Bruins

Bruins give Shane Hnidy a tryout

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Bruins give Shane Hnidy a tryout

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER In their search for that final piece of defense depth, which is needed to round out a close-to-capacity Bruins roster, general manager Peter Chiarelli isnt ruling anything out.

That became obvious Wednesday at the Pacific Coliseum, when "The Sheriff" returned to town.

Shane Hnidy, a clubhouse leader during his year-and-a-half with the Bruins, practiced with the team, allowing Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien to get a first-hand look at how the 35-year-old defenseman is recovering from a rotator cuff injury suffered during thefall.

Chiarelli confirmed to CSNNE.com that the Bruins are still searching for potential forward and defensemen candidates to fill out the club's depth heading into the playoffs, either via trade or free-agent signings. Hnidy joined the Minnesota Wild after the Bruins chose not to re-sign him after the 2008-09 season, and is again a free agent.

Well have a look at him over the next couple of days, see how he is and make a decision then, said Chiarelli, who estimated Hnidy could be a month away while still working his way back from the shoulder injury. Hes a guy were familiar with and hes been in here before. He suffered an injury at the end of camp with Phoenix, and hes been rehabbing all year.

He reached out a couple of times to us and we decided it was time to take a look at him. Were still looking at little trade things along those depth lines at defenseman and forward, and this is another one of our options.

Hnidy took part in spirited 2-on-2 skating drills up and down the ice, and said afterward rejoining the Bruins would be the perfect fit.

Hnidy was coming off his best NHL season with the Wild in 2009-10, but the blueliner banged up his shoulder tumbling into the boards while trying out with the Phoenix Coyotes during training camp in September.

Julien is clearly a Hnidy fan, and hoped the Bs could get a few months of the Hnidy that cemented a role in Boston over the course of 1 12 seasons and finished with 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists) in 108 games. He wasnt going to wow anybody with his offensive skills or offensive abilities, but Hnidy is the exact kind of player that any good Stanley Cup level team has room for. There's also the whole matter of 37 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience on Hnidy's resume, which could help in an extended run for the Cup.

Hes familiar with us and the coaching staff, and were all familiar with him. Hes always been a team guy, said Julien. We know what he brings on the ice, and we know what he brings off the ice. If things work out then we have no problem making him an addition because hes been a good team player.

With the Bruins feeling that Steve Kampfer has encountered a bit of the rookie wall in his first season outside of NCAA hockey, and with Johnny Boychuk battling with consistency, adding another defenseman to the mix seems like a natural move forthe B's.

Boston also seems like the place for Hnidy, though there are plenty of other teams in the market for a veteran defenseman capable of playing gritty, tough hockey in a bottom-six pairing.

It was definitely an easy transition to come in here. Its such an incredible group of guys both the ones that Ive played with and the new guys that have come in here, said Hnidy. This is a team thats obviously at the top of my list. Theres no question.

When I left Boston I felt like there was a part of me that I left there. Right from when I first got traded there in January 2008 it was an easy fit for me, and it really felt right.

Hnidy is obviously an attractive option given his unique knowledge with the personnel, coaches and systems employed by the Bruins, but theres an even bigger part of the defensemens game. A no-nonsense guy from Manitoba, Hnidy had that rare ability to call out anybody in the dressing room when the time called for it during his time in Boston.

Many around the team pointed to Hnidys absence last season as one of the hurdles that had to be overcome in terms of leadership and locker-room voice, and hed clearly add a little toughness and intensity to this years playoff run if hes healthy enough to play.

Rather than the crazy trade theories tossed out there concerning the Bs Matt Hunwick anyone? signing a veteran like Hnidy with some Boston track record should be an attractive option for the Bruins. The minimal cost in terms of cap hit and assets surrendered make it something of a no-brainer if everything else is equal.

Im here. Thats the first step. I know its up to me and I know what Ive got to do, said Hnidy. I know theres going to be some work involved, but that isnt something Ive shied away from. Thats what my whole career has been about.

If its solely up to hard work and determination, then it would be only a matter of time before Hnidy is added to the Boston mix.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.