Bruins

McQuaid keeps it simple, scores first goal of season

591590.jpg

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.

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

bruins_david_backes_121216.jpg

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

MORE:

After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

bruins_tuukka_rask_110315.jpg

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

MORE:

That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.