Horton, McQuaid missed, should be at full strength next year

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Horton, McQuaid missed, should be at full strength next year

While its no excuse for any hockey team once the playoffs are over, the Boston Bruins werent a healthy team against the Washington Capitals.

They were missing their Game 7 playoff hero in Nathan Horton and one of their biggest, toughest defenseman around the net in Adam McQuaid, and that did have an effect against a Washington Capitals team that played an unexpectedly heavy style during the playoffs.

The size thing cant be understated. Even when you look at, and our replacements, I felt if we get past this round and thats what happens when theres so much parity. If you can get past this round I think you can do some damage, said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. You get a different mindset when youre past that first round. To grind guys down, you need some size and you need some grit. If you look at McQuaid and Horton, I know Horton is a scorer but hes big that he tires out defensemen. Same thing with McQuaid.

When you go back and you look, so youve got Horton, Michael Ryder, Rex Mark Recchi and those guys, for all their style of play they were heavy players. So yeah, you miss some of that this year. When you dont have Horton and McQuaid, it magnifies that and you saw it in Washingtons third and fourth lines. Those are some big, heavier guys like Joel Ward, Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer; those guys lean on people and over a seven game series when teams are close it makes a difference.

The good news for the Bruins now that the season is over: Horton and McQuaid should be fine headed into next season. A full summer off should do wonders to clear the concussion-caused fog plaguing both players, and Chiarelli was counting on both players for next season.

I expect both to make a full recovery. I havent met with McQuaid yet today, but I met with Horton and he was good, said Chiarelli. He said hes feeling a lot better and looking forward to next year. With tracking McQuaids progress in the playoffs, he was coming around and I expect a full recovery.

The Horton injury is clearly a bigger concern, but the winger shouldnt lack for motivation next season with good health and a contract year on tap for the power forward. Theres also no question the Bruins are a better team with these players in the fold, and thats when the Bruins were at their best last season back in November and December.

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre