Boston Bruins

Hnidy ready to keep defense corps rolling

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Hnidy ready to keep defense corps rolling

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- With the news that 6-foot-5 defenseman Adam McQuaid could be out temporarily because of a sprained neck after a face-first tumble into the Wells Fargo Center boards in Game 2, its up to the rest of the Bruins defensemen to pick up the slack.

The Bruins will replace McQuaid with the similarly rugged, but more experienced, Shane Hnidy if McQuaid cant play in Game 3 in Boston.

McQuaid's injury appears to be a storm the Bruins can weather. Elevating their game is exactly what the rest of the Bs defense corps has done since making some needed changes after dropping the first two games to the Canadiens.

Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were paired together in Game 3 as minute-munching monsters, and theyve been dynamite together ever since.

Chara seems to have finally regained all his strength and tenacity after losing 10 pounds over the course of 24 hours while suffering through severe dehydration from a mystery virus that caused him to miss Game 2. Hes just started winding up for his signature slap shots again and its probably not a coincidence the Bs power play looked as good as its been in weeks in the second period Monday night.

A Chara bomb from the high point that Milan Lucic nearly forced through the pads of Sergei Bobrovsky was as close as the Bs have come to potting a power-play score in more than a month.

You have to do whatever it takes to win and its nice to find a way to win and come home with a 2-0 lead, said Tomas Kaberle. The only thing that was missing in the second period power play was the goal. We had like three or four pretty good scoring chances there. We just have to stick with it and believe that eventually its going to go in.

Seidenberg has been nothing short of a revelation while elevating his game in his first postseason with the Bruins.

Seidenberg has six points and a plus-5 in nine playoff games and rebounded nicely from a minus-4 in the first two games against the Habs. Seidenberg is averaging 28:34 of ice time while pushing up over 36 minutes of ice in the Game 5 double-overtime win over Montreal and the Game 2 o.t. victory over the Flyers.

I would say Seidenberg is a horse, said coach Claude Julien. Hes strong and you look at the minutes hes been logging as well. He doesnt get tired. He can take it. Hes a big, strong individual and he competes well.

When we acquired him, the one thing we really knew about him is that he was a really big-game player. Hes proven that and even more so. When you look at the way hes performed, you can see how much we missed him in the playoffs last year when he was injured.

Seidenberg isnt about to argue with the loads of ice time being heaped upon him, and his confident play in both zones helped save at least two goals during the crazy moments of the third period and overtime Monday night. After one play where Seidenberg contorted himself to coax a floating puck away from the Boston net, Tim Thomas grabbed the Bs defensemens helmet and thanked him for doing such a good job clearing things away from the cage.

If you ask anybody, theres nobody thats going to say no to more ice time, and if the coach wants you out there it shows that he has confidence in you, said Seidenberg. The more you play, the less you think and thats always a good thing.

Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference have been just as solid as the No. 3 and No. 4 defensemen behind Seidenberg and Chara.

Boychuk was a dominant force in the Game 2 win Monday night. He led the Bruins with seven hits, threw down five body checks and used his booming point shot on the power play to help generate a few offensive chances where they hadnt existed before.

His charging-bull body check on Braydon Coburn behind the Flyers net sent a physical message that the Bs were ready to battle, and it also helped loosen up the Flyers defenseman for the key turnover in overtime that led to David Krejcis game-winner.

The Bruins have realized that punishing physicality takes its toll over a game and series, and can wear down a team playing without their biggest blueline workhorse in Chris Pronger.

Im just trying to play my game, keep it simple and when I have a chance to make my hit then Im going to do it, said Boychuk. Theres such an atmosphere in the playoffs that you can feel it when you get to the rink, and it elevates your game.

Its an amazing phenomenon that Chara and Kaberle considered Bostons best two offensive defensemen have combined for four assists in 18 games during the playoffs, but Ference and Seidenberg have combined for 10 points and plus-11 in 18 games.

Hnidy is now being asked to keep up that whatever-it-takes mentality as he steps in for McQuaid. His task Wednesday night is made a little easier by the fact that only the fourth-line trio of Shawn Thornton, DanielPaille and Gregory Campbell are averaging less ice time in Bostonsnine playoff games than the 12:48 posted by McQuaid.

Hnidyplayed 4:13 and fought with Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski whilefilling in for an ill Zdeno Chara during Game 2 against the Canadiens. He playedthree games in the final two weeks of the season and averaged littlemore than 14 minutes per game while putting together a minus-2 in thosecameo appearances after missing the seasons first six months followingshoulder surgery.

Steve Kampfer also skated on the Garden icefor the first time in weeks on Tuesday after rehabbing from a kneeinjury, but Julien said the young defenseman is stilla while away from returning.

So it falls on Hnidy to fill the McQuaid spot.

Thatswhy Im here. There are a lot of people working behind the scenes tomake sure that were ready for situations like this and youve got tobe prepared, said Hnidy. Its unfortunate thats where were at, butits up to me to be ready to go.

Im thankful Ive been aroundfor a while, so I know what to expect and once I get out there, thegame will start taking care of itself. I know whats expected, I knowwhat the pace is going to be like and youve just got to elevate yourgame.

Just like the rest of his fellow defensemen.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bjork faces 'good test' in first real audition with Bergeron and Marchand

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Bjork faces 'good test' in first real audition with Bergeron and Marchand

BRIGHTON, Mass – After a week of wondering what exactly 21-year-old Anders Bjork would look like skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the former Notre Dame standout will get his chance in a prime forward spot tonight against a stacked Flyers lineup.

With Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Ivan Provorov, Radko Gudas and Jakub Voracek among others expected to play for the Flyers, it will be a good NHL-style test for Bjork when the Bruins and Flyers suit up for the exhibition game at TD Garden. 

The first-year pro already has a goal while playing in more of a third-line spot with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey on Monday night, but tonight’s audition with two of the world’s best players is exactly the kind of thing any young hockey player dreams about.

“I’ve been learning a lot from their example, and a lot from them just talking to us young guys,” said Bjork, who had 21 goals and 52 points in 39 dominant games for the Fighting Irish last season. 

“One of the biggest things is just consistency, and bringing your best in every drill and every shift in a game. You see how intense they are and how much they want to win every puck battle.

“It was definitely helpful to play in a preseason game [already], and get that confidence going. I hope to build on that. It’s crazy being able to play with players of that caliber [of Bergeron and Marchand]. Obviously, they’re some of the best players in the world. I’m just trying to do my best and keep up with them. I try to help them in practice any way I can.”

On Thursday night, Bjork will officially go from the title of practice helper to showing how his skating speed, high-level offensive instincts and hockey smarts can assist Bergeron and Marchand in a game.

“You can see that he’s a dynamic player who is willing to attack,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, in an apt description of exactly what he’s looking for in his system on the ice.

On paper and in camp practices, it has looked like a comfortable fit between with one of the NHL’s best tandems and much more of a Tyler Seguin/Reilly Smith-type fit than a Brett Connolly third-wheel kind of winger.

It got to a point with Connolly on their wing that Bergeron and Marchand were basically playing two-man hockey. That’s perfectly understandable when you’ve got the kind of chemistry that those two have built while scoring hundreds of goals in six years together, but it’s undoubtedly preferable to get a right wing who can bury some of the prime scoring chances he’s sure to enjoy playing with two All-World forwards.

Bergeron doesn’t anticipate the need for much hand-holding with Bjork and that should absolutely be the case if he wants to be one of those B’s prospects who makes an immediate impact.

“It’s been going well in practices, but obviously you want to translate that over to games on the ice against real opponents,” said Bergeron. “It’s going to be a good test for us. Hopefully, we’re out there talking a lot and we see some things that we can build off of.

“I like it. It’s nice to be able to help as much as possible. Most of the time the guys that are on our wing don’t need that much help. But you’re always there if need be, and it’s always nice to share your experiences and what you see on the ice.”

Thus far in camp, the young forward prospects have been a dominant factor while scoring and looking like they belong. The degree of difficulty rises with each passing preseason game and it will be a great gauge for Bjork’s readiness in a premium spot when he takes the ice with Boston’s dynamic duo. 


 

Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

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Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating Jimmy Kimmel more with each passing day.

*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on his move to The Athletic. Here he details why he’ll now be covering the Sharks for them.

*Joffrey Lupul has apologized for intimating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are “cheating” when it comes to player injuries.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Loui Eriksson looking to bounce back with the Vancouver Canucks after a tough first year there. He’ll probably be better than he was last season, but one thing I learned about Eriksson during his time in Boston is that you’re not going to see his best unless there’s a reason for him to be at his best. Sitting in Vancouver in the middle of a comfortable, big money contract on a mediocre-to-bad hockey team isn’t exactly going to ratchet up the urgency.

*Tampa Bay defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev has “NHL written all over him” after a strong start to training camp with the Lightning. That’s music to management’s ears down there after they gave up Jonathan Drouin for him in the offseason.

*Nick Cotsonika chronicles the “big first step” that the NHL has made into China with an exhibition game there between the Kings and Canucks.

*This blog post pokes fun at Don LaGreca for a rant about geometry, but I agree with his overall point that the vast majority of people choose to like sports exactly because it doesn’t include these complex mathematical formulas that the fancy stats brigade is trying to introduce into the sports world with more and more force.