BOSTON – Joe Corvo got by with a little help – and a
little lumber – from his friends Thursday night.
Using a stick borrowed from fellow defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s stash, Corvo had his best game as a Bruin, dishing three assists and notching a plus-1 rating in an efficient 19:50 of ice time in Boston’s 6-3 win over Edmonton.
“I’ve been kind of feeling it probably the last three games, like something was going to happen,” Corvo said. “I think I’ve been a little more calm out there, making things happen. I was just waiting for that big night to happen, and it was tonight.”
Corvo had four points, all on assists, entering Thursday’s game, and had amassed an even plus-minus rating in 13 games. Tuesday against the Islanders, he had an assist, five shots and a plus-2, and it was apparently a sign of things to come. He’s now plus-5 in the Bruins’ four-game win streak, including a plus-4 night in the shellacking of Toronto on Nov. 5.
“Obviously he’s using one of my sticks, there’s lots of magic in there,” Boychuk said with a smirk as Corvo stood within earshot nearby in the Bruins’ dressing room. “I think last game, so he’s got four points in two games with my stick. He’s using all my magic.”
Corvo first put Boychuk’s magic stick to work 3:50 into the second period, and in the waning seconds of a power play. A good Bruins possession brought the puck to Corvo, who laced a shot into traffic, and Brad Marchand tipped it past Devan Dubnyk to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
“I saw that (Marchand) was kind of in the mid to high slot,” Corvo said. “A lot of times when you feather one in from there and you keep it high it either blows over the goalie’s shoulders or your forward gets a tip on it. It just turned out that he has good hands and tipped it in.”
Less than three minutes later, Corvo picked up another helper, and while there’s an argument that Tyler Seguin’s game-winner should be an unassisted marker since it actually went in the net off of Corey Potter’s skate, as of Thursday night it was assist number two for Corvo.
The third assist was a no-doubter, though, and one of the finest plays in a night full of them for the Black and Gold. Minutes after the Oilers wore the Bruins’ penalty killers down long enough for Ryan Smyth to cut Boston’s lead to 4-3, Corvo shadowed Nathan Horton on a rush to the net, grabbed a flubbed pass off his stick, and fired it back across the slot to Milan Lucic for a tap-in.
Corvo’s positioning on the play made him for all intents and purposes a fourth forward, and that’s where he can do the most for his new team.
“That’s his game, and he’s come in here and done a great job,” Marchand said. “He’s great on the PP, getting the puck up to the forwards and making that first pass. It’s great when he’s rushing up the ice and giving us another option.”
It wasn’t an immediate fit for Corvo, who after picking up three assists in the first six games went six more games without any points. His ice time was also lessened during most of those games, including a season-low 16:49 against his old team, Carolina, on Oct. 18.
Over the last three contests, however, he’s averaged a healthy 19:25 on ice and ventured more and more into the offensive zone – a sign, Bruins coach Claude Julien said, that he’s becoming comfortable with the team’s system and his role within it.
“He’s understanding our system better – not that he didn’t at the beginning, but you’ve got to kind of go into a game, and you can’t be thinking about everything you’re doing out there,” Julien said. “It’s got to be done instinctively, and that’s what he’s starting to do now. He’s just reacting to a situation instead of over-thinking it.”
Or maybe it’s just the borrowed stick, which Corvo said has a stiffer flex than his own models. But the guy who gave it to him said Corvo’s just developing a knack for knowing when to put himself in position to make offensive plays.
“There’s a time and place to pinch as well, and lately he’s had the opportunity to pinch down and create more offense,” Boychuk said.
“Sometimes during the game you’re not going to be able to do that, but lately it’s been happening, and he’s been reading the pinches well, getting his shots through and seeing guys who are open. We’re really glad he’s been playing really well lately.”