johnny Boychuk are in Florida with the Boston Bruins and, after joining the team on Monday, both men stand a good chance at getting some game action this week as the Black & Gold face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Boychuck, born January 19, 1984, in Edmonton, Alberta, shoots right and his junior club was the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL). The 6’2, 217-pound defenseman was originally drafted by Colorado 61st overall in round two of 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by Boston from Colorado in trade for center Matt Hendricks on June 24, 2008.
 
Last season, Boychuk spent most of season with Lake Erie of the AHL and finished second in scoring among defenseman and led the Lake Erie blueliners with 17 power play points. He made his National Hockey League debut for Colorado January 5, 2008 against the New York Islanders, but went scoreless in four games spanning two call-ups.

This season, he shared the Providence lead in points with 23 with forwards Martins Karsums and Martin St. Pierre through 22 games. He had posted four goals and a club-high 19 assists and, at the time of his call up, led all AHL defensemen in both points and assists. Boychuck also has six multiple-point outings to his credit this season, two point-streaks of at least four games and leads all P-Bruins with 15 power play points (3goals, 12assists).

Boychuk, who was on fire in Providence, also hopes to bring that success to NHL ice, soon.

“We’ve been playing really well,” said Boychuk. “Last weekend we had three (games) in three (nights) and we won all three.

“It was good when we came together to win those three games…now we’re in first place again.”

But Boychuk nearly swooned at the thought of wearing an Original Six jersey on NHL ice.

“Boston is a great place and I’m just happy to be here,” he said with a laugh and a shake of his head.

Lashoff, is already known around the Hub of Hockey. Born September 29, 1986, in East Greenbush, New York, he shoots left and his last amateur club was the Kitchener Rangers (OHL). The puck-moving defenseman is 6’2 and 205-pounds and was drafted by Boston 22nd overall in round one of 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
       
Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Lashoff, left, is congratulated by teammate Boston Bruins left wing Marco Sturm of Germany after scoring a goal against the Atlanta Thrashers during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Boston on Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
In two seasons with Providence, Lashoff has shown flashes of brilliance on the blueline but has not yet been able to permanently crack the Boston lineup. He scored his first career NHL goal December 31, 2007 against the Atlanta Thrashers and registered his first NHL multi-point game with two assists March 25 in Toronto. He made his NHL debut for Boston two seasons ago (October 26, 2006 against Montreal) and recorded his first NHL point with an assist versus Buffalo on November 2 of that same year.

This year with the P-Bruins, Lashoff has four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 18 games -- third among AHL defensemen at the time of his promotion. He also enjoyed a five-game point-streak from October 12-24 and enjoyed his best game of the season on November 14 against the Worcester Sharks when he scored a goal and added three assists for a four-point game and a plus-four rating.

“It’s a good thing that I’ve had opportunity to come up (earlier this year),” said Lashoff. “I’ve been working on some things they’ve been talking to me about – improving on those things each day.

“Obviously, it’s a good opportunity and another step in the right direction.

“Hopefully, I’ll get into games…and embrace the opportunity to grab ‘the bull by the horns’,” he said.

Obviously, both men bring a lot of “upside” to the back end, but as of Wednesday afternoon, before the Bruins left for Florida, Boston Bruins head coach Julien had not made a decision on who would face the Bolts.

“I’d rather keep that decision for (Thursday),” he said. “I’ve got a long flight ahead of me and I’ll start thinking about different things.”

Asked what might tip the scales, Coach Julien seemed to point in the direction of Lashoff.

"Lash has been here, this is Boychuk’s first trip – (but) he’s played for Colorado," he said. "So, you can read between the lines a little bit (as) to where I am leaning towards, but to make that final decision I think I’d rather allow myself a little more time."

Updated, Thursday at 3:04 p.m: As of yet, there is no word on whether Johnny Boychuk or Matt Lashoff will be in the lineup tonight. However, Bruins head coach Claude Julien indicated that he knew who would be playing against the Lightning. But Julien also said that he had not told either man their status, so news about the lineup would wait until gametime.

Look for news about the Bruins lineup late Thursday evening on BostonBruins.com.

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