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Bruins reshuffle defense for critical Game 4

by Shawn P. Roarke / NHL.com
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Claude Julien is not one to tip his hand, so there was little coming out of Boston Bruins' camp about the team's plans for Friday's Game 4 (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS) against the Hurricanes.

But one thing is clear - Boston will try to even this best-of-7 series against Carolina at the RBC Center without the services of defenseman Andrew Ference, who suffered an undisclosed lower-body in the second period of Game 3 on Wednesday. He did not return for the third period or overtime of that 3-2 overtime loss. He is listed as day-to-day.

Shane Hnidy will play in Ference's place. The veteran defenseman played in three games of the Montreal series last round after Boston lost young defensemen Matt Hunwick to a ruptured spleen. Hnidy was, in turn, replaced when Ference made his return from a lower-body injury that had sidelined him since April. 4.

The Bruins will keep the unit of Zdeno Chara and Aaron Ward together as the top pairing, but they will have to shuffle their other two duos. Most likely, Mark Stuart will move up to join Dennis Wideman on the second pair and Hnidy will play with Steve Montador.

"Shane's a good veteran, he knows how to keep himself ready," Julien said.

Hnidy played very well in his three-game stint against the Canadiens. He averaged more than 14 minutes of ice time, registered a plus-2 rating and even scored a goal in Game 2.

Boston will have second-line forward Blake Wheeler in uniform it appears. There was some question about Wheeler's availability after blocking a shot in Game 3. But Wheeler took part in Friday's morning skate and Julien said he is available for action.

Aside from injury updates, Friday was the first time to take the Bruins' pulse since Wednesday's loss as the team was given Thursday off by Julien. For the most part, it seems that Boston used the mental off day to regroup and refocus.

Chara says Boston has put the last two losses -- the team's only two this postseason -- in the past. The mistakes that have contributed to those losses -- neutral-zone turnovers, untimely penalties, an inability to consistently win puck battles -- have all been addressed within the team structure

"We can't do much about the past two games," he said. "We just have to look forward. Obviously, it's the most important game for us.

"We all know what we have to do, what we have to improve on. We all realize this team is much better than what we have shown the last two games. As individuals and a team, we know we can be better."

They will have to be if they want to get home for Sunday's Game 5 with the series once again even.

"When you are down 2-1 in a series, it's important that you really come to play, it's important that you play your best game possible," Julien said. "Everything becomes more important. We don't want to go back home down three to one. Those are the consequences we face tonight. It's up to us to decide how we go home."

Contact Shawn P. Roarke at sroarke@nhl.com


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