The 2011-12 season was clearly the best season Johnny Boychuk has played as a pro. He didn't put up huge numbers, however the intangibles he brought each and every night where a huge part of why the Bruins were one of the best defensive teams in the league. Boychuk became more of the player that the Bruins were expecting in his short career. While he was a liability defensively in the previous seasons, he became one of the most reliable blue liners the Bruins had to offer.
Boychuk only scored 5 goals and added 10 assist last season. He had one of the hardest shots in the league, but just can't seem to find the back of the net more often. If he continues to play top caliber defense, these low point totals can be forgotten about. He had career highs in hits with 145, blocked shots with 133 and a +/- of 27. It is hard to imagine he only missed 5 games all season with his physical and no regard for his own body play. If Johnny Boychuk can stay healthy he will be a key component for the future success of the Bruins .
A lot of Boychuk's success last season can be attributed to being paired with Zdeno Chara. Playing with Chara allowed Boychuk to play with the edge that he enjoys playing with and allowed him to take more chances laying out his opponents. Pairing him with Chara gave Boychuk more room to play physical and take the body more because Chara is there to back his rugged play if he makes a mistake or misses with the big hit. Not only does he block shots and hit hard he will drop the gloves if need be as well. Just ask Florida Panther Jack Skille how Boychuk's knuckles taste when he landed 12 bombs on him in a single scrap. Boychuk physical play almost cost him a number of games when on April 4th where he threw a hit on Penguins Arron Asham which buckled his knee in an ugly scene. What looked to be a season ending injury only kept him out for a few games, proving yet again how tough Johnny Boychuk is.
This upcoming season it is expected Boychuk will probably not see a lot of ice time with Chara. With the anticipation that Dougie Hamilton will join big club this season it would make sense to have him mentored by playing along side Chara. That would leave the possibility of a Boychuk/Dennis Seidenberg duo for most of the season. If Boychuk can replicate or even find the scoreboard a bit more the Bruins will once again have one of the top defense in the league. Chara/Hamilton, Seidenberg/Boychuk and a solid as can be third pairing of Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid, does not look too shabby at all.
Give Johnny Boychuk an A- for a career year.