|10.28.10 at 1:33 pm ET|
Defenseman Adam McQuaid has seen plenty of ice time in practice. A healthy scratch in each of the Bruins’ first six games of the season, the 24-year-old recently inherited a spot in the lineup when the Bruins received news that Johnny Boychuk would be out for approximately a month with a fractured bone in his forearm. Now that he can expect some playing time, the practices have had a little more meaning for McQuaid, who had previously used them to stay sharp for if and when he got the call.
“They’ve been good,” McQuaid said of the last three practices. “It’s been good to kind of get into the rotation a little bit more in practice. It’s been a while, so I’m just looking forward to getting in there.”
It has been a while. McQuaid last played in the playoffs for the Bruins last season, an experience he speaks highly of given that being exposed to such a high level of intensity has prepared him for just about anything.
McQuaid laughed when asked if he was fully prepared to step in and serve as a clone for Boychuk, but did note that the two share one major similarity. After all, it wasn’t long ago that Boychuk, now a top-two defenseman paired with Zdeno Chara, was sitting out games as a healthy scratch as he himself itched for playing time last year. Once he did get the opportunity, Boychuk posted a plus-10 rating in 51 regular season games.
“He did an amazing job last year as far as when he sat out there for a while and then came in and did an awesome job,” McQuaid said of Boychuk. “I’m just looking to come in, get my feet wet and if I can do as well as he did, I’d be extremely happy.”
In 19 regular season games last year, McQuaid had one assist and he dressed in nine playoff contests for the B’s. Claude Julien hasn’t been able to see a difference in McQuaid’s game given that he simply hasn’t been able to play, but that doesn’t seem to deter the coach from having confidence in his young defenseman when he does take the ice.
“He hasn’t played a regular season game yet, so it’s hard for me to stand here and throw flowers at the guy, but I think if anything, he’s a player that’s matured and we like what we saw from him last year when he was called upon. He was a good slid player for us. He plays safe. He plays a good strong game, he’s very physical, he’s a tough individual and he doesn’t cost you. So those things put together make him a great candidate for a hockey club.”
|10.28.10 at 1:13 pm ET|
Tim Thomas appears set to make his fifth start of the season after being first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. Thomas is 4-0 on the season with a 0.75 goals against average and a .980 save percentage. Should Thomas be between the pipes on Thursday vs. Toronto, he’ll face an old teammate in Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Leafs prior to last season.
Thomas can understand the hoopla surrounding Kessel, but noted after the morning skate that the B’s have more to worry about than one player.
“It isn’t the Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel, it’s the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Thomas said. “Phil is definitely a part, and you have to be aware of him. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be on your toes all the time because he’s so exploise and so fast and he’s got that quick snap shot. As a goalie, I have to be on my toes and try to find it through traffic. That’s how I’m going to deal with it.”
Thomas said that he doesn’t necessarily feel he has an advantage against a former teammate just because he was used to practicing against him.
“I’m sure he’s learning new tricks all the time,” Thomas said of Kessel. “I don’t want to cheat when I get into a game based on what I think he would do in practice. What he does in practice and what he does in the game are two different things.”
|10.28.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien had plenty of media on hand for his press conference Thursday from both the Boston and Toronto outlets. The Maple Leafs are in town as Phil Kessel tries to notch his first goal against his former club, while Tyler Seguin, a player chosen with one of the picks received in the Kessel deal, will play against the team he grew up rooting for. Seguin grew up in Brampton, Ontario, about 40 minutes away from Toronto.
“I am not going to stand back here and deny that this is a pretty special game for Tyler. … I mean his emotions are going to be running high tonight, there is no doubt about that,” Julien said of the second overall pick in June’s draft. “There’s a certain extent that [if] you see that as becoming an issue, you’ve got to address it, but heis a pretty level-headed individual that’s been able to handle situations pretty well so far and I don’t see it being an issue tonight.”
Asked by a Finnish reporter about the team’s goaltending situation, Julien adressed it as such: “Plain and simple, I don’t have a No. 2 goalie. That’s the dilemma I have right now. I don’t have a backup. I have two No. 1’s.”
|10.28.10 at 12:27 pm ET|
Former Bruins fifth overall pick Phil Kessel spoke with the media Thursday as he and the Maple Leafs prepare to take on the B’s at TD Garden. Kessel was traded to the Leafs for a package of draft picks (one of which was spent on Tyler Seguin) and went without a goal in six games against his former club last season.
“I don’t want to stick it to them, I want to obviously play well,” Kessel said. “Last year I had a lot of chances, I just didn’t score. Hopefully I can change it this year and the most important thing is just getting wins.
“They’re a good team over there, so it’s not easy to score against them anyways,” he added. Kessel noted that he isn’t concerned with the reaction given to him by the crowd, who he said can “do whatever they want.”
The Bruins were unable to strike a long-term deal with Kessel prior to the trade, but the way things ended in Boston won’t change the 23-year-old’s view of the city and his experience.
“I loved it here,” Kessel said. “They city was great to me, the fans were great to me. I loved playing here and I had great teammates here. Obviously, it didn’t work out, but that happens.”
Seguin and Kessel met over the summer in Atlantic City for a Bauer promotion they were doing, with Seguin saying Wednesday that the two discussed the cities of Boston and Toronto. Kessel gave Seguin pointers on local dining and other goings on. One topic that was not brought up, as noted by Kessel on Thursday, was that the two will likely be linked to one another for their entire careers because of the trade, which also sent a 2010 second-rounder and a 2011 first-rounder to the B’s.
“No, we never talked about that,” Kessel said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
If the former 36-goal-scorer truly believes that it isn’t a big deal, he’ll be in for a surprise when Seguin-mania meets Kessel-mania for those on hand at the Garden Thursday night. Kessel has seven goals on the season, good for third-best in the NHL.
Kessel did say on Thursday that he feels for Marc Savard, who the Bruins have been without all season due to post-concussion syndrom symptoms. Kessel kept up with following Savard’s progress as he initially tried coming back from a March 7 hit from the Penguins‘ Matt Cooke, and hopes his former teammate can overcome his current setback.
“I’ve talked to him a little bit, but not lately,” Kessel said. “Not for a while. When [the concussion] happened, I sent him a text or two. Obviously I followed it. Obviously it’s a tough issue and hopefully he can come through.
“I feel terrible for him,” he added. “Obviously, any player that gets hurt like that, it’s not a good thing.”
|10.27.10 at 9:27 pm ET|
Cam Neely was born in British Columbia and didn’t become a dual citizen until a couple of years ago, yet it’s unquestioned that his impact on hockey in America has been far-reaching. As a result, it was no surprise to see him among the recipients of the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to hockey in the United States.
It took the Bruins’ 1986 deal with Vancouver to get Neely to the states, and the deal was highly beneficial to a number of people for a number of reasons. The trade rescued a 20-year-old Neely from fourth-line minutes, but the man who made the trade, which sent Barry Pederson, to the Canucks for Neely and a first-round pick, notes that Neely may have helped him as much as he helped Neely.
‘If I hadn’t made the trade, I would’ve been probably an advisor to the owner a lot earlier,’ Harry Sinden said with a laugh prior to Wednesday’s award ceremony.
It was in Boston where he established himself as a one-of-a-kind player, as Sinden noted that he has never seen a 50-goal scorer (something Neely was three times in his career, once accomplishing it in 49 games) play with the edge that Neely did, though he pointed to Alexander Ovechkin as the closest thing to it. Neely said Wednesday that the trade to Boston and embracing the style of hockey he knew he could make made all the difference in making the jump from a 14-goal-scorer (his total in his final year in Vancouver) to the player he became.
“Here’s another opportunity to show another organization maybe what I didn’t get the opportunity to show Vancouver,” Neely recalled thinking at the time of the deal. “For me, it was all about playing physical. I knew how I played in junior hockey, and I was playing physical and I knew that I could score goals, but the physical part obviously is a lot easier than scoring goals. I just said to myself, ‘I’m going to go there, and when I have an opportunity to take the body, I’m going to take the body.’ I knew for the most part that I could handle myself if somebody didn’t like that, so I was prepared for what came with me playing physical.”
Jack Parker, another Lester Patrick recipient on Wednesday, spoke highly of the player he saw arrive, noting that Neely’s celebrity in Boston has helped him compile talent in recent years. The three-time NCAA championship-winning Boston University coach felt that having a player like Neely to look up to served in inspiring kids throughout New England to get into hockey. Without Neely, Parker said, the team simply wouldn’t have as many local prospects to choose from.
Now president of the Bruins and someone who inspires the current squad, the impact that Neely has made on an organization, a town, a country, and a sport, continues to be felt. But what if the trade never happened? Aside from Sinden’s quip, Boston sports and hockey in America would be far different.
“I have thought about that, and the only conclusion that I could come up with is that I probably wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did,” Neely said. “What I would have been able to accomplish, I can’t really say. It’s impossible to say, but maybe if I went to another team, something similar would have happened, but obviously coming here was the best thing at the best time for me.”
|10.27.10 at 4:20 pm ET|
The Bruins announced on Wednesday that they wil hold “Milt Schmidt Night” prior to the team’s game against the Maple Leafs on Thursday at TD Garden. The festivities will begin at 5:15 pm, with the unveiling of Schmidt exhibit at the Sports Museum.
Schmidt is the only person in team history to serve as a player, captain, coach and GM with the Bruins. He won two Stanley Cups as a player in 1939 and 1941 and added two more as a GM in 1970 and 1972. He had 229-346= 575 totals with the Bruins in 776 career games.
|10.27.10 at 3:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are preparing for their first match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, in an always-anticipated clash of original six teams. In the 2009-10 season, the Maple Leafs were nothing special, finishing at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 30-38-14 record. Now, eight games into 2010-11, it seems the Leafs have turned things around. Toronto won its first four starts, then dropped three games in a row before picking up a 3-1 victory over the Panthers Tuesday night. The Leafs’ 5-2-1 record currently has them sitting atop the division standings.
‘They’re a good team, they’re a young team,’ Patrice Bergeron said after practice on Wednesday. ‘Their players have developed into good players so I think that’s why they’re improved.’
Right wing Nathan Horton said he knows the Leafs have shown plenty of reasons for other teams to fear them thus far.
“Their defensemen are big, strong, physical, and their forwards are quick and fast,’ Horton said, adding the Bruins will need to be prepared to work for 60 minutes on Thursday. Coach Claude Julien seemed to agree, noting that the B’s are ‘facing a team that’s coming in with lots of confidence, lots of speed and lots of energy.’
Speaking of energy, it has seemed to be just that the B’s have lacked early on in each of their losses this season. On Saturday, the Rangers put up a quick 2-0 lead on the Bruins in the first period, and the Bruins, despite getting goals from Zdeno Chara and Horton, were never quite able to make a full comeback.
‘I think it’s just about making sure we have a good first couple shifts and be good on the forecheck right away,’ Bergeron said. ‘If we get scored one goal against, we’ve got to make sure we keep our balance instead of just getting back over our heels for a couple shifts and letting them score another one.’