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.