BOSTON — Bruins head coach Claude Julien wouldn’t commit to the identities of the five other defensemen who’ll dress against Atlanta today, but he confirmed that Shane Hnidy will make his season debut.
Hnidy signed as a free agent in February while he was still rehabilitating a fall shoulder injury.
“I think he’s been working hard now for quite a while. We brought him here to give us some depth on the back end. And at one point you’ve got to see him play and give him an opportunity to get in there. This afternoon was probably a good time for him to get himself going,” said Julien about an hour before Boston’s TD Garden matinee.
Julien said that Steven Kampfer is definitely coming out after playing Thursday against Toronto. As for the other scratch, Julien said he’d make a decision after warm-ups. But he added when asked that Zdeno Chara “will be out there this afternoon.”
Hnidy played for the Bruins in 2007-08 and 2008-09. He made a name for himself with his solid character in the dressing room and his pummeling of then-Dallas defenseman Matt Niskanen in a fight. But absence has obviously made the heart grow fonder of “The Sheriff” who certainly isn’t going to be a savior here.
In fact, if the Bruins have to use him much in the playoffs, they’re in pretty big trouble. Hnidy became expendable when he scored just one goal and posted a minus-1 rating during the ’09 playoff run. He only cracked the lineup because of the injury to Matt Hunwick.
Hnidy might get a couple games in the season’s final week to fine tune his game. But if he turns out to be more than just a solid leader off the ice for this team, it’ll be surprising and also dangerous.