WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid has gotten plenty of attention this season, but each time he’s been in the spotlight, it seems it’s been because of another player. That’s generally the life of a healthy scratch, but it’s a life McQuaid no longer leads.
When Johnny Boychuk‘s forearm ended up being fractured following a slash he took from Brandon Dubinsky on Oct. 23 against the Rangers, McQuaid, who had spent the first six games of the season in a suit, got the call. He’s received attention lately for post-practice battle drills with Marc Savard, something the team hopes will get the center ready for the physical aspect of the game. Now, the questions about McQuaid regard how he can step in and replace Matt Hunwick, who the team traded to Colorado on Monday in a team to clear cap space.
“It’s an opportunity. I’m not going to try and change too much,” McQuaid. “I’m obviously not going to step in and replace what [Hunwick] did. I’ll just play my own game, and hopefully secure a spot.”
Indeed, McQuaid will not replace what Hunwick brought to the table, as speed and puck-moving are not McQuaid’s forte. Instead, McQuaid’s safe and bruising style (and right-handed shot) will have to suffice. The “secure a spot” talk doesn’t really apply to McQuaid right away at least, as the move to send Hunwick out was also a vote of confidence for McQuaid from the Bruins. This isn’t a quick fix or a temporary replacement while a guy is hurt — McQuaid is now part of the six, something he hasn’t been able to say without somebody being injured.
“It can be mentally tough when you’re in and out of the lineup, and from game to game not sure if you’re going to play,” McQuaid said. “I think if anything, it’s made me mentally tougher. Being here all year and practicing, it gives me the opportunity to be up here at this level.”
In 10 games this season, McQuaid has an assist and an even rating to go along with 21 penalty minutes. His teammates know that there’s some give and take involved with swapping McQuaid in for Hunwick, but they’re excited to see what he can do with a job that is definitely his own.
“It gives us another right-handed shot. Hunwick’s a good skater, and it gives an opportunity for Adam to step in and do a good job,” Boychuk said.
McQuaid played in 19 games last year, registering one goal and 21 penalty minutes before adding six more penalty minutes in nine playoff games. A lower-body injury forced him out of Game 3 against the Flyers and kept him out for the rest of the playoffs.
“He was basically playing very safe last year. He didn’t want to make mistakes, and I think this year, he’s got more confidence,” Julien said. “That confidence is coming from a little bit more experience. That’s probably what’s changed the most about his game.”
McQuaid will play his 11th game of the season when the Bruins take on the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday.