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Standing in the way

Canadiens went to great lengths to support goalie

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 15, 2011

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Although Zdeno Chara sent two Canadiens limping toward the dressing room last night, it’s presumed that Montreal fans were not dashing to call the authorities to have the Boston captain clapped in leg irons.

Less than two minutes into Game 1 of their playoff opener, Chara launched one of his signature slappers toward the goal. Instead of landing on net, Chara’s cannon blasted off the leg of Andrei Kostitsyn, who was forced to hobble to the bench. He remained there for several moments, then squirmed his way toward the dressing room.

In the second period, Chara catapulted a one-timer that clanged off the leg of Travis Moen. Like Kostitsyn, Moen slowly skated off the ice and headed for maintenance. Like Kostitsyn, Moen returned later in the game.

The hobbled forwards’ goalie assured them their bruises were appreciated.

“When I have guys that are willing to sacrifice any part of their body to keep the puck out of the net and from reaching me, I’ll let them know for sure,’’ said Carey Price (31 saves). “That is encouraging and good for our hockey team.’’

The Canadiens were credited with 19 blocked shots, a team-leading four each by Brent Sopel and James Wisniewski.

Because of the Canadiens’ willingness to fill shooting lanes and launch themselves in front of pucks, Price had his workload lessened. The Boston point men weren’t effective enough in getting pucks around blockers and onto the net. Up front, the forwards weren’t rough enough to push aside the Montreal bodies that were clogging the lanes.

“Obviously Price is a great goalie, and he can’t see the puck like that,’’ said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. “We’ve got to make sure we get in front of him and get some traffic. It doesn’t have to be the prettiest goal. We just need to put the puck in.’’

Hnidy stands at ready Shane Hnidy is on familiar ice. Hnidy, the Bruins’ No. 7 defenseman, filled the same position in 2008-09, his last go-around with the Bruins. That year, like last night, Hnidy was in the TD Garden press box as a healthy scratch for the playoffs. But that all changed quickly in ’09.

In Game 1 against Montreal, the same night he had his eye gouged by Mike Komisarek, Matt Hunwick suffered an injury to his spleen. Two days later, prior to the morning skate, Hunwick had to be transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen.

In Game 2 that night, Hnidy was back in uniform.

“You’ve got to be prepared,’’ Hnidy said before last night’s game. “You can’t have too much anxiety going out there. Mentally, you’ve got to be sharp and relaxed. Just go out there and enjoy it. It’s a game.

“I say it over and over. This is why we play hockey — to be in this type of scenario. You want to be at your best.’’

The Bruins are hopeful Hnidy’s services will not be required. History, however, says otherwise.

Two years ago, the Bruins saw Hunwick and Andrew Ference go down in the playoffs. Last season, they were without Dennis Seidenberg for the entire run, while Mark Stuart sat out the first round.

The nature of postseason play — meaner, rougher, and nastier than the regular season — almost guarantees that injuries will strike. It’s especially true of defensemen on the receiving end of cannonball forecheckers.

With that in mind, Hnidy is expecting to dress sooner rather than later. He will be first in line, followed by rookie Matt Bartkowski. Steven Kampfer would have been in the mix, but he suffered a knee injury last Saturday playing for Providence. Kampfer would not be available until the second round.

“It is the nature of the game,’’ Hnidy said of injuries in the playoffs. “It’s a long grind. Hopefully it doesn’t happen.’’

Seguin sits As expected, Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch. “We’ve got 20 guys in our lineup tonight,’’ said Julien before the game. “We feel it’s the lineup we want to go with.’’ . . . Montreal’s P.K. Subban led all players with 27:07 of ice time. Subban and partner Hal Gill (22:34) were matched against the No. 1 line for most of the night . . . Ryan White was credited with seven hits.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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