Loose pucks

Shane Hnidy remains hindered by a lower-body injury (undisclosed, in keeping with the NHL’s KGB standards), according to Bruins coach Claude Julien, which all but guarantees that young blueliner Matt Hunwick will be in the lineup tonight when the Bruins face the Leafs at the Garden.

In his previous start this season, Oct. 15, Hunwick logged 9 minutes, 56 seconds in the 4-3 shootout loss at Montreal.

”Hopefully, he’ll keep his game simple,” said Julien, following the traditional day-of-game skate, ”because it’s been a while since he’s played. If we don’t notice him out there, then it’s a good sign.”


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Look for Tim Thomas to make his fifth straight start in the Boston net, opposing Vesa Toskala, who let in a handful in his last start, a 5-4 OT loss to the Canes.

“I’ve had a lot of good goalies,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson, formerly of the Sharks, where Toskala manned the net before being swapped to Toronto, ”and their strength is, they live in the moment.”

Read: Don’t expect Toskala to be worried about what happened two nights earlier vs. the Canes.

Thomas, who recorded back-to-back 1-0 shutouts last week in Edmonton and Vancouver, owns an eye-popping .970 save percentage over his last four starts (132 shots/128 saves), and a miserly 0.99 goals-against average.

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Will there be a carryover of the rough stuff, delightfully on display here Saturday night vs. Dallas, with the hard-working Leafs in town?

Julien hopes his club carries some of that emotion into game No. 13 of the 82-game schedule.

”But the last game is the last game,” he said. ”To build on it is one thing, but you also have to turn the page and really focus on whom you’re playing against. Certainly, there won’t be [Sean] Avery or [Steve] Ott in [the Toronto] lineup — so let’s focus on the team that’s going to come and play us hard tonight.”


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Wilson on the hard-working, and somewhat surprising Leafs, who have been a far-better-than-predicted 5-4-4 thus far in ’08-’09:

“What [is the opposition] going to do if we don’t quit?”

The Leafs fell into a 2-0 hole here in their last visit, Oct. 23, and turned it on for 4-2 win.

The secret to a better start tonight for the Blue-and-White?

“I’ve been thinking of going to Dunkin’ Donuts,” said the ex-Providence College Friar, ”buying one of those 10-cup boxes they sell, and going around the the stall of some of our guys and saying, ”Have a cup of coffee and be ready to go.’ ”

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