Bruins

McQuaid expected to return for first time since October tonight

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McQuaid expected to return for first time since October tonight

BRIGHTON, Mass – After waiting weeks for it to happen, it looks as if Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is going to draw back in for the Bruins.

The veteran defenseman has been healthy since right around Christmastime after recovering from a broken leg suffered blocking a shot back in October, but McQuaid hadn’t been able to bust back into a lineup that’s been winning games. Now, B’s defenseman Kevan Miller has missed back-to-back practices while feeling “under the weather” and coach Bruce Cassidy termed him “doubtful” for tonight’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

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“Kevin Miller is still feeling under the weather, so he’s very doubtful for tonight. I don’t want to completely rule him out, but it doesn’t look good,” said Cassidy. “Adam would be in [if Miller doesn’t play] and it’s looking that way, but let’s give it a few hours. There’s going to be rust. It’s inevitable. We understand that, so we just need to allow him to be himself and play. We’ll expect he’ll want to get rid of the puck quickly based on the limited reps he’s had, but the part of the game he gets back quickly is hopefully his strength.”

So, McQuaid is expected to play for the first time since Oct. 19 in a pairing with rookie Matt Grzelcyk and is excited to lace them up again after a long wait biding his time as a veteran coming back from injury.

“It’s not a regular game because I’ve missed so much time, but it’s probably [a feeling of] excitement more than anything,” said McQuaid, who has an assist and a minus-3 in six games this season. “It probably goes without saying [that you want to play], but it’s been good to watch how the guys have come together. You really feel that off the ice and during practice days and stuff, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to feel that in a game. It will be nice to back on the bench and hopefully add to this run that the guys have been on.”

It won’t be easy for McQuaid dropping right into an emotional Bruins-Canadiens game that’s also Claude Julien’s first game back at TD Garden since getting fired last season. Clearly, he’ll be trying to keep it simple when McQuaid might naturally start trying to do whatever it takes to stay in the regular lineup, but a veteran defenseman knows it’s really all about doing what it takes for the win.

“I’m just going to go out and play, play simple and not overthink things. You let everything else take care of itself and you focus on playing,” said McQuaid, who has missed a span of 36 games headed into tonight.

With McQuaid expected to return, here are the projected line combinations and D-pairings based on an optional morning skate on Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari


Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 
Rask

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Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

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Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months. 

Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin. 

The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.

He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury. 

Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.

Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.

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Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick. 

The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.

Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.

In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.

There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.

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