BOSTON -- They say it all the time.
The Bruins want to be a tough team to play against. Right now, that's not necessarily the case. But the type of player who exemplifies that tough, physical style the B's would like to portray, is Adam McQuaid.
The 6-foot-5 defenseman returned to the Bruins' lineup on Thursday night after missing 11 games because of a strained shoulder he suffered on March 19 in Winnipeg.
McQuaid was on the ice for both New York Islanders goals in a 2-1 Bruins loss, but nobody on the team was about to knock his performance in his first game back from injury.
"He hadn't played in a while, and he's a good physical presence back there," said coach Claude Julien after the loss. "He plays hard, he plays mean. And for the most part, he did a good job of moving the puck. Like I said, certainly that [second] goal was a bad bounce. And that's all it was. But I'm certainly not disappointed in his game."
There was nothing McQuaid could do about New York's first goal, which was a laser from Josh Bailey from the top of the left circle on an odd-man rush.
But the Islanders' second goal -- and the game-winner -- was scored after an Islanders dump up the left boards took a bad bounce over McQuaid's stick in the neutral zone. Bailey used his speed to get around the Bruins' defenseman and walk in uncontested at the left circle.
In fairness to McQuaid, the shot hit Tuukka Rask and trickled in behind him. It was a puck Rask should have stopped.
"It was just an unlucky bounce for [McQuaid] in the neutral zone when they scored that goal," said Zdeno Chara after the loss. "I thought he played well. He kept it simple. You could tell he was physical. And I thought he played well."
McQuaid acknowledged that while he doesn't feel like he played a bad game, there is "room for improvement."
But that's expected for a young guy who plays a physical game, coming off a shoulder injury.
"When I could be, I tried to be physical," said McQuaid afterwards. "But at the same time, not really running around. So I was kind of trying to play good positionally. It has been a while since I've been in a game situation, so I guess, considering that, it probably wasn't too bad. But compared to where I think I need to be, [I'm] probably not where I want to be. But I'll work to get there."
The Bruins will need McQuaid to get there. They'll need him to make those improvements. And they'll need him to be a physical presence on the back end by the time the playoffs roll around in a few weeks, if they truly want to become a tough team to play against again.