Zach Boychuk’s offensive breakout has earned him another chance in the NHL.
With his two-goal performance against Rockford on Thursday happening to coincide with injuries to Drayson Bowman and Patrick Dwyer during Carolina’s game in Nashville, the Hurricanes recalled their 2008 first-round pick to play in Friday’s home game against San Jose. That would mark his 86th career NHL game and first since suiting up for Nashville on March 19 of last season.
After scoring two goals in his first 13 games of the season, Boychuk has seven in his last nine, including four in his last three, to claim sole possession of the team lead. He also leads the team with 19 points in 22 games and is tied for first in the AHL with seven power-play goals.
Following Thursday’s game, he credited his resurgence to a conversation he had with Carolina Director of Forward Development Cory Stillman during the Checkers’ road trip to Toronto last month.
“It made me realize that you have to be excited to come to the rink every day,” said Boychuk. “There’s going to be times where it’s tough and the team’s losing, but you’ve got to almost find a way to fake it. The confidence starts coming your way and you find your stride back.”
That’s certainly where he is now, having formed an effective line with fellow Checkers veterans Chris Terry and Brett Sutter, each of whom had two assists on Thursday.
“He’s doing what he needs to do,” said coach Jeff Daniels following that game. “He’s a goal scorer, and he’s scoring goals for us, his compete level is higher and all the things he needs to do when he’s not scoring is coming around. We’ve talked enough over the last couple of weeks that he understands he needs to be a leader on this team, and right now he’s stepping up.”
It remains to be seen how long this NHL stay for Boychuk, who waited until the eve of training came before re-signing with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent, will last. At the time of his recall, the team had not released updates on either Bowman or Dwyer.
Boychuk becomes the fourth forward recalled to Carolina this season, joining Manny Malhotra, Terry and Elias Lindholm, in that order. Should he not return immediately, the Checkers may need to find another forward to play in Saturday’s rematch against Rockford depending on the health of Jared Staal, who missed the previous contest due to an unspecified injury. Staal did not practice Friday.