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The Sheriff to the Rescue

04.18.09 at 11:38 pm ET
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The moment that the Boston Bruins found out that Matt Hunwick had his spleen removed on Saturday afternoon, Shane Hnidy knew his time had come to provide the best kind of boost.

And that’s what he did when he fired a shot from the high slot past an unsuspecting Carey Price. The second period goal was arguably the biggest of the game since it came five minutes after Alex Kovalev brought the Canadiens within one goal, 2-1.

“I went in for a screen and was just trying to get the puck off and it went in the net,” Hnidy said following Boston’s 5-1 win at the Garden that but the B’s up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

“Shane Hnidy has been a good player for us all year,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Coming into our lineup and doing the job he did is to his credit because he’s worked hard in practice and kept himself sharp. And the minute he’s had the opportunity, he’s come in and played well.

“The fact he was rewarded with a goal,  I was really happy for him, and that’s the kind of team we have right now,” Julien said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Matt Hunwick, NHL, Shane Hnidy

The rout is on for the Bruins, 5-1, at TD Banknorth Garden

04.18.09 at 9:04 pm ET
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18:52: Tom Kostopoulos just got leveled by Mark Stuart in a mid-ice hit while he was stretching for a puck entering the B’s zone.

11:46: Knockout hit by Mark Stuart delivered on Saku Koivu as Blake Wheeler chased him up the right side of the ice. The B’s were outhit 24-16 through two periods by the Canadiens, but it really doesn’t seem that way out on the ice tonight.

Jaroslav Halak in the game for the Habs at the start of the third period.

9:57: Now this game has had everything. Genltemanly Patrice Bergeron, who is up for the Masterson Trophy this season, dropped the gloves with Josh Gorges and completely pounded the Montreal defenseman with a series of strong left hands. That was his first career fighting major. What a time to pick.

Completely expecting the Canadiens to run somebody here in the final few minutes.

4:32: And just as I say that, Milan Lucic takes on the entire Canadiens on-ice five. Mathieu Schneider hit Lucic with a butt end to the face in front of the Montreal net, and then Lucic hit Maxim Lapierre in the face with a cross-check as he approached to intervene. Then the entire Canadiens quintet converged on Lucic, ripping his helmet off and throwing shots at him in the pile. Lucic is done for the night after taking a five minute high-sticking penalty and a game misconduct.

The Bruins are routing the Canadiens by a 5-1 score with 4:27 left in the third period in Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Ryder scores and the Bruins rout is on, 5-1

04.18.09 at 8:10 pm ET
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19:14: Alex Kovalev is in Tim Thomas‘ kitchen making bacon and eggs. Brilliant cross-ice pass from Saku Koivu to Alex Kovalev gives the Russian sniper three or four seconds to set up and pick a spot. Can’t do that with Kovalev. He powers a puck past Thomas to cut the B’s lead in half.

Canadiens defenseman Francis Boullion hurt and will not return to the game

15:15: Krejci flipped a saucer pass to Michael Ryder bombing down the slot after a Montreal turnover, but Ryder missed with his wrist shot.

14:15: Great shot fake and drop pass by P.J. Axelsson to Shane Hnidy, who flipped in a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Price high. Hnidy is playing tonight because of the injury to Matt Hunwick, and he’s making an impact.  Momentum goes right back to the Bruins.

12:43: Glen Metropolit going to the box after his takedown of Dennis Wideman. Milan Lucic threw a puck from the corner straight for Wideman at the net, but Metropolit hooked the B’s defenseman to break up the play.

11:47: Great tic-tac passing on the PP for the B’s. Savard and Michael Ryder were basically playing catch with the puck at each of the faceoff circles while moving Price post to post. Ryder finally faked a shot and then fipped it to Savard, who cashed  in on his second power play score of the game.

8:14: Chuck Kobasew is playing his hockey pants are on fire. A great shift by Mark Recchi, Chuck Kobasew and Patrice Bergeron turns into a great Recchi pass for Kobasew in the slot. Kobasew fired away, but Price was able to kick the shot aside.

5:13: Alex Tanguay hauls down Mark Stuart from behind with his stick. That Montreal strategy to draw Boston into taking penalties is really working out well. B’s PP is 2-for-3 tonight.

1:16: Blatant hook by Alex Kovalev behind the Boston net. That’s about as bad a penalty as you’ll see. B’s are again on the power play.

02.3: There’s the backbreaker. Savard flips an entry pass into the zone right on Ryder’s stick, and the former Habs forward rings a shot up under the right crossbar.  Take a bad penalty and you usually end up paying the price.

The Bruins lead the Canadiens by a 5-1 score at the end of the second at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Savard and Kobasew make it 2-0 B’s after one

04.18.09 at 7:11 pm ET
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Ready to go here at the TD Banknorth Garden. Rene Rancourt belting out the national anthems before a lively crowd that sang along to the Star Spangled Banner. You could even see Marc Savard on the Boston bench singing the words as Rancourt made his way through the tune.

18:20: Good shoving match by Milan Lucic and Francis Boullion in front of the Montreal net.

15:44: Steve Montador couldn’t handle a looping dump-in with his glove and  that allowed a racing Alex Tanguay to get in alone one-on-one against Tim Thomas.  The B’s goaltender quickly jumped on the puck for the whistle after a fumbling forehand bid by Tanguay.

14:07: Big rattling hit by Shawn Thornton on Andrei Kostitsyn that left the Russian forward down and out on the ice.

13:30: Nice curl and drag move followed by a shot from the slot by Phil Kessel. Carey Price kicked it out, but Kessel has looked every bit the fast, crafty scorer he can be in the last two games. Kessel has seven goals in his last four games. Think about that for a second and let it marinate.

11:15: Another Flying Kostitsyn Brother heard from. Sergei Kostitsyn whistled off for hooking Milan Lucic. First PP of the night.

10:01: Take a hit, make a play. Chuck Kobasew gets nailed by Mike Komisarek, but gets the puck to the center of the ice.  Steve Montador picks it up and skates it to the high point, but Marc Savard just basically took the puck off Montador’s stick and blasted a top-shelf wrister past Price to make it 1-0.

6:30: Glove deflection by Price on Stephane Yelle from the left faceoff dot. The Habs goalie is fighting the puck early in this one. Shocking, I know.

5:12: Once again Price fumbling around with a Bergeron wrister from the high slot. He was slightly screened by Roman Hamrlik, but he had to jump on the puck behind him when he couldn’t cleanly snatch it.

4:45: Chuck Kobasew makes it 2-0 when he crashes the cage and backhands a loose puck up high past Price.  He came crashing in hard to the net to make that goal happen. 

4:25: Two minutes high-sticking for Chris Higgins. Second PP for Bruins, none for Canadiens.

2:16: Price just robbed Kobasew of another one. David Krejci was working the puck in the corner and found Kobasew as he was motoring to the crease area, but Price gloved the puck.

1:26: Pushing and shoving by Josh Gorges and Zdeno Chara behind the Boston net turns into a precious moment. Kessel facewashes Tom Kostopoulos and tosses the Habs forward to the ice, and then Kostopoulos chases after before Tim Thomas steps in between them. Both players went back to the dresing room with matching penalties.

1:14: Diving penalty for Bergeron, and tripping for Mathieu Schneider. The Habs defensmean seemed to take umbrage with Bergeron taking a page out of Montreal’s book.

00:8.9: Another Yelle shot that seemed to get lost in Price’s pads and then hang around in front of the net.

The Bruins lead the Canadiens by a 2-0 score after one full period during Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Hunwick out indefinitely after removal of spleen

04.18.09 at 6:42 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick is out indefinitely after Saturday afternoon surgery at Mass General Hospital to remove a ruptured spleen. According to Bruins team doctor Peter Asnis, the injury probably happened on a second period bodycheck into the boards during Game 1 of the playoff series between the Canadiens and the B’s.

Asnis said it was “possible” that Hunwick could return at a later point in the playoffs, but the recuperation time for a normal person after a splenectomy is four to six weeks. It’s unclear how long it might take to heal enough for Hunwick to play hockey again. The rookie blueliner, in all likelihood, won’t be back this season unless the Bruins advance to the Conference or Stanley Cup Finals — and even then it’s doubtful Hunwick would be ready for playoff-intensity hockey after such a long layoff.

“He should be able to play hockey again and have a 100 percent full recovery,” said Asnis, who added that the injury was found on Friday and he had already been ruled out of Saturday’s game prior to the spleen rupture. “Full recovery should be in several months, a month to two, and we’ll see how he does.”

 Shane Hnidy will replace Hunwick in Saturday night’s Bruins lineup.

Bruins coach Claude Julien prefers to have some depth at both the defenseman and forward positions during the playoffs, so expect another shoe to drop at the D-man spot in the coming days. Andrew Ference is on the mend from an undisclosed injury and would be the perfect replacement for Hunwick given his puck-moving skill-set and ability to man the point on the power play.

A call to Providence could also be possible, but it may not be the player that many would assume in Johnny Boychuk. Jeff Penner is more in the mold of the quick-skating, puck-moving D-man needed in Hunwick’s absence, and Penner is also a left-handed shot like the fallen Hunwick. All the Baby B’s could be immaterial, however, if Ference is ready to play in the next few days.

“We have options that we’re considering,” said B’s GM Peter Chiarelli. “Whether we execute them or not, we’ll see as the days unfold.”

Campbell: Let the playoffs be the playoffs

04.18.09 at 3:28 pm ET
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The deafening silence you heard today from the NHL offices is any form of discipline coming down on the Montreal Canadiens following their third period behavior in the Game 1 victory for the Bruins. Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, who also serves as the league’s head disciplinarian, intimated during a Friday morning interview on the NHL Live radio show that there was nothing in the third period of Game 1 that crossed any lines of the NHL’s hockey conduct policy.

Habs players Mike Komisarek, Tom Kostopoulos and Maxim Lapierre were all involved extracurricular activities in the waning moments of third period’s Game 1, and B’s GM Peter Chiarelli had placed a call to the NHL offices on Thursday to take a close look at the third period activity.

It appeared that Komisarek may have removed his glove and scratched at Matt Hunwick’s right eye following the final horn in the third period, and footage clearly showed Kostopoulos throwing an elbow that just barely missed the rookie defenseman’s chin in the game’s closing seconds. Judging by the lack of suspensions or reprimand, the Canadiens’ actions in a game that had already been decided clearly wasn’t “crossing the line” in the NHL’s eyes.

Flyers forward Mike Cammalleri also apparently didn’t cross the line when he threw a high elbow straight to the chops of Chicago Blackhawks sniper Martin Havlat during a faceoff in Game 1 of their series — a deduction made through the lack of suspensions following the incident. So the B’s skaters should probably brace for more of the same this evening should they be winning handily in the third period.

“People take different things out of different incidents from (Thursday) night and say ‘Same thing. How many games are you going to suspend them?’ You got to let the games unfold,” said Campbell. “You’ve got to let hockey be hockey. Let the playoffs be the playoffs, and let the energy flow.  Then when they cross that line you do what you have to do. I don’t mind people asking the questions, but enough is enough.

“There’s a certain line that you cross in all games and all situations where people in my department then have to do something,” added Campbell. “But you can’t filter out everything. This is the playoffs and it’s the first round. It’s usually the best round of hockey. We want to filter the crazy things out. When teams start to send messages, there are different ways to do it and you can cross over the line.”

Blake Wheeler is a Bruins first-timer no more

04.18.09 at 1:37 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Hockey players can take part in big-time high school rivalry games and college championship matches, but there’s really nothing quite like the first taste of Stanley Cup playoff hockey for the first-timers in the Bruins’ dressing room.

Matt Hunwick, rushed from the B’s practice rink to a Boston hospital with a spleen ailment following a team meeting on Saturday morning, and Blake Wheeler both fall into the “first-timer” category for the Black and Gold, and the B’s rookie forward was in a bit of a different role in Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens — and potentially could be for the entire series.

Wheeler spent 10:19 of ice time largely skating on the fourth line with Stephane Yelle and Shawn Thornton, and was on the same PK unit with David Krejci that he’s manned for much of the hockey season. It’s a change in duties for a big rangy forward that scored 21 goals during the season, and now Wheeler has added a little more grit and physicality to his innate offensive instincts.

“I thought our young games were good and produced,” said Julien. “I thought Wheels played well even though he was on a different line than he’s played on before, but he also did well killing penalties with (David) Krejci. He was very focused and I was really happy with his game (in Game 1).

“(Krejci and Wheeler) have good chemistry together when it comes time to kill and they do a good job,” added Julien. “They might be awfully young pair, but they’re a pair that’s been together since the beginning of the year killing penalties. It’s part of our success in that area, and we’re not going to all of a sudden change things now just because we’re in the playoffs. Our guys that we’ve put in positions to do jobs this year, they’re going to remain in those positions. There’s no reason to change those kinds of things.”

So it looks as if — barring injury — Wheeler should get used to more of the role he played in Game 1. Here’s some thoughts from the 22-year-old following his first playoff experience Thursday night. After playing a full season of hockey that included highs and lows and placing that first playoff game squarely under his belt, Wheeler is a rookie no more. Here’s Wheeler:

How was that first game? BW: It was a great atmosphere. It was great to be out there and see the fans amp the level up a little. All of the yellow towels (waved by the fans) were awesome too. It was a great experience.

You threw a hit early in the game. Playing with Yelle and Thornton, were you cognizant that you had to play a little different like that? BW: Yeah, it’s just a little different mentality. A little different philosophy. The role is a little different, and you have to go out there and do the best with whichever role you’re given. I want to do whatever it takes to help this team. Whatever role you’re put into, you’ve got to flourish in that role and do your best to be the best player at that role you can be.

You talk to a lot of people and they tell you how much adrenaline is pumping in that very first playoff game. How did you deal with that? BW: You just have to stay with it and stay focused with that. The first 10 minutes or so the puck was kinda optional out there, and you’re getting some of the emotion out. For us, we got off to a great start and we’ve just got to keep that mentality and keep that focus going for an entire 60 minutes. You can’t die off. We kind of died off a little bit after we scored those two goals.

What do you have to do to improve in Game 2? BW:Improve? I think our forecheck could stand to be a little better. We dumped some pucks that got to the goalie a little too much, and if we can get them away from him and just try to stay up on our forecheck and continue to do the things we did well in the first game. Obviously you want to stay out of the box because they have a great power play. Those types of things made us successful and we just need to improve it a little bit.

Did that feel like the style of play was any more fast or intense than it was in the regular season? BW: It’s hard to say. We’ve played those guys six times and when you play a team over the course of six games you’re really not going to see a lot that’s different just because it’s a playoff game. We know what to expect when we play them, and they know what to expect when they play us. It’s about kind of exploiting their weaknesses and they’re trying to do the same to us. It’s the same game, but the intensity is greater with every play and every change of possession. Everything is magnified a little more, and that’s the difference maybe with our team and their team.

What about the crowd? BW: Oh, that was awesome. That’s what we were expecting, especially because it’s Montreal/Boston and we knew everyone was going to be into the historical series. It was great to see the yellow towels and how pumped up everyone in Boston was to have this here. The atmosphere in Boston was great.

You dealt with big-time games in Minnesota. How did that help you with this? BW: Oh it helps a lot. You know what to expect and that you can’t get too high or too low. You’ve got to stay on an even-keel and we did a great job of that (Thursday) night. We’ve just got to not let our down-swing get too low like we did and we’ll hopefully limit their chances. I think all of us have played on some pretty big stages before this, so that helps prepare you for that stage.

What did that stage on Thursday night rank with regard to some of the other big-stages that you’ve played on? BW: It’s the same feeling. It really is. I’ve played in a lot of hockey games. Obviously everything was going to be a little higher and a little faster and a little bit of everything, but I didn’t want to let it get into my head too much. I just wanted to play my game because I’ve been playing here all year. You’ve just got to have confidence and do your best. More often than not, when you do that things are going to bounce your way. You can’t let the moment or the situation be too glorified in your mind.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien, David Krejci,
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