WILMINGTON, Mass. — At 33 years old and in his eighth NHL season, Boston Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy has seen it all and been in all situations.
That doesn’t mean he won’t act a bit prickly when he hasn’t played for nine straight games, like the stretch he ended by skating for 15:31 of ice time against Ottawa Thursday night. However, he knows how to handle the down time and that’s why he was able to seamlessly fit right back in next to his longtime D partner Mark Stuart.
“I’ve been in all situations, so I think that kind of helped me in the long run. And we’ve been playing great, so it’s easy to (feel a part) of the team when we’re playing the way we are,” he said after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena.
As expected, Hnidy had to shake off a little rust after not playing since March 8. He turned the puck over on his first pass attempt, but things got a little physical and he was back to being his old self.
“It’s been a while. The first couple shifts, I was just getting back into it,” Hnidy said. “I was fortunate I took a hit and then was able to give one back. And sometimes things like that get you back into it.”
Head coach Claude Julien gave Hnidy kudos after the win over the Senators.
“What I liked about him is that he was physical,” said Julien. “(Jarkko) Ruutu tried to get to him and he stood up and went right back at him. … We need this guy; he’s part of our team, and if we plan on making this a long playoff run, there’s going to be guys that are banged up, so I think it’s important to keep everybody more or less sharp, and this was an opportunity to put him in the lineup.”
That’s the key. Players like Hnidy, Byron Bitz and Steve Montador might not be in the lineup for days or weeks at a time, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, a chance Julien will give them the nod. There’s no doghouse with Julien.
“I think we know we’re all capable and it’s going to take everybody to go deep (in the playoffs). You’ve just got to stay ready, stay positive, and when you get out there make the most of it,” Hnidy said.