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

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.