McQuaid keeps it simple, scores first goal of season

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McQuaid keeps it simple, scores first goal of season

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.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.