Boston, MA --
With Milan Lucic
out, defenseman Matt Hunwick found himself in a rather unfamiliar spot during Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals: left wing.
“It surprised a lot of people, but I said, I have no doubt that you’re going to be successful there with your speed, your grit, determination, and that’s what the line needed,” said head coach Claude Julien, “and sure enough, he proved us right.”
Joining the Bruins top line of center Marc Savard
and right wing Phil Kessel, the B’s defenseman tried his hand at left wing for the afternoon, and it seemed to work just fine.
“He reminded me of [Marco Sturm] a bit, with the speed, and he’s got a good shot, and he gets in those dangerous areas,” said Savard. “It was a lot of fun playing with him.
“Coach told me before the game, and I was like, who knows, but he had a lot of speed, and he works hard, and he’s a good hockey player,” he said.
Just over five minutes into the first period, Hunwick took a pass from Savard and snuck it past Caps goalie Jose Theodore to tie the game and get the Bruins their first goal of the contest.
“To go to the net, to have an opportunity to score, it was just one of those plays where I had my stick on the ice, and everybody knows Savvy is a great passer,” Hunwick said, “so I knew if I got to an area where he could find me, it was going to be on my tape.”
Hunwick also earned an assist on Kessel’s goal at 9:06 of the second period, the B’s second of the game.
“It was kind of a broken play off the faceoff,” Hunwick said. “I sent it across ice, and I was able to tip it up and, again, just tried to use the speed to put pressure on their defensemen, and, like I said, when Savvy gets it, usually good things happen.”
Clearly being on the line with Savard and Kessel, two of the more potent offensive players in the game, was quite a thrill for the young D-man.
“The last time…I was playing on the fourth line, and tonight, I was playing on [the first line], so it wasn’t something I was expecting coming in here…but it was a lot of fun,” he said. “Obviously Phil has a lot of speed, and Savvy can find you just about anywhere on the ice, so I knew if I got out there and was able to get open, they were going to find me.”
Julien was impressed with the line’s output, admitting that Hunwick had a difficult job.
“It’s not easy [for a player to switch from defense to offense], and I think that’s why you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that,” said Julien. “It’s something you can’t just turn the switch on, and say, ‘OK, today I’m a defenseman, tomorrow I’m a forward.’
“Obviously some adjustments had to be made, and he made them very well today.”
The coach wasn’t too worried beforehand, though, because Hunwick has seen offense from the eyes of a defenseman. In two straight games, Hunwick now has totals of 2-2-4, including a 1-1-2 against the Ducks playing on the blueline.
“You know what it is, you understand where to position yourself, because you’re normally a guy looking for those players to move it to,” Julien said. “I just told him not to over think, just go out and play.”