BOSTON -- Keep it simple, Adam McQuaid tells himself.
Its an important message to stand by when going up against a teams top line and they just so happen to be the team that drafted him six years ago.
Yes, keeping it simple pays off.
Not only did McQuaid score his first goal of the season in the second period to tie the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at one apiece, he played against their top line in the Bruins 2-1 shootout victory on Thursday at TD Garden.
Adams a big guy and he had played against top lines, said coach Claude Julien. Theyre a big, heavy team, so we needed a good physical presence up there. And I feel Adams been playing better the last few games, as far as handling the puck and making better decisions all around on getting beat back to the net and those kinds of things that were haunting him a little bit there earlier.
Hes been a better player for us, and it was nice to see him play well tonight and score the goal that got us back in the game.
After playing in the Blue Jackets organization, McQuaid knew what to expect coming into the game. He spoke Thursday morning about his early encounters with Rick Nash -- I remember doing one-on-one drills and I couldnt believe how strong he was, he recalled. So when it came time for action and Johnny Boychuk was out of the lineup, he was ready for whatever was coming his way.
Its nice to have that opportunity to be relied on, he said. When you get the chance you want to make sure you make the most of it, show that you're capable, and without over-thinking things too much. That was really just my mindset.
McQuaids focus was keeping the Blue Jackets off the scoreboard. Small missteps could prove costly, particularly in a game that came down to a shootout.
Keeping it simple always is a priority, but especially when youre playing against other teams' best players, turnovers they can capitalize on and turn around and make an offensive opportunity out of pretty much nothing, he said. So its really important to make sure you limit your turnovers and just try to play strong defensively, and that was what I was trying to do.
Zdeno Chara, who played on the line with McQuaid, has noticed changes in his teammate this season. He has seen an improvement in his footwork, shot, and vision. After battling through a neck injury and illness, McQuaid is finding his rhythm again.
He stepped up, said Chara. Hes playing against top lines and playing really solid, keeping the plays really simple, and again, he took really some good shots. He scored a goal off that and hes just a really solid defenseman that you can rely on.
McQuaid looks to constantly improve his game, keeping his main focus on skating and puck skills. He has benefited from the experience of last season and uses that to help the Bruins.
That goes for when he plays against any opponent, not just the one that drafted and traded him away.
Said McQuaid, Even though at the time I was drafted I couldnt see myself playing anywhere else, now being in Boston I cant see myself being anywhere else.