Jiri Tlusty’s emergency appendectomy has thrust Zach Boychuk into the Carolina Hurricanes’ lineup.
The Canes said Friday that Tlusty had surgery Tuesday and will be sidelined for two to three weeks. The forward was placed on injured reserve Friday, and Boychuk was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.
Canes coach Kirk Muller also said defenseman Jay Harrison, injured Dec. 21 against Tampa Bay, has a concussion and is out indefinitely.
“I’m very excited to be back here,” Boychuk said. “The last opportunity was a little bit short – just one game. I felt like I played pretty good, and they said I’d get another chance, and it’s nice they honored that and I’m back.”
Boychuk was first recalled from the Checkers for a Dec. 6 game against the San Jose Sharks, earning an assist in a 5-3 victory at PNC Arena. He then returned to the Checkers and began piling up points.
Boychuk, 24, has a team-best 14 goals for Charlotte, scoring 12 in his past 16 games. He has 27 points in 29 games for the Checkers, also a team high.
“I think this is the best stretch of hockey I’ve played in a long time,” Boychuk said. “I’m playing more intense and skating harder, and it’s resulting in goals and some solid play.”
Muller said Friday that Boychuk’s game against San Jose might have been the best he has seen him play. Boychuk said he also got positive feedback after the game from Ron Francis, the Canes’ vice president of hockey operations.
Boychuk was at left wing on the fourth line at Friday’s morning skate as the Canes prepared to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. He said he has been used at left and right wing with the Checkers, offering flexibility when recalled to the big club.
Boychuk, Carolina’s first-round draft pick in 2008, may be able to help the Canes’ ailing power play. Before his call-up, he ranked first in the AHL with 10 power-play goals and was tied for first with 14 power-play points.
Boychuk said he has watched video of such players as Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild, noting the way they’re able to find openings around the net on the power play.
“I’ve been using my speed quite a bit on the breakouts on the power play. I’ve had a few breakaway goals that way,” Boychuk said.