|Brett Connolly arrives at Bruins practice, Adam McQuaid given maintenance day||03.03.15 at 10:58 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Brett Connolly has arrived in Boston, as the recent trade acquisition joined his new Bruins teammates in Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
Conolly will wear No. 14 with the Bruins. With another practice day before Thursday’s game, the Bruins seemingly eased Connolly in by skating him as the fourth member of Boston’s fourth line. Gregory Campbell, who has been out since last week with an upper-body injury, returned to practice. Peter Chiarelli said Monday that Campbell was “very close” to being ready to return.
Adam McQuaid did not practice, with Claude Julien saying after the practice that the defenseman was given a maintenance day. Given that the Bruins did not practice Sunday or Monday, that’s an awful lot of maintenance.
Max Talbot, Boston’s other trade acquisition, was not on the ice. The lines were as follows:
|Adam McQuaid progressing, Bruins prepare for Predators||12.23.14 at 12:06 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid joined the Bruins for Tuesday’s morning skate prior to Boston’s last game before the Christmas break.
McQuaid, who has not played since breaking his thumb on Nov. 18, is not yet ready to return to the lineup but has been skating since earlier this month. Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate that McQuaid’s rehab is “on track.”
The Bruins will keep the same lineup that they used for the second half of Sunday’s game as they look to head into the holiday with a win over the Predators.
The lineup in morning skate was as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Cunningham
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Griffith – Fraser
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Seidenberg
Krug – Miller
|Adam McQuaid out 6-8 weeks with broken thumb||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.
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|Claude Julien has no update on Adam McQuaid||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.
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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.”
|Adam McQuaid appears to get first turn as potential Johnny Boychuk replacement||10.08.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid probably hoped that he would have been a top-4 defenseman by the time he reached his fifth full NHL season. Now, he kind of is. Maybe. For now.
McQuaid, who has played on Boston’s bottom pairing throughout his NHL career, figures to open the regular season as Dennis Seidenberg‘s defensive partner on Boston’s second pairing, by the looks of morning skate. The spot was held by Johnny Boychuk throughout training camp, but Saturday’s trade of Boychuk left an opening to be filled by McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski or Kevan Miller.
The guess here is that it will eventually be Miller, but for now, McQuaid, who hasn’t played in a regular-season or playoff game since last January, is getting his shot.
“I did feel like [I could be a top-4 player] when I could get some consistency and play a little more,” McQuaid said Wednesday. “I think everyone’s always looking to continue to take steps, but it was kind of hard when I was in and out of the lineup so much.
“It is a great opportunity, but I just need to focus on what I do and not look at as any different as a situation. Whoever I’m playing against, play hard and be aware of who’s out there. That’s all you can do.”
McQuaid and Seidenberg have not played much together in the past. Seidenberg has typically played on Boston’s second pairing in the regular season before playing on the top pairing in the postseason. McQuaid has remained a third-pairing guy.
“We haven’t played with each other a ton, but it’s one of those things,” McQuaid. “We’ve had the same group here for quite a while, for the most part. Guys have been comfortable playing with one another, but we’ve got some shifts together in the preseason. I think he’s a pretty easy guy to play with, so I’m not too worried about that.”
Look for the Bruins to take their time as they try different players with Seidenberg in order to find a full-time Boychuk replacement. For now, it’s McQuaid. The first step to keeping the job will be staying healthy.
|Looking at Bruins’ candidates to replace Johnny Boychuk||10.06.14 at 12:18 pm ET|
The trade of Johnny Boychuk left a tough hole to fill on the right side of the Bruins’ second defensive pairing. Not only was Boychuk a dependable player alongside Zdeno Chara on the top pairing for years, but his work in anchoring the second pairing without Chara in the postseason is what allowed the B’s to team Chara and Dennis Seidenberg with success in the 2011 and 2013 postseasons.
Prior to Saturday’s trade, Boychuk had been skating with Seidenberg on the second pairing. That leaves Seidenberg, who is still shaking the rust off after not playing since last December, without a partner. Assuming that the B’s opt to keep Dougie Hamilton alongside Chara on their top pairing and Torey Krug remains on the third pairing, here are the internal candidates to replace Boychuk:
Bartkowski is a terrific skater who makes the game exciting for both the right and wrong reasons. He was given a top-4 spot (and then had it taken away, and then had it given back, and then had it taken away, etc.) last season when Seidenberg went down, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to return to the second pairing.
Playing Bartkowski on the second pairing would mean that Seidenberg, a left shot who plays the right side when teamed with Chara, would need to move to the right-side to accomodate the left-shooting Bartkowski. Seidenberg and Bartkowski were paired together at points prior to Seidenberg’s injury and again on Saturday night and have not looked good together. By my count, the two played were paired together for eight games last season, with Bartkowski posting an even rating in four of the games, a minus-1 in three of them and a plus-1 in one to combine for a minus-2.
It’s been a weird tenure for Bartkowski in Boston thus far. After being stolen from the Panthers in the hilarious trade that also sent Seidenberg to Boston for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick, Bartkowski was the final cut on the Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 team, spent three years in Providence, was(n’t) traded to the Flames for Jarome Iginla, started last season as the seventh defenseman and eventually was Seidenberg’s replacement.
He was sick to begin last postseason and was a scapegoat of sorts as the Bruins were upset by the Canadiens in the second round, though the Bruins taking him in and out of the lineup in that series in favor of Andrej Meszaros probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do for his confidence.
McQuaid is a solid third-pairing blueliner who is both responsible in his own and end extremely mean wherever he is on the ice. Yet to assume he can be a top-4 defenseman for a full season and postseason would be irresponsible on the part of the Bruins.
Last season was the most frustrating season of what’s been a frustrating NHL career for McQuaid. Since taking Mark Stuart‘s job during the 2010-11 season, McQuaid has dealt with injury after injury, with last year being doomed by a quad injury that limited him to just 30 games. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to return at any point of the postseason, McQuaid got surgery on an ankle that had been bugging him as well.
So, like Seidenberg, McQuaid is trying to regain his form after a long time out of game action (his last regular season game was Jan. 19).
If the Bruins attempt to trade for a top-six forward, McQuaid could still be a candidate to be moved. His $1.56 million cap hit would allow the B’s, who figure to have $3.1 million in cap space going into the season, to add a player who makes decent money provided they also move other assets such as draft picks (they have their first-round pick and have four second-rounders in the next two drafts) or prospects. The Bruins’ depth on D ‘ Zach Trotman is in the AHL because of it ‘ would still make them able to overcome another blueliner, albeit one outside their top-4, being moved.
If all goes well, this is the guy who eventually replaces Boychuk. Miller is a right shot and the strongest player on the Bruins under 6-foot-9. His skill set is the closest to Boychuk’s of any of the players in this group, but he has a long way to go.
Though he got some minutes with Chara and an opportunity to defend a 6-on-5 against the Penguins, the Bruins generally sheltered Miller as a rookie. As a third-pairing player, the Bruins were careful with his matchups (his -.901 CorsiRel quality of competion was the second-lowest on the team; only his partner in Krug player easier minutes). Krug was also the only player with a higher offensive zone start percentage than Miller.
Claude Julien did not shelter Boychuk last season. The B’s put him out against whatever was leftover for opponents after Chara and Patrice Bergeron‘s line discarded the team’s first line. Boychuk had a .385 CorsiRel quality of competition; only Chara (1.5) and Hamilton (.386) played tougher minutes.
This isn’t to suggest that Miller can’t handle an uptick in competition now or won’t be able to later in the season. It just means that if the Bruins are going to give him the opportunity to replace Boychuk, they can’t hide him like they did last season.
The Bruins mix and match with their pairings throughout the season, and the guess is that they’ll probably do that again as they audition Boychuk’s replacements. With three legitimate candidates, don’t assume that whoever’s teamed with Seidenberg Wednesday night will be there all season. The money here is on Miller to be the last man standing.