'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' McQuaid fires up Bruins teammates


'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' McQuaid fires up Bruins teammates

WILMINGTON, MA It seemed inevitable that the Bruins would drag themselves off the mat, and make a showing of it despite falling behind to an ornery New York Rangers bunch on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
That did eventually happen as the Bruins forced things into overtime before salvaging a point in the 4-3 loss the kind of effort that could be a difference-maker in a short 48-game schedule.
But every hockey club needs a tipping point or a pivotal moment where the moment reverses direction, and Bs teammates credited Adam McQuaid with providing that moment by pummeling Hinghams own Brian Boyle at the end of the first period.
McQuaid had a really nice fight for us and that gave us some of the momentum to come back, said Johnny Boychuk.
The Bruins had been outscored 2-0 and outshot 11-8, and looked as pushed on their heels as all of the numbers would indicate. So perhaps Boyle thought he could push it when he skated over the blue line off-sides and then fired a puck at McQuaid after the whistle had blown the play dead.
But the shot after the whistle proved to be a little too excessive, and McQuaid proceeded to head right for the Rangers center before pounding him with a series of heavy rights and left jabs. Eventually the refs broke things up when it was clear Boyle wanted nothing to do with the flurry of punches, and McQuaid was whistled for a roughing minor on top of his five-minute major for fighting.
This marked the second time in less than a week that Boyle was in the middle of things against the Bruins. Last weekend he was slapped with an extra penalty for jawing with the officials which prompted John Tortorella to tell him to shut his goddamned mouth following that game.
The Bruins killed off the McQuaid roughing penalty and credited the tough guy defensemans bout with snapping them out of their sleepy little funk.
Hes such a mean guy. Its almost scary like with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, said Brad Marchand. Hes so nice off the ice, but when you get on there youd hate to play against him. Hes fun to watch and fun to have on your team.
For a guy that admitted he's still looking to find his game prior to Wednesday night's highly entertaining playoff-style battle with the Rangers, it appears McQuaid is settling right into what he's always been.
Once again the lesson should be learned by the opposition: poking the Bruins bear can be hazardous to your teams winning and losing.

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.


*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.