WILMINGTON -- Adam McQuaid was more than relieved to re-join his Bruins teammates for a normal practice without restrictions as the team got together for their first session at Ristuccia Arena coming out of the Olympic break. McQuaid hadn’t been healthy enough to practice prior to the team’s breaking up for the Olympics in early February, and a couple of weeks has clearly done him some good.
Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward and the rest of the B’s coaching staff ran the practice, and the only participants missing were the five Olympic athletes that had flown to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Games.
McQuaid missed the final nine games of the season for the Bruins after injuring his leg in the shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 19, and has missed 27 games altogether this season with an assortment of lower body injuries in a frustrating year for the rugged blueliner. Kevan Miller has stepped up and ably filled in for him during his absences, but McQuaid badly wants to get back in on the action.
“Considering the layoff it really did feel great skating with the guys,” said McQuaid. “It’s tough because it’s been the same story every time. This time we’re coming into the stretch run, and I want to make sure I’m playing, and that I’m finding my game headed into playoff time.
“It works out okay that today was everybody’s first time on the ice for a while. It wasn’t like I was just jumping in with a bunch of other guys that are up to [full] speed. It was a bit of a feeling out process for everybody, and it worked out in that way. Hopefully I’ll find my feet just as quickly as everybody else.”
It should also be a relief to the 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenseman to know that B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli intends on keeping his defenseman corps together, and that means McQuaid will be a part of the lineup when he is healthy enough to return. Similarly he’ll be a part of the playoff mix as well when injuries and attrition force NHL teams into holding at least eight D-men (four on the left side, and four on the right side) that can handle the physicality, pressure and speed associated with the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There might have been fear that McQuaid and Miller made for redundancy in that they are both rugged, physical, right shot stay-at-home defenseman, but the Bruins can never have enough of those capable playing at the NHL level.
McQuaid couldn’t say whether he’d be fully cleared to play for the Feb. 26 game against the Buffalo Sabres once the NHL regular season starts up again, but his goal is to be healthy for the final 25 games and ensuing playoff run.