Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Hot-Hand Boychuk Back with Canes

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 12:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Hot-Hand Boychuk Back with Canes
The front office called Zach Boychuk\'s game with the Canes on Dec. 6 the best of his NHL career. Now he gets another opportunity with the big club.
A quick glance at Zach Boychuk’s stat line from his only game with the Carolina Hurricanes this season on Dec. 6 versus San Jose probably doesn’t tell the entire story: he logged 7:53 of ice time, took two shots, recorded an assist and was a plus-1 in what was a 5-3 win for the Canes over one of the league’s best teams.

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Beyond the numbers, the Canes front office called it the 24-year-old’s best game in a Hurricanes sweater.

“It was definitely good to hear that,” Boychuk said of what Canes Vice President of Hockey Operations Ron Francis told him. “He said I’d get another opportunity soon. Some injuries happen, and I’ve been playing well down there, so it’s nice to be back and hopefully contribute to another win.”

“It was probably his best game he’s played with our hockey club,” head coach Kirk Muller said, echoing Francis’ sentiments. “He went back down and did what he had to do. He had a chance to show an impression, and he did. He’s been here before. He’s been scoring down there, and now he’s got another opportunity and he’s got to make the best of it while he’s here.”

Boychuk leads the Charlotte Checkers with 27 points, including a team-leading 14 goals. Since mid-November, he’s found the back of the net 12 times in 16 games.

“I think this is the best stretch of hockey I’ve played in a long time,” Boychuk said. “I’m playing more intense, skating harder all over the puck and it’s resulting in goals and some solid play.”

Ten of his 14 goals have been scored on the power play.

“I’ve been using my speed quite a bit on the breakouts on the power play,” Boychuk said. “I’ve been kind of chilling out, hanging back-door. I’ve been watching how (Alex) Ovechkin and (Zach) Parise play. They find ways to get open. There are some pretty good players down there – Chris Terry finds me all the time with some great passes, as well as Aaron Palushaj and Brett Sutter.”

His recent play in Charlotte, compounded with his performance in Raleigh earlier in the month, resulted in a merry Christmas for Boychuk, who got the call from Francis on Christmas Eve.

“I’m very excited to be back here, and I’m very excited to get another opportunity. Last opportunity was a little bit short. It was just one game, but I felt like I played pretty good,” Boychuck said. “They said that I’d get another chance soon, and it’s nice that they honored that. Now I’m back.”

Boychuk will draw into the Canes’ lineup on the fourth line with Manny Malhotra and Radek Dvorak to begin tonight’s game. Jiri Tlusty, who posted a two-goal game in Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, had an emergency appendectomy on Tuesday. He’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks of action.

“The surgery went well, so that’s good news. Unfortunately those things happen, but he seems to be recovering well,” Muller said. “He was coming on, too. He was just hitting his stride.”

Justin Peters will make his third straight start in net for the Canes. The 4-3 loss to Columbus on Monday was just his second regulation loss this month and first since Dec. 9. Since Nov. 5, Peters has posted a 1.89 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in 14 games.

“He’s played well, and he’s ready to go,” Muller said. “We’ll hit the restart button with our team here after three days (off).”

In other lineup news, Mike Komisarek will draw into the lineup and pair with Tim Gleason. Komisarek last played on Dec. 5 in Nashville, missing the five subsequent games with a lower-body injury. He has been a healthy scratch in the team’s last three games. Brett Bellemore and Kevin Westgarth will be the team’s healthy extras.

The Canes enter tonight’s contest at 14-15-8 with 36 points, which slots them in seventh in the Metropolitan Division. But, the team is just two points behind third-place Philadelphia. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, leads the Metro Division with a 27-11-1 record and 55 points.

“Well, the last game was a tough one to finish on,” Muller said of the team’s 4-3 loss to Columbus before the holiday break. “We addressed it. Now we have to learn from it and put our focus on tonight’s game.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72