Adam McQuaid isnt quite satisfied that hes back to his normal hard-to-play-against, stay-at-home self, and is starting to feel that urgency that comes with a shortened 48-game schedule.
The Bruins blueliner looked mean, strong and, well, normal while trading body blows in the battle areas with physical forwards like Ryan Callahan in Saturday nights opener against the Rangers. But McQuaid also felt like he took a slight step back in the seasons second game against the Winnipeg Jets, and hes still trying to get a feel for everything going down on the ice.
I think theres definitely some room for improvement. The first game wasnt too bad. I know the last game wasnt as good as the first game, said McQuaid, who didnt even skate until December because of two serious blood clot surgeries he underwent in the fall. Ive just got to get used to the physical side again. Youve also got to get used to your positioning. Its like what I mentioned after the exhibition game about getting things back to second nature rather than youre thinking about them on the ice.
McQuaid has doled out seven hits while averaging 15:43 of ice time in his first two games, and he was noticeable while battling Callahan in front in Boston's season-opening win. Only Milan Lucic (14) and Zdeno Chara (10) have more registered hits than McQuaid in the first two Bruins games of the season.
So perhaps hes being a little too hard on himself, though it was McQuaid and Andrew Ference that blew the assignment leading to Kyle Wellwoods breakaway chance on Monday for Winnipeg. Luckily for them, Tuukka Rask covered for the missed assignment.
Claude Julien has liked what hes seen thus far out of McQuaid, a key strong-armed cog in their defensemen corps.
"I liked his game against the Rangers," Julien said after Boston's win over New York. "When you compare it to the scrimmage you saw two totally different players. He went back to his basics of keeping his game simple, and being physical and mean.
"He was letting other players know that it wasnt going to be fun to play against him. I liked his game and I actually mentioned that to him."
Looks like McQuaid will try to look for that improvement by getting back to that simple, mean game against the very same Rangers team tonight in New York.