BOSTON — There’s no telling if Matt Hunwick will get another chance to skate on the left wing of the Boston Bruins’ top line ever again. There’s no telling if he’ll ever even get another shot at playing forward.
All we know is that the career defenseman did both those things today and was a rousing success in the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to Washington at TD Banknorth Garden.
Hunwick, who admitted that when he came to the rink today he didn’t expect to end up in the slot the injured Milan Lucic vacated in the line-up, finished with one goal and one assist in his second game of the season at forward. While his previous game up front (Jan. 27) featured him on the fourth line, this time he was in a prime position next to center Marc Savard and winger Phil Kessel.
“It was one of those things where coach told me just to go out and use my speed and just try to play my game. That’s something I try to do, just keep it simple,” Hunwick said. “And obviously Savvy’s a great passer, so I just tried to use my speed to get in on the forecheck and do my best as far as breaking the puck out.”
Hunwick turned a pretty Savard pass into his fifth goal of the season just 5:03 into the game to tie the score at 1. To get to the net, Hunwick had to battle two Washington defensemen.
“It’s a lot more fun, obviously, to go to the net and have an opportunity to score,” he said. “It’s just one of those plays where I had my stick on the ice, and everyone knows Savvy’s a great passer, so I knew if I got to an area where he could find me, it was going to be on my tape.”
Hunwick later assisted on a Kessel goal by chasing his own dump-in and feeding a pass out to Savard for the set-up. Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who said he hasn’t looked ahead to determine Hunwick’s role as a forward, revealed that he’d been contemplating a Hunwick-Savard-Kessel combination for awhile (or at least as long as he’d known Lucic would be out injured).
“I thought about it and I watched him practice (Friday) as well. I really thought – I talked to him before the game and I talked to Savvy – and I said, ‘I have no doubt that you’re going to be successful with your speed, your grit, determination, and that’s what that line needed. And he proved us right,” said the coach.
Hunwick skated one late shift on the power play, so don’t go penciling him in as the Bruins’ elusive left-handed shooting man-advantage threat. But if nothing else suits the Bruins’ fancy come the trade deadline, they at least have Hunwick as an option.