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

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.