Take a Number: Now Serving Old Time Hockey
Something happened on February 4th, 2013. Something that I personally wish would happen more often. It’s exciting, it’s good for the game of hockey, and it was effective. Johnny ‘Destroychuk’ Boychuk of the Boston Bruins took exception to a hit he received from David Booth of the Vancouver Canucks.
Johnny Boychuk on borderline hits firing him up: “You get a little ticked off & you want to just crush people. I mean its not a big secret”
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) February 5, 2014
Crush people Johnny did. More specifically, he crushed Booth. Twice. You’ve likely heard the expression “he took his number” before, well this is a classic example and I love it. I’ve grabbed a few clips from the game (stick-tap to @dafoomie, check out his Bruins videos on YouTube) to illustrate just how effective this is.
We’ll start with the hit by Booth on Boychuk. You can see that Booth rides a little high and Boychuk takes a gloved shot at him almost immediately. I don’t think there is anything illegal in the hit, but Boychuk has a right to be unhappy with him jumping high on him.
Boychuk follows Booth to the corner and gives him another gloved shot to the back.
The importance of this sequence is that the gloves do NOT drop. Boychuk continues following the play. After knocking Booth down he is making his way back to the low face-off circle.
The Bruins are pinned in their zone at this point, and it has been a long shift. Play has continued and the Bruins are changing out players one by one. Boychuk collects the puck and makes a beautiful stretch pass to Paille, fresh on the ice, who gets a breakaway and scores.
By not trying to start a fight, or crossing the line and committing a penalty, the Bruins are ultimately able to score. Boychuk notches his 13th assist of the season, tying Chara for second amongst Bruins defense men.
There is a general problem that has been building in the NHL where guys want to drop the glove over every big hit. I have no problem with the occasional fight, but hockey is a contact sport. Big hits happen. Take their number and play on. That’s exactly what Boychuk does, and it’s where this story gets really good.
With about 20 seconds left in the second period the Bruins are making an offensive stand. Booth chases down a puck that was sent around the boards and Boychuk is pinching to keep possession. Boychuk sees Booth and lays him out with a beautiful stand up hit. Retaliation hit number one of the night.
Then in the third period Boychuk lines Booth up again as he is carrying the puck for a Canucks offensive rush. Reilly Smith is back checking and trying to angle Booth towards the boards. This gives Boychuk the opportunity to get speed and positioning to deliver a perfect hip check, breaking up the play. Retaliation hit number two of the night.
Boychuk is able to punish Booth for what he felt was a bad hit, while keeping himself out of the penalty box, and even contributing offensively as well.
This style of play is why I love Boychuk so much. He is one of the best open ice hitters and I believe he is underrated on this Bruins team that typically outshines him with Chara and Seidenberg. Seidenberg’s season ending injury puts Boychuk’s play into the spotlight.
Coach, on Boychuk: “I don’t expect him to give me more, bc that means he hasn’t given me enough…I just need him to do his job well” ^CS
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 6, 2014
The Coach says it all, Boychuk plays at this level already. It’s nothing new.
Take a number, Boychuk will see you soon.