Barry Trotz decided to strike with 11 strikers and seven defenders just to be able to put Johnny Boychuk in 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 since the Islanders kept their season alive with a 2-1 win over extra time over Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday evening.
“He brings a presence for us, comes out, blocks shots, plays hard,” fellow teammate Ryan Pulock said. “We knew when he had the opportunity, he would come in and do his job. Big block at the beginning of death, and just playing hard. That’s what we expect from him, and that’s what he did. ”
With a team of six blocks blocked to go with five hits, Boychuk gave the energetic presence that Trotz counted. In just his first five rounds of the game, the veteran defender 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 lead. .
But for Trotz, Boychuk’s influence on the team has gone far beyond the ice.
“Johnny is one of those unique guys you find,” Trotz said. “He’s old school, he’s one of the friendliest guys you’ve ever met, one of the busiest guys. I think the first round he blocked two or three shots, he got a shot all over his body, you he gives only everything he has night and night.
“It’s without fear.” He’s really a bit of a boss and a father figure for some of the younger guys, he still cares about the people around him. “
Boychuk, 36, finished with 12:04 of ice time with two shots on goal. He was primarily associated with Nick Leddy.
Former Islander Carter Veraghe nearly put the Lightning up 2-1 in the middle of the second period after receiving a pass from Cedric Paquette, who put Scott Mayfield out of the puck in the corner, and his fist in front of Isles goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov.
But Trotz struggled for the outsiders and the goal was disallowed to keep the score at 1-1, allowing the Islanders to finally force overtime.
Trotz went 4-2 on regular season challenges, including 4-0 on offseason challenges. Trotz is now 1-0 up in challenges since the game returned.
Trotz unveiled his top-to-bottom lines to spread out 11 attackers and seven defenders.
Cal Clutterbuck was shot on the front line alongside Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal, but the second line remained the same. Jean-Gabriel Pageau centered the third line between Matt Martin and Jordan Eberle, while Derick Brassard was between Leo Komarov and Michael Dal Colle in the fourth line.