-- If Adam McQuaid
has his way, he will be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay on Saturday (8 p.m. ET VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
The Bruins defenseman, who suffered a neck injury in Game 2 of Boston's second-round sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers
, insisted Thursday that he is ready for whatever the Tampa Bay Lightning
possibly could throw at him in the third round.
"As far as I know, I should be good to go," McQuaid said after a spirited practice here at the TD Garden on Thursday. "I feel good. I guess we'll see when the time comes."
Well, there shouldn't be much suspense, as a few minutes later, coach Claude Julien
announced McQuaid would be ready for the next round.
"We're pretty confident that he will be ready," Julien said. "Again, we can make that decision on Saturday, but he is feeling better; he's had some time obviously to heal. He's in practice doing all the things he's supposed to do, so unless there is a setback, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be a possibility for Saturday."
Certainly, the six days Boston has had off since beating Philadelphia -- a total that will grow by another day before the series starts Saturday -- has helped McQuaid get back into the fray.
McQuaid also said that Thursday's hard practice -- which featured several battle drills and some up-tempo skating -- convinced him that there is no reason for him to be concerned.
"It was a little more quick movement and stuff, and physical contact," McQuaid said. "It was nice to get back into the battle-type situations."
If McQuaid does return Saturday, he most likely will slot back into the third defensive pair, with Tomas Kaberle
, and be spotted into action. Throughout the Philadelphia series, Julien increasingly went with a four-man rotation on the blue line, and he seems to have grown comfortable with that model.
Now, with more than a week of rest under their belt, Julien should have no concerns about playing his top pair, Dennis Seidenberg
and Zdeno Chara
, the 28 minutes or so a game he asked them to log in the past round.
McQuaid isn't concerned with his role as much as he is with just getting back on the ice, something that appeared to be in doubt after he crashed head-first into the end boards after missing a big check on Mike Richards
early in Game 2.
"I've been out a little longer than the other guys; I can only imagine that they are ready to go," McQuaid said. "It's been longer for me and I'm just anxious to get things started. It was nice to get a little rest, but at this point we are just anxious to get going."