McQuaid keeps it simple, scores first goal of season


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.

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Don Sweeney and the Bruins aren’t expected to be big players Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline, understandable since they've won six of seven under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

But they might be feeling a little more pressure to do something as many Atlantic Division teams -- and Eastern Conference ones, for that matter -- are making moves.

The biggest headline-grabber occurred out of division as the Washington Capitals shipped a first-round pick, two forwards and a conditional second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a young goaltender. Shattenkirk will turn the already explosive Capitals into a strong Stanley Cup contender, maybe even the favorite. And the pressure's on for them to deliver, since it’s expected the 28-year-old All-Star will head to the New York Rangers in free agency this summer. 

Shattenkirk had been linked to the Bruins in the past but they weren’t about to pay that exorbitant a price for a rental, not while they're still more rebuilder than contender even as they push for the playoffs. Moreover, the Bruins weren’t going to do a sign-and-trade for a player who's going to command a seven-year, $49 million deal on the open market and would ostensibly be blocking the top-4 development of both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as stud, right shot D-men. 

Instead, expect the Bruins to invest heavily over the next year in a potential top pairing left-side defenseman who could eventually step in for Zdeno Chara. 

The highest impact moves that concerned the Bruins during Monday’s flurry of activity, however, were the divisional teams they’re competing with direction for playoff spots:

-- The Maple Leafs made a sneaky big move in shipping out a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for gritty, battle-tested, third-line center Brian Boyle, who will bring size, sandpaper and character to a young Toronto team pushing for the playoffs. 

-- Ottawa sent a prospect to Vancouver for bad boy Alex Burrows, whose claim to fame is biting Patrice Bergeron during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators and Bruins wplay each other three times in Boston’s final 20 games in the kind of matchup that could dictate the playoff fate for both clubs, and Burrows' cheap-shot antics will undoubtedly make the Sens a tougher team to play down the stretch. 

-- The Canadiens shored up their defense group by adding Dallas D-man Jordie Benn in exchange for young defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. They did so before pulling off an important, come-from-behind win over the Devils on Monday night. 

The Bruins woke up Tuesday morning still holding their third-place spot in the Atlantic Division and still very much in control of their own destiny. But there’s no denying Boston’s competitors have all improved themselves. The gauntlet has been passed to Sweeney and the Bruins to do something smart for the long haul, but to also improve right now if the right deal presents itself. 

That could mean dealing off veteran players like Matt Beleskey or John-Michael Liles if there’s an interested party. It could mean picking up a cheap rental like Radim Vrbata or Dmitry Kulikov if the price is right. Or it could mean standing pat and not messing with a team playing its best hockey of the season. 

One thing is clear: Monday's moves have increased the Bruins' degree of difficulty for ending their two-year playoff drought. 

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Patrice Bergeron said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich that he sent Claude Julien a text congratulating him on getting a new job with the Canadiens. Asked then by Fred Toucher whether he secretly celebrated that Julien might ruin Montreal’s season, Bergeron opted not to respond. 

Jokes aside, Bergeron said that while he figured that Julien would get a head-coaching job after his dismissal from the Bruins, he was surprised to see it happen in Montreal.

“It was definitely a surprise, especially that quickly,” Bergeron said. “I knew he was going to turn around and find another job somewhere in the NHL. I didn’t know if it was going to be, I don’t know if it was a week or less than a week.” 

Julien coached Bergeron for parts of 10 seasons in Boston. He is 3-2-0 thus far in his second stint with the Habs. 

“I was surprised, but at the same time, I wish him all the best,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, it’s tough to do when it’s in Montreal.”