|11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.
Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.
Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’s ailing back end.
Krug thinks that’s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.
“It doesn’t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’re the only option,” he said. “They’re putting you in the game and you’ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.
“That’s the only reason I’m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’s fun when you earn things like that.”
McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.
That won’t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.
“Is it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,” Claude Julien said. “I think it’s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’s all said and done. There’s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”
Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.
Given their injuries, the Bruins’ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.
“I think that number’s grown,” Krug said. “You’re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’s doing well. I think that number’s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”
|11.20.14 at 3:09 pm ET|
Brad Marchand will not travel with the Bruins to Columbus, coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s practice. Marchand participated in the practice, but shared left wing duties on his line with Matt Fraser.
Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets will be the second consecutive contest Marchand has missed due to an undisclosed injury that was suffered in Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes. Julien said that Marchand is “doing better,” but that he remains day-to-day and the team wants to give him more time to recover.
Dougie Hamilton practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice with the flu.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.19.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid is out 6-8 weeks with a broken thumb, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Wednesday. McQuaid suffered the injury in the second period of Tuesday’s win over the Blues when he was hit by a Kevin Shattenkirk shot that went off Chris Kelly.
McQuaid joins Zdeno Chara and David Warsofsky as Bruins defensemen who are currently out with injuries. Kevan Miller and Torey Krug also missed time earlier in the season.
Until suffering the injury, McQuaid had played in 20 straight games, the longest stretch of consecutive play he’d had the last two seasons. He was limited to two 15-game stretches in a 2013-14 season that was plagued by lower-body injuries.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, McQuaid had averaged 19:55 per night — the highest of his career by nearly four minutes — for the Bruins, often serving as a top-four defenseman who played against the opposition’s better forwards. He had proven himself to be a key piece of a Boston defense that had multiple players go in and out with injuries.
“It’s great to be back and a part of things here and being with the guys on a daily basis and being in the same routine,” McQuaid told WEEI.com hours before Tuesday’s game. “When you’re not practicing and playing and traveling, you’re still at the rink and you still see the guys and stuff, but it’s not quite the same. I’m really enjoying that part, being back in and being on the ice. Feeling like you’re a part of wins is nicer than anything.”
This is the last season of McQuaid’s current contract, which has carried a $1.56 million cap hit for each of the last three seasons. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg are the only members of Boston’s opening night defensemen that have played in every game this season. Both players missed significant time last season — Hamilton missed 18 games between multiple injuries, while Seidenberg missed 48 regular-season games and all of the postseason due to a knee injury.
With McQuaid out, it’s only logical that Kevan Miller will slot back into the lineup in McQuaid’s place. Miller filled in admirably for McQuaid last season, but a dislocated shoulder kept him out for 12 games. He was cleared to play Tuesday but was made a healthy scratch in favor of Matt Bartkowski.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.19.14 at 1:38 am ET|
For one of the few times this season, Tuukka Rask felt like the Bruins showed their true potential.
Maybe it was his 33 saves in a 2-0 shutout over the Blues. Maybe it was the better play he saw in front of him in the defensive zone. Or maybe it was just beating a team that could wind up in the Stanley Cup finals. Whatever it was, Rask had a lot to like about the way he and his teammates played Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“Well, it’s always a good team we beat, but then again we know when we play the Bruins hockey, we can beat anybody and we’re a tough team to beat ourselves,” Rask said. “It just goes to show again, when we play that style of hockey it works. Hopefully we realize it one of these days and keep it consistent too.”
The Bruins were consistent for 60 minutes Tuesday in an effort that handed the Blues just their second loss in 12 games. Rask was asked if it were the best 60-minute effort of the year.
“It was, yeah absolutely,” Rask said. “We started off really hard. Right off the bat we took the puck in their end and played there. The first period was probably the best one, you know, twenty minutes’you’re always going to get a little ups and downs through the games but for the most part we kept things tight and played a good game.
“I think pretty much everybody was going today, you know, full 60. We’re a good team when we have everybody going. As far as the team effort goes, in a 60 minute effort, that was our best game I think.”
|11.19.14 at 12:59 am ET|
Ever since scoring the overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second round last spring, every Bruins fan knew the kid could score.
But on Tuesday night, they saw a different side of Fraser, the tough, gritty side, giving the Bruins exactly what they needed with Brad Marchand out with an unspecified injury.
Fraser played all 20 shifts with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith as the Bruins beat the Blues, 2-0, at TD Garden.
“Obviously, I like scoring goals,” Fraser said. “I like to be an offensive threat. But you’re not going to be that kind of guy every night. There’s going to be times when you have to be relied upon to be a defensive, sound player. I think on this team, that’s more my ‘ it’s not my job, but I have to broaden my game a little bit because every guy in this room is good defensively. That’s how this franchise has built their system: you got to be good defensively. You got to make sure you’re good in all three zones.”
The irony is that Fraser did score a goal – with nine seconds left in the second period – but it was disallowed when referee Chris Lee ruled Fraser slammed into Blues goalie Brian Elliot before Elliot could play the puck.
“To me it should have been a goal,” coach Claude Julien said. “In my mind the puck’s in, it hits him, and it goes in before he even touches the goaltender. But those are unfortunately not reviewable, so he gets deprived from a goal. But the other part ‘ he deserves a lot of credit for his, he was on the line that played against their top-scoring line and defensively I thought he was very reliable. He played big, he played strong with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and [Reilly] Smith. I think that line did a great job against the [Vladimir] Tarasenko line.”
|11.18.14 at 11:48 pm ET|
Claude Julien offered little update on the status of Adam McQuaid following the Bruins’ 2-0 win over the Blues at TD Garden Tuesday. McQuaid left the game in the second period after appearing to take a puck off the right hand/wrist.
“I still have to see what it is, and even if I do go see I don’t think I’ll get the total answer,” Julien said. “[Members of the medical staff] have to have a look at him first and assess the whole thing.”
McQuaid was playing in his 20th straight game, which was longer than any stretch he’d played last season. He was limited to 30 games by a lower-body injury last season, which was split into two stretches of 15 games.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.18.14 at 9:37 pm ET|
It’s been rightfully noted here that a lot of the Bruins’ wins at home without Zdeno Chara have come against bad teams, so they deserve credit for defeating a very good team at TD Tuesday.
Tuesday’s game against the Blues could have been a messy affair. The Blues are a well-oiled machine cruising in the much superior Western Conference and had won 10 of their last 11 games entering the Garden, but the B’s were able to take a 2-0 win (box) against a team leading the Western Conference in points.
What makes the win all the more impressive for the B’s was that they did it with more injuries. David Krejci returned to the lineup, but Brad Marchand missed the game with an undisclosed injury, while Adam McQuaid was hurt in the second period and didn’t return, forcing the Bruins to play most of the game with five defensemen.
The fashion in which the win was accomplished was also impressive. The shorthanded B’s were defensively sound and survived a big third-period push from the Blues as Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season.
The Bruins can take care of their easy games at home, but they also have it in them to beat perhaps the best team in the league right now. Here are four other things were learned Tuesday.
ADAM MCQUAID’S HEALTHY STREAK MIGHT BE ON HOLD
Adam McQuaid played in 20 straight games to begin this season, which is a longer stretch of games played than he was ever able to accomplish in his injury-plagued 2013-14 season. That might be coming to an end.
McQuaid left Tuesday’s game on his second shift of the second period and did not return. He was hit in the right arm or hand by a Kevin Shattenkirk shot that was blocked by Chris Kelly. McQuaid was shaking his right hand/arm immediately following getting hit. He did not play another shift after that.
The veteran defenseman played two stretches of 15 games apiece last season and did not play again after Jan. 19 due to a groin/quad injury.
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