Rough return for McQuaid

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Rough return for McQuaid

BOSTON -- Adam McQuaid missed several weeks while working his way back from a headneck injury, and --unfortunately -- he found himself in the thick of things in his first game back for the Bruins.

McQuaid was on the ice for both goals allowed, and committed a rough turnover on an errant pass intercepted by Tomas Plekanec for the game-winning goal in Montreals 2-1 victory over the slumping Bruins at TD Garden. Plekanec took the errant McQuaid pass aimed for Patrice Bergeron in the neutral zone, moved into the offensive zone with speed in the third period and didnt give up when his first shot was blocked by McQuaids imposing 6-foot-4 frame. The puck bounced right back onto his stick and Tim Thomas was too late scrambling to regain position.

McQuaid blocked it first and it blocked right back to him, that always messes everything up, all the angles and everything, said Thomas, who made 33 stops in defeat. Then you have Plekanec, I mean he took a shot from ten feet away, hes a goal scorer.

Claude Julien was asked to assess McQuaids performance in his first game back from injury, and it was pretty clear he wasnt ready to put the defenseman into any other different category aside from the rest of his struggling teammates.

Its his first game back, surmised Julien. The way were playing right now, its too easy to jump on guys, and Im not going to do that.

McQuaid finished with 14:52 of ice time and fired a pair of shots on the Montreal net, and otherwise appeared healthy and ready to jump back into the Bs regular rotation moving forward. But the rangy Bs blueliner was discouraged at the lackluster team result following the game just as he was pumped to be ready for game play on Thursday morning prior to puck drop.

We were a little scrambly and probably at times trying to force things and make things happen when theyre not there, said McQuaid. When you try to force things a lot of time it can force turnovers.

I felt good as far as my skating and stuff like that. For the most part being in game situations I felt pretty good. But obviously Im not very happy with the end results, so take it with a grain of salt I guess.

The good news for McQuaid and the Bruins: He's healthy and ready to start playing in a string of games as opposed to the Bruins being forced to play Steve Kampfer or Matt Bartkowski. Both should be able to contribute in time, but its still clear McQuaid is the best choice for a bottom-pairing role when all six Bs defensemen are slotted into the lineup correctly.

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.