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Veteran defenseman Hnidy set to step in again

by Shawn P. Roarke /
BOSTON -- As usual, Bruins coach Claude Julien refused to divulge any lineup changes as his team finished final preparations Wednesday for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But it appears unlikely that defenseman Adam McQuaid will be in the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden. McQuaid suffered a neck injury early in Boston's 3-2 OT victory in Monday's Game 2 and spent part of the night in the hospital.

McQuaid did not skate at Wednesday's morning skate, replaced by seventh defenseman Shane Hnidy.

If Hnidy gets the call to play against a desperate Flyer team in Game 3, he insists he will be ready.

"I prepare to play and you never know what is going to happen, so my preparation doesn't change," Hnidy said. "I get ready for the game physically and mentally, and when the time comes I go in there."

The time has already come once for the veteran Hnidy this postseason. He was the last-minute replacement for Zdeno Chara when dehydration laid the Boston captain low for Game 2 in the first round. Hnidy played sparingly in that game, a loss to Montreal, taking seven shifts and totaling just 4:13 of ice time.

Despite the paucity of playing time -- he only played in three regular-season games after signing as a free-agent late in the regular season -- Hnidy says his first-round exposure to the speed and physicality of the playoffs can only help if he is called upon to contribute Wednesday night.

"That's where experience helps," Hnidy said. "You have to stay sharp. I'm hoping (the experience) comes in handy. You have to have an urgency, but a calm at the same time.

Hnidy says the fact that he plays a simple, chip-it-in, chip-it-out game helps him when he is inserted into the lineup. If he finds himself thinking too much or trying to make the fancy play, he knows he is getting away from his game and can check himself.

"We're fortunate Shane Hnidy is coming in as a guy with 30-something playoff games under his belt already and more than a few hundred games in the NHL," Boston winger Shawn Thornton said. "I guess we're lucky that our seventh guy has that much experience and this is nothing new for him, so he'll know what to expect."

Julien wouldn't speculate on how he might use Hnidy on Wednesday night, although the fact that it is a third-pair defenseman missing and not Chara will surely impact his thought process. Also, Boston leads this series 2-0 after a pair of wins in Philly. In Game 2 against Montreal, the Bruins were looking for a win to split the first two games at home.

"He's got experience and we'll use him as we see fit," Julien said. "Again, you watch a player play and if he's showing signs of a guy doing a great job, you give him a little more ice time."

No matter how much time Hnidy sees Wednesday, he is at peace with the road that has led him to this point.

Hnidy sat out almost the entire regular season this year, waiting for the right offer. After playing full-time for the Minnesota Wild last season, he knew his 35-year-old body still had some NHL hockey left in its bones. So he waited and waited and waited some more, until the Bruins finally called in February, searching for some veteran depth for the postseason.

"I couldn't have asked for anything better," Hnidy said. "This is where I wanted to be. I was talking to a friend the other day and saying in February I was still at home watching hockey and here I am as part of a team that is doing well.

"When I think of that, it really makes you appreciate it so much more and I want to use it to my advantage. I'm very lucky to be in this (situation). I worked for it, but at the same time to get the opportunity, I want to make the most of it."

Wednesday, he might just get that chance again.
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