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Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them 11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

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. “€œThey’€™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.

“€œThat’€™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.

“€œIs 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. “€œYou’€™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.”

Read More: Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug
Brad Marchand out for Bruins Friday vs. Blue Jackets 11.20.14 at 3:09 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Brad Marchand,
Adam McQuaid out 6-8 weeks with broken thumb 11.19.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

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.

Both Dougie Hamilton and Brad Marchand missed Wednesday’€™s practice as well. Marchand is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while Claude Julien told reporters Hamilton is battling the flu.

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.

Read More: Adam McQuaid,
Claude Julien has no update on Adam McQuaid 11.18.14 at 11:48 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Adam McQuaid,
5 things we learned as Bruins shut out one of best teams in NHL without Zdeno Chara 11.18.14 at 9:37 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season Tuesday.  (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season Tuesday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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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Adam McQuaid on David Krejci’s in-and-out season: ‘I can definitely relate’ 11.18.14 at 12:33 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid hopes David Krejci can return to the Bruins' lineup for good. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Adam McQuaid hopes David Krejci can return to the Bruins’ lineup for good. (Elsa/Getty Images)

David Krejci‘€™s in-and-out-of-the-lineup season hasn’€™t been easy on him or the Bruins, but one teammate doesn’€™t have to look too far back to remember what it’€™s like.

“I can definitely relate,” Adam McQuaid said Tuesday. “It’€™s not easy.”

Krejci has missed a total of nine games this season due to what is believed to be a hip injury-turned-somewhere-else-in-the-lower-body injury. He missed the first three games of the season, returned for nine, sat two, played one and sat the last four. He is nearing his latest return to the lineup and is a possibility to play Tuesday against the Blues.

Though the injuries may not be the same, the frustration of coming back into the lineup only to leave it again is similar. McQuaid suffered a lower-body injury in the 15th game of last season and went on to miss eight games before returning to play 15 more. He came up lame again on Jan. 19 against the Blackhawks and, despite thinking at times that he was nearing a return, did not play another game the rest of the season. The team said they were shutting him down for 2-3 weeks in March due to a quad strain, but the setbacks he had piled up and eventually led to him being shut down for the year and given surgery on another area that needing cleaning up in his ankle.

As McQuaid looks back on his 2013-14 and how he can relate to Krejci, he says the frustrating part is thinking you’€™re ready to go only to find out that you aren’€™t.

“When I went through it, you’€™re trying to gauge where you’€™re at, and you take the proper steps and it’€™s like, ‘€˜OK, I feel good.’€™ Then you try the next thing,” McQuaid said. “Until you try the next thing, you don’€™t know. Sometimes it doesn’€™t go as planned, and then the competitive [aspect] — wanting to push yourself to get back a little bit quicker than you should at times –€” probably doesn’€™t help. It takes a little time.”

This season, McQuaid hasn’€™t had to worry about such uncertainty. He’€™s played in all 19 games for the Bruins thus far ‘€” the longest stretch of consecutive games he’€™s had since the lockout-shortened season ‘€” and has been an important part of a blue line that has lost Johnny Boychuk to a trade and has also lost Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Torey Krug to various injuries at points.

There was a time while McQuaid was out last season that it appeared he would ultimately be expendable on Boston’€™s back end, but it has become the opposite. McQuaid, who has played 19:55 a night this season, has taken on the opposition’€™s top-six forwards regularly after serving as a third-pairing guy for the vast majority of his first four seasons when in the lineup.

“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,” he said. “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.”

McQuaid can only hope that the similarities between his 2013-14 season and Krejci’€™s 2014-15 season end now. Krejci is the Bruins’€™ best offensive player and has been a point-a-game player with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his 10 games played this season.

Once Krejci returns, McQuaid has his fingers crossed that everything will be back to normal and that Krejci won’€™t have to experience what McQuaid did a season ago.

“That’€™s the hope,” he said. “I haven’€™t gone into great detail with him about how he’€™s getting along. I mean, we’€™ve talked a little here and there, but again, now is the time if you need the extra time, to take it. At the same time, it’€™s hard. If you’€™re feeling good, you’€™re going to go. If you’€™re feeling good, you’€™re not going to take extra time if you don’€™t feel like you need it. Hopefully when he’€™s back, he’€™s back and back to stay.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, David Krejci,
Brad Marchand out vs. Blues, David Krejci and Kevan Miller could return 11.18.14 at 11:40 am ET
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Brad Marchand left Bruins morning skate after one line rush and was subsequently declared out for Tuesday’€™s game against the Blues.

Marchand, who missed the final 13:45 of Saturday’€™s game with an undisclosed injury, practiced Monday and was termed “probable” at the time by Julien. Asked whether Marchand’€™s ailment was a concussion or head injury, Julien said it was not.

Tuesday will mark Marchand’s first missed game of the season. In 19 games thus far, Marchand is tied with Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith for the team lead with five goals.

David Krejci (lower-body) participated in morning skate and centered his regular linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Julien said that the team didn’€™t know yet whether he would be in. Julien added that if a callup was made Tuesday, it would mean Krejci would be out.

Kevan Miller, who is cleared to play, also participated in the morning skate. Julien said the B’€™s will dress seven defensemen in warmups and decide afterwards whether Miller will be in the lineup. Miller has not played since suffering a dislocated shoulder in a fight on Oct. 18.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Kevan Miller,
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