Johnny Boychuk provides big lift for Islanders in return to lineup

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Barry Trotz decided to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen just so he could get Johnny Boychuk into the lineup.

And Boychuk, who hadn’t seen game action since Game 1 of the play-in round against the Florida Panthers on Aug. 1, was a major presence as the Islanders kept their season alive with a 2-1 double-overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

“He brings a presence for us, he goes out there, he blocks shots, he plays tough,” fellow defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We knew when he was getting his opportunity, he was going to step in and do his job. Big block early on the kill, and just playing hard. That’s what we expect from him, and that’s what he did.”

With a team-high six blocked shots to go along with five hits, Boychuk delivered the energetic presence that Trotz was counting on. In just his first five shifts of the game, the veteran defenseman came up with three big blocks, stopping the puck once with his ribs and another with his skate blade, to help preserve a 1-0 early lead.

But to Trotz, Boychuk’s influence on the team has gone well beyond the ice.

Johnny Boychuk
Johnny BoychukNHLI via Getty Images

“Johnny is one of those unique guys that you come across,” Trotz said. “He’s old school, he’s one of the most likeable guys that you’re ever going to meet, one of the most committed guys. I think the first shift he blocked two or three shots, he’s got welts all over his body, just gives you everything he has night in and night out.

“He’s fearless. He’s really a little bit of a leader and father figure for some of the younger guys, he’s always taking care of people around him.”

The 36-year-old Boychuk finished with 12:04 of ice time with two shots on goal. He was primarily paired with Nick Leddy.


Former Islander Carter Veraghe nearly put the Lightning on top 2-1 halfway through the second period after receiving a pass from Cedric Paquette, who bodied Scott Mayfield off the puck in the corner, and wristing it past Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov.

But Trotz challenged for offsides and the goal was overturned to keep the score 1-1, allowing the Islanders to ultimately force overtime.

Trotz went 4-2 on regular season challenges, including 4-0 on offside challenges. Trotz is now 1-0 in challenges since play returned.


Trotz shuffled up his lines from top to bottom in order to deploy 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Cal Clutterbuck was bumped to the first line alongside Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal, but the second line stayed the same. Jean-Gabriel Pageau centered the third line between Matt Martin and Jordan Eberle, while Derick Brassard was in the middle of Leo Komarov and Michael Dal Colle on the fourth line.

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