Bruins

Vatrano shows 'he wants to be in the lineup'

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Vatrano shows 'he wants to be in the lineup'

BOSTON – Frank Vatrano had been waiting and working all season for a chance at expanding his role. That finally arrived last weekend against the Maple Leafs.

The Bruins dropped a 4-1 decision to Toronto on Saturday night at TD Garden but it was arguably Vatrano’s best game of the season after replacing Jake DeBrusk in the lineup. Vatrano, 23, was given top-six minutes and power play time for the first time all season and he responded with Boston’s only goal and something much closer to the consistent 200-foot game that the Bruins want to see out of him.

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“He was good. [It was a] bounce-back game for him. He kind of showed us, and everyone, I assume, that he wants to be in the lineup every night,” said Bruce Cassidy of Vatrano, who has just the two goals in 12 games after a very sluggish start to the season. “He’s certainly a guy that’s had success in this league. We need him to play a certain way, and I thought he did [against the Leafs].

“He scores a goal we obviously needed him to, but he finished some checks, he blocked some shots. We want a 200-foot game, and if that’s what it entails from night to night, then that’s what we need out of him. He was definitely a positive.”

The goal arrived in the first period and kept the Bruins in the game. Vatrano also showed some nasty with a big early hit on Nikita Zaitsev that was one of the winger’s three hits and two blocked shots on the night. Clearly, Vatrano was fully engaged and pretty effective for the Black and Gold after being scratched on the Friday night loss in Toronto. He has two goals in his past three games played as the confidence begins to flow.

“When you’re getting shots and you’re getting points and goals, you obviously get a lot more confidence and there are some games this year where I thought I played a good solid game and I just wasn’t rewarded on the stat sheets,” said Vatrano. “So, hopefully, they start going in for me. When you score a goal you kinda get a little extra jump in your step. You try to have that extra jump all the time whether you’re scoring or not, but it’s obviously a little boost when you get a goal early.”

Now, the trick for Vatrano is to turn a couple of good games recently into a long stretch of steady production and consistent play that will keep him in the lineup. It could be a real factor for a Bruins team that needs some players up front to step up amid all the injuries. 

McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

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McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

BOSTON – Adam McQuaid had to wait months to get healthy and weeks to finally push back into the lineup once he was over his broken leg, but that was all in the rear view mirror when he made his return to the B’s lineup on Wednesday night. McQuaid was his solid, simple self on the ice in Boston’s 4-1 humbling of the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and immediately made an impact with his size, strength, physicality and penalty killing in the win.

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Afterward McQuaid was happy with the plus-1 rating in 15:12 of ice time while working mostly with rookie Matt Grzelcyk, and he even managed to get four pucks on net while playing assertive, aggressive hockey in the O-Zone. All in all it was a strong return after missing the past 36 games with a broken leg, and it was a much needed dose of again feeling like he’s a part of the team for the selfless, hard-working McQuaid.  

“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just went with the first shift and then the second, and just went down from there. I wanted to try to keep things really simple, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] made life pretty easy to play with…he played really well,” said McQuaid. “All the guys did, so it was nice to be back and be a part of the win, I’m happy to be back.

“It’s nice to be in those situations – you don’t want to be – to be put in that situation. I think guys thrive off of wanting to kill that and be in those situations. Even though I was a little winded at the end of it, it was a good feeling for sure.”

The part that winded McQuaid was killing off a key 5-on-3 Canadiens power play in a tight, one goal game in the second period. McQuaid was second only to Zdeno Chara with his 1:34 of shorthanded ice time in the win over the Bruins, and the PK is clearly a situation where the rich get richer when the shot-blocking, rugged McQuaid draws back into the fold with Kevan Miller “under the weather” this week. 

“We did a good job, real good job [on the penalty kill]. It doesn’t surprise me,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Adam [McQuaid] is very good on the kill. We’ve said that all along, that’s one area we miss when he is out of the lineup.”

Now McQuaid will continue knocking any residual rust off by again drawing into Boston’s lineup on Thursday night in Brooklyn as Miller was left behind in Boston, and a respected B’s veteran is finally getting some run after a long wait. 

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while wondering when my video tribute is coming.

*Great interview with PK Subban, who appropriately lauds Willie O’Ree for his trailblazing, pioneer accomplishment of breaking through the NHL’s color barrier 60 years ago today. It was very cool that O’Ree did it with the Bruins and even cooler that he was in Boston last night from the Bruins-Habs game at TD Garden.

*Speaking of the Canadiens, old friend Joe Morrow decided to show the Canadiens digital people around Southie this week. That was his big accomplishment in these last two Bruins-Habs games.

*The Winnipeg Jets are having some big success this season, but they’ve also got some serious financial considerations coming up.

*The Colorado Avalanche continue to see attendance issues in their building, but at least there’s a reasonably better product on the ice.

*What is the value for power forward Patrick Maroon on the trade market as a rental? It certainly matters who is asking.

*Jack Johnson and John Tortorella are talking out their issues after it surfaced that the Columbus D-man wants a trade out of town.

*With Victor Hedman injured, it looks like young Tampa Bay D-man Slater Koekkoek is finally going to get a featured look with the Lightning. Per Elliotte Friedman, this is a player that the Bruins have eyed in trade possibilities in the recent past.

*For something completely different: Liam Neeson is open to returning as Qui Gon-Jinn, which adds another interesting piece to a standalone movie for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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