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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
Hunwick Hospitalized with Spleen issue 04.18.09 at 11:34 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick has been hospitalized with a spleen-related issue, according to Bruins head coach Claude Julien. Hunwick was taken from the team’s practice facility at Ristuccia Arena this morning around 11 a.m. and transported to a local hospital.

According to The Bruins Blog, two ambulances, two fire trucks and two police vehicles were on the scene. The site also reports that Hunwick looked ‘extremely’ pale as he was taken off the ice. Veteran blueliner Shane Hnidy will replace Hunwick in Saturday night’s lineup for Game 2. The Bruins host Montreal tonight at 8 o’clock at TD Banknorth Garden in Game 2 of their first round series, leading the Canadiens, 1-0, in the best-of-seven series.

The Bruins issued the following release at 1 p.m.

“This morning Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick was transported to a local hospital due to a spleen injury. At this point there are no further details regarding Matt or his condition.

The Bruins ask that the media and general public respect Matt’s privacy at this time, and the club will provide an update on Matt’s condition when one is available.”

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Canadiens clearly ‘mean’ business 04.16.09 at 10:28 pm ET
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Long before they took exception to Milan Lucic passing to a wide open Phil Kessel for an empty net goal, Kessel’s second of the night, the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadiens showed they were not going to be a pushover in this opening round best-of-7 series, despite losing 4-2 to the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden.

“That’s the playoffs,” said Marc Savard, who set-up Zdeno Chara’s go-ahead strike midway through the third. “There’s going to be some bad blood. Obviously, throughout the game, we tried to get away from that. There’s some bad blood but that’s the way playoffs are. We’re going to have to be ready Saturday night.”

Saturday night at 8 o’clock there figures to be more tension when the two rivals take the ice for Game 2 at the Garden.

“Obviously, Looch makes a great play like he does and then he’ s unselfish and decides to go to Kess like that, maybe there’s a little animosity on the other side,” Savard said.

The animosity, and hard-hitting, began early in the first period when Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque drilled Zdeno Chara along the corner boards in the Boston defensive zone followed up by a neutral zone hit on Milan Lucic. But it was the one against Chara that made the most noise.

“I want to play hard minutes,” Laraque said. “That’s what you do with every shift. You have to do this for the first couple of games and eventually it will turn around and make it easier for our skilled guys to play against him.”

Those two hits were no mistake. The Canadiens were clearly targeting the two toughest and biggest Bruins in an effort to show that they are not intimidated by the top-seeded Bruins, even on their home ice.

The hard hitting continued in the second period when the Canadiens managed to wipe out what was once a two-goal Boston lead when Alex Kovalev scored. The goal with 2:23 remaining in the middle frame reinforced to the Bruins that these Canadiens, even without Andrei Markhov and a limited Mathieu Schneider, mean business. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL,
Warning signs 04.16.09 at 8:15 pm ET
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The Canadiens came out and carried play for the first five minutes, spending most of the time in the Bruins end. A concern if for no other reason than they also dominated the final five minutes of the second period, including a game-tying laser by Alex Kovalev from the right circle.

It was the 43rd playoff tally for Kovalev, a rookie when the Rangers ended their 54-year Cup drought in 1994.

Kovalev’s goal was scored just seven seconds after the Bruins killed off Stephane Yelle’s goaltender interference penalty.

2-2 with 12:17 to go in the third. And the crowd that was waving the yellow towels up 2-0 in the first is getting a tad nervous.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs,
National Champs in the house 04.16.09 at 8:03 pm ET
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Coach Jack Parker led his national champion Boston University Terriers through the security gate at about 6:25 this evening.

The team that scored the most dramatic win in Frozen Four history to claim its fifth national title last Saturday in Washington, D.C. will be honored tonight at Game 1 of the Bruins series with the Montreal Canadiens.

Boston University scored twice in the final 53 seconds of regulation to tie Miami University in the final before netting the game-winner halfway through the first overtime to claim the championship, 4-3.

Those three goals were shown during the first timeout in the first period on the video screen above center ice followed by a live shot of the team and Parker in the loge level seats. The crowd showed their approval with a 30-second ovation.

Bear beware 04.15.09 at 1:44 pm ET
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As colleague Joe Haggerty pointed out Tuesday in his five-point plan for taking down the Habs, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas will definitely play a big role in the upcoming Bruins-Canadiens series.

Thomas heads into this series knowing full well all eyes will be on him and how he handles the anticipated traffic in front as Montreal tries to disrupt him. He also knows the the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs when a No. 1 can go down in flames when a No. 8 team gets hot — like last year, when the Bruins nearly pulled it off against the Habs.

It happened in 1982 when Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers were beaten by the Los Angeles Kings in round 1 in the Miracle on Manchester. And it happened in 2000 when the St. Louis Blues, with 114 points, were ousted by San Jose. And while the Bruins were a No. 2 seed in 2004, they lost to the underdog Canadiens in seven games.

“A lot of it is because teams are so close,” Thomas said in offering his explanation. “The difference between one and eight in this league isn’t very much. The difference between five and 11 isn’t very much. There are no easy teams on any given night, depending on how teams are playing and how the momentum has been going for that team, any team can beat any other team and I think that’s why you see the results you see.”

What’s even more intriguing is listening to Thomas talk about the intensity level of this series, and what he learned from last year’s seven-game battle that ended in heartbreak for the B’s in Montreal.

“I had the NHL playoffs described to me before the playoffs last year and I was thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I’ve been to the (Frozen) Four in college, I’ve won a championship in Finland, I’ve been to the World Championships, it can’t be that much different than anything I’ve experienced.’ And I was wrong. It was all more emotional and adrenaline-rushed than anything I could have imagined,” said Thomas, who played at Vermont and went to the Frozen Four in 1996, losing in double-OT to Colorado College.

Thomas doesn’t have to go back that far to remember last week’s hour-long second period, where the Bruins-Canadiens resembled a UFC steel-cage death match.

“I think it’ll increase, if anything,” Thomas said of the intensity. “I’m expecting both teams to obviously be more disciplined. But as far as that type of game, with all-out competing, every man competing up and down the bench, yeah, that’s what I expect.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Tim Thomas
Julien: Hopefully we can make this one last 04.15.09 at 12:48 pm ET
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Asked what this time of year means him, Bruins coach Claude Julien turned poet-philosopher.

“From the weather outside, walking outside into the rink, it’s a great feeling,” Julien said Wednesday. “I know the guys enjoy it, we as a coaching staff are the same. I know I look forward to it every year. Hopefully, we can make this one last.”

One of the more commonly asked questions this week has been how the Bruins plan to ride the fine line of playing with emotion yet staying out of the penalty box.

But, Julien acknowledged that clearly, there is a nervous energy that everyone plays with at this time of year.

“I’ll tell you what, if you don’t have a pulse when it comes down to playoffs, you have a serious problem,” Julien said. “I think it’s the most exciting time of the year. Everybody looks forward to it. You feel sorry for those guys who are done because we all know what playoffs mean to us.”

Whether young or old, 22-year-old Blake Wheeler or 41-year-old Mark Recchi, how you manage emotion can dictate just how effective you are under the greatest pressure there is in hockey.

“I’m excited,” Wheeler said. “You’re going to be a little nervous, obviously, too. That’s a part of it but you just kind of want to harness it and use it to the positive way instead of being timid or scared out there. You just want to use it in a way that can help your team be successful.”

Wheeler has won a state high school championship in hockey-crazed Minnesota and played with Phil Kessel at the University of Minnesota. So, even at 22, he knows a thing or two about playing on the big stage.

“Anytime you play on a big stage with a lot on the line, it’s going to definitely train you how to react in those situations but it’s definitely going to be amped up quite a  bit,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be a little bit different level, a little more intensity. You just have to embrace it and respond.”

Mark Recchi has been on Stanley Cup Champions, including in 1991 with Pittsburgh and 2006 with Carolina. How he handles this time of season will be on display for players like Wheeler to observe.

“There’s not a lot you can say to them right now,” Recchi said. “They’ve got to get a taste of it right away and get a taste of it first-hand and then they’ll know right away. I don’t think anything you say can help them prepare for it. It’s how you react to things they’ll watch. I think if you stay composed, it will help them.

“The younger guys will watch how I react, and the guys in this league who have been successful and won in this league, Aaron (Ward) and Stephane (Yelle), they’ll watch them,” Recchi added. “I just have to play the game and do what I’ve done for 20 years.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
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