With Aaron Ward  out of the lineup for at least a week and Andrew Ference  placed on Long Term Injured Reserve, the 10 games in 18 days stretch that the Bruins successfully skipped their way through has taken its toll on the D-man ranks. The B’s called up Matt Lashoff — who they had just sent back down to Providence on Thanksgiving Day without having played a game in Boston this season — and Johnny Boychuk  to fill the blueline breach, and a defensemen group that was already relying heavily on Matt Hunwick will now insert more rookies into the mix.
The situation also represents an opportunity for both Lashoff and Boychuk — with the offensively gifted Lashoff really needing to take hold of this opportunity after bouncing back and forth with the Black and Gold over the last two years. There’s no doubt that Claude Julien  is creating a competition between Lashoff and Boychuk that he hopes will squeeze the most out of the pair of skilled youngsters. Here’s a conversation with Lashoff about what he’s hoping to accomplish over the next few weeks:
What do you want to show Claude and the rest of the staff while you’re up here? Do you feel like you have to show some things? ML: Oh yeah. I want to show them that my intensity level is up and that I’m really battling for pucks in the defensive zone. So many people talk about the retrieval of pucks and stuff, and I feel like I’ve really gotten better at that stuff. It’s mainly about winning my fair share of one-on-one battles and obviously it’s that type of league now where the puck is moving quicker and skating ability is at a paramount. I think the main thing is you’ve got to separate guys from the puck so you can get things going, and that’s the main thing I’m working on each day and concentrating on harder.
Is that something they told you they wanted you to work on in Providence? ML: Yeah. There were a couple of things and I really tried to bring that mindset into practice and each game at Providence, and when you’re doing that it’s tough to sit down there and want to be here [in Boston]. It’s a good situation because I’m here and I can show everybody first-hand. It’s a good thing because I’m learning every day from the guys in the lineup about they’re doing things and the way Claude wants things done.
It’s a little tougher when you’re down there in Providence and watching the Bruins games every night, but you’re not here to learn first-hand in practice. From a learning basis, to be here and to get the concepts down based on a lot of repetition is a very good thing. It’s tough not playing, but it’s great being here and learning.
It’s got to be tough when you’re down in Providence and you’re watching the way this team is playing, and you’re like ‘Man I would love to be there right now.’ ML: It’s definitely a tough situation especially with all of the pressure that I put on myself before camp started to come in and earn a spot. Unfortunately it didn’t go that way, but I’m here now to make the best of it.
Is it possible that you too much pressure on yourself in camp, and maybe you were trying to do too much to impress people? ML: Maybe in hindsight a little bit, but it’s no excuse. I just need to show everybody that I deserve to be here every day, and it really doesn’t matter what happened when that situation ran out like it did. I’ve got to go from there and I’m happy with the way I’m playing and just go out and have fun every day.
Obviously every year in a guy’s career is pivotal, but did you look on this season as the year when you had to really make that leap with the Bruins? ML: Yeah definitely. It’s a tough thing, but a little adversity never hurt anybody. It’s really helped mentally to get stronger. Obviously you want to be here for the entire year and it’s tough on the head when you get sent down for the first little bit, but I didn’t let it affect me mentally. There’s two things you can do, and I didn’t mope or do that. You can also just grab the situatuon and run with it, and I think that’s what I did.
That’s why I’m hoping that I’m here right now is because of that reason. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I just want to come up here and work hard every day and prove I can play the position.
Who do you look at in this locker room as a guy you can model yourself after, or who you find yourself really studying the way they play? ML: Obviously with Wides’ skating ability and the way he moves the puck it would be him, but I don’t think there’s any one guy I would go to specifically. I’m pulling from everybody, even guys like Axy and the defensive forwards coming back and where they want the D to be when they come back into the zone and the centers and what they want you to react to.
It’s a learning thing because it’s different for each player, especially down in Providence where you learn where people are going and where they want to go and then up here it’s a new set of faces. The main thing is to learn for everybody all along the ice, but as far as style and working on the power play it’s probably more Wides than anybody else.