McQuaid surprised, honored to get an 'A'

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McQuaid surprised, honored to get an 'A'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Adam McQuaid was as surprised as anybody when he walked into the TD Garden dressing room prior to Thursday nights preseason game against the Senators, and spotted the 'A' on the shoulder of his sweater.

He spent the evening as the alternate captain alongside Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara in the 2-1 loss to the Sens, and the 24-year-old defenseman took it as a huge compliment heading into his third season with the Black and Gold.

I walked into the room before the game and saw it, but kind of pretended like I didnt see it, said McQuaid. But then some of the guys started kidding me about it a little bit, and it was out in the open at that point. Im such a young guy in a room full of veterans, so I wasnt really expecting it or anything.

"But I take it as a really big compliment from the coaching staff and my teammates. Im not a big talker, but I try to lead by example with hard work and dedication.

The 6-foot-4 defenseman has the respect of every other player inside the Bruins dressing room given the effort he puts into his game, and the willingness to drop the gloves in defense of fallen teammates. The 2005 second round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets became more than just a fighting defenseman last season, though, and established himself as a capable stay-at-home D-man with a possible future as a shutdown defensemen.

He nearly led the Bruins with a plus-30 rating in 67 regular season games last year and 15 points in an impressive bit of offensive improvement, and has clearly made an impression on the Bs coaching staff as a quiet source of leadership.

A lot of players have had the A letter in preseason. Looking at the guys that had it and the guys that hadnt, I thought he was a good candidate for that, said coach Claude Julien. I think hes well-respected from his teammates and hes a guy that competes hard every night. Hes a hard, honest player and I thought he was deserving of wearing it.

Theres no indication as to what the Bruins will do with the second alternate captain once the regular season starts, but McQuaid is simply concentrating on skating with different defensemen partners getting ready for whatever the season holds.

I think its been getting better as the season is coming along. A lot of times were kind of mismatched around with our pairings, said McQuaid. So youre out there with different guys a lot. I think obviously theres room out there for improvement, but thats what the preseason is for. We have another game to make sure were ready when the season starts.

Given the three-year commitment that the Bruins made to McQuaid that will keep him and his flowing mullet in Boston for the foreseeable future, he couldnt be more ready to start the season and keep working on his blue collar defensemen game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.