McQuaid a game-time decision for Bruins

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McQuaid a game-time decision for Bruins

TAMPA Adam McQuaid thought things were pretty bad as he left CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday afternoon. He was headed for the hospital while his team was still playing on the ice.

The towering defenseman was on the receiving end of a shoulder-to-shoulder hit with Pittsburgh Penguins power forward James Neal, and McQuaid immediately crumpled up and skated off the ice in severe pain while play continued.

The Bs defensemen couldnt make it back to the Bruins bench on his own, and the team was obviously thinking worst-case scenario after watching the wince-worthy sequence of events.

But McQuaid checked out okay at the Pittsburgh hospital and was back out on the ice Tuesday morning for a pregame skate at the Tampa Times Forum. He was preparing to play, and Julien indicated following the skate that Mike Mottau will be a healthy scratch.

Its going to come down to a choice between Greg Zanon and McQuaid for the final defensemen spot against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Julien might just err on the side of caution.

I know McQuaid and Patrice Bergeron are possibilities, but not certainties," Julien said. "Well dress 13 forwards and seven defensemen for the pregame warm-ups tonight. Well know more later, and well know even more after warm-ups. We had no idea how bad things were with the injuries on Sunday. Bergeron and McQuaid were in bad shape. They couldnt even finish up the game.

It was a hit that really hurt McQuaid to the point where he had to go to the hospital to get checked out. But it looks like a little bit of a break on our end that they were able to skate with us so quickly. We want to play with players that are as healthy as they can be. One thing you dont want is to put them in at 70 percent and then you lose them for another week or two. So you want to make sure the decision is the right one with all of these guys.

McQuaid doesnt appear to be quite 100 percent and may end up a healthy scratch given Bostons depth along the blue line. But McQuaids presence at the skate was a testament to his toughness and willingness to play through pain.

Im feeling better with each day and making steady progress. Ill come to the rink prepared to play, but weve got a lot of healthy D right now. So well see what happens, said McQuaid. It was something I hadnt experienced before, so I wasnt sure how bad it was. To be where I am today from Sunday means Im making pretty good progress.

Depth is never a negative thing. In a situation of injuries or when everybody is healthy it keeps a good competition for people to want to stay in the lineup.

The gritty defensemen admitted he was pretty concerned right after the car-crash collision that his injury was something serious.

There is always a little bit of concern right away. But I got all checked out and everything worked out. It put my mind at ease a little bit and you just worry about getting better, said McQuaid.

Consider McQuaid one of the walking wounded ready to suit up for the Bruins as the team has a considerable number of players in the Black and Gold infirmary.

Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

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Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.

This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics  - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.

Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

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Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

BOSTON -- Early in 2016 praises were sung around the league that Xander Bogaerts was the best hitter in baseball.

Rightfully so. For a good portion of the season he led the league in both batting average and hits. But between Mookie Betts’ ascension and Bogaerts’ drop in average from .331 on 7/29 to .306 after Monday night’s game, he’s taken a back seat.

But the Red Sox shortstop’s month-long dry spell hasn’t been a straight decline. Although he was held hitless Monday, Bogaerts went 6-for-13 (.462) against Kansas City.

In fact, the 23-year-old doesn’t even consider the recent month of struggles the worst stretch of his career.

“2014 probably,” Bogaerts said, “yeah I had a terrible, terrible few months -- probably three months.”

That was of course the season a lot came into question surrounding the now All-Star shortstop, so he was pretty spot on. In 2014 Bogaerts went from hitting .304 through 5/31, to .248 by the end of June, .244 after his last game in July, all the way down to .224 by the last day of August.

Bogaerts would hit .313 that September and finish with a .240 average -- but more importantly, an appreciation of what he’d experienced.

“That definitely helped me become a better person, a better player -- and understanding from that and learning,” Bogaerts said.

From that experience, he gained a better understanding of the importance of maintaining a consistent day-to-day routine.

“That has to stay the same,” Bogaerts said without question in his voice. “The league adjusted, they adjusted to me. It kind of took a longer time to adjust to them. They’ve just been pitching me so differently compared to other years.”

Bogaerts has had the point reinforced to him throughout, with Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez serving as one voice of reinforcement.

“When you have a routine from the mental side, physical side, when you struggle that’s when you really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so good with his daily preparation, it doesn’t matter the result of the game. He can always go to something that feels comfortable.”

“He’s been so comfortable and confident with his daily routine and preparation that it allows him -- when he doesn’t get the results he wants in the game -- to have some peace knowing that the next day, we’re going to go back to doing that again.”

It’s clear Bogaerts needs to maintain his daily routine to help work through slumps -- and maintain hot streaks -- but Rodriguez made it clear, consistent preparation from a hitter doesn’t magically cure every problem.

“That doesn’t mean that because you stick with the routine you’re going to have results,” Rodriguez said. “What it means is, [because] you know and believe in that routine that you know you’re going to get out of it.”

Which means in addition to sticking to his normal routine, Bogaerts also had to identify flaws elsewhere in order work through his problems. He came to realize the problem was more mechanically based than mental -- given he’d done everything to address that.

“They pitched me differently, and some stuff I wanted to do with the ball I couldn’t do,” Bogaerts said. “I just continued doing it until I had to make the adjustment back.”

Bogaerts isn’t fully out of the dark, but he’s taken steps in the right direction of late -- and is nowhere near the skid he experienced in 2014. He and Rodriguez fully believe the All-Star’s ability to maintain a clear mind will carry him through whatever troubles he’s presented with the rest of the way.

“The more stuff you have in you’re head is probably not going to help your chances,” Bogaerts explained, “so have a clear mind -- but also have the trust in your swing that you’re going to put a good swing on [the pitch] regardless of whatever the count is.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.