Johnny Boychuk suffered a mild concussion when Chris Neil practically checked him into another province last Saturday in Ottawa. One of the criteria for the mild classification was that Boychuk could remember the hit. In fact, it was a blast the defenseman will not soon forget.
“I just felt like I got run over by a train,’’ Boychuk said. “It was a good hit. Just unfortunate that I didn’t see him.’’
Despite the ferocity of Neil’s check, Boychuk has been progressing well. Yesterday, he participated in an optional morning skate at TD Garden. The day before, Boychuk went for a solo skate at Ristuccia Arena under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
Boychuk didn’t skate very hard on Wednesday, but yesterday he ramped up the intensity. Shortly after the session, Boychuk reported his satisfaction of how he’s bouncing back.
“I haven’t even been out a week,’’ Boychuk said of his progress. “Of course I’m happy with it.’’
Boychuk missed his second straight game last night, but if he continues to progress, he could practice today with his teammates. There’s even a possibility that Boychuk could return for one or all of the upcoming games: tomorrow against the Islanders, Sunday at the Rangers, or Tuesday against the Maple Leafs.
Boychuk had never suffered a concussion before last Saturday. On the play, Tim Thomas chipped the puck his way. As Boychuk started the breakout along the right boards, he considered his options. It would have been too sharp an angle to try a hinge pass back to Zdeno Chara. Benoit Pouliot was covered. An instant before Boychuk sent a pass to the middle for Carter Camper, Neil tucked his shoulder and pancaked the defenseman. Boychuk hit the back of his head on the ice.
“I remember getting the puck from Timmy and looking up to see where my centerman was to make the pass,’’ Boychuk said. “Then, boom, more or less.’’
The violence of Neil’s check and Boychuk’s rapid recovery underscore how unique each concussion can be. On Jan. 22 when Nathan Horton suffered a mild concussion, Tom Sestito checked him from the side with nothing approaching the intensity of Neil’s hit. Yet Horton sat out his 16th straight game last night. Horton had a flare-up of postconcussion syndrome after he resumed skating on his own Feb. 5.
It has been an interesting week for Brian Rolston. On Monday, Rolston became a two-time Bruin when he was traded from the Islanders. Last night, Rolston squared off against New Jersey, his other two-time employer. On Saturday, Rolston will play against the Islanders.
“It’s been a whirlwind,’’ Rolston said. “From getting traded, getting here, kind of getting settled, getting the first game under your belt. But it’s been a lot of fun. I’m excited to be here with a team that’s had a lot of success and in a playoff run. You never know how many chances you’re going to get at playing for the Stanley Cup. I certainly hope that’s the case here.’’
Last night, Rolston skated alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, landed one shot in 14:44 of ice time, and was called for tripping in the first period.
Defenseman Greg Zanon made his Bruins debut, wearing No. 6, and began the game alongside Adam McQuaid on the third pairing. Zanon played with different partners beginning late in the second period, when the Bruins went to a five-man rotation.
In 14:58 of efficient play, Zanon had one shot, three hits, and three blocked shots. In the first period, Zanon laid a lick on David Clarkson that sent the hard-nosed winger onto his back. Zanon’s transition from Minnesota to Boston appeared seamless, as he played a simple, straightforward game.
“It felt good,’’ Zanon said. “Getting into the game, finding my way through, and playing with a lot of guys tonight was good. I just played my game, played a simple game. Moving the puck quick, physical, trying to block a lot of shots. Just doing what we could do to help win the game tonight.’’
The Bruins lost defenseman Andrew Ference midway through the third period because of a lower-body injury. After leaving the ice once, Ference returned briefly. During a TV timeout, he took a spin on the ice, then retreated back to the locker room. Coach Claude Julien said he might know the severity of Ference’s injury today . . . Joe Corvo was benched for parts of the second and third periods after being on the ice for New Jersey’s first two goals. Corvo didn’t play for the final 5:57 of the second, and didn’t begin his first shift of the third until 5:45. “Obviously, he had a bit of a tough outing,’’ Julien said. “We used him again. Not the easiest night for Joe. But in the end we needed him, so he came back out there.’’ . . . Shawn Thornton and Eric Boulton squared off in a heavyweight battle at 2:11 of the first, both landing heavy shots. Thornton went to the locker room afterward and appeared to have a cut on his forehead . . . Bergeron won 16 of 20 faceoffs . . . Zanon and Marek Zidlicky played for the Wild in their 2-0 win over the Bruins Feb. 19, and the former teammates played against each other last night. New Jersey acquired Zidlicky Feb. 24 for Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, Stephane Veilleux, a 2012 second-round pick, and a 2013 conditional pick . . . NBC will air Sunday’s game against the Rangers. The network will also carry the Bruins-Penguins game March 11. Puck drop for both games is 12:30 p.m.