The defenseman left Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals during the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.
McQuaid went hard into the boards and glass after a hit from behind by Zach Sill at 4:47 into the period and stayed on the ice for a few minutes while being tended to by Bruins medical staff. He eventually was able to sit up and was helped gingerly to the bench by his teammates before heading down the tunnel. On Wednesday evening, Sill was suspened two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding.
“No further update on him,” Head Coach Claude Julien said of McQuaid when he addressed the media following Wednesday’s practice.
Julien did not yet know whether or not the blueliner would be traveling on the team’s upcoming five-game road trip that begins in New Jersey on Friday night.
“Don’t know,” Julien said. “That’s where we’re at right now with him.”
In addition to the absence of McQuaid, the Bruins practiced without Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron — though their absences were simply due to maintenance days.
“Those guys are obviously playing big minutes, so a little maintenance for them,” said Julien.
The Bruins have relied heavily on their top players in the wake up roster juggling due to a variety of circumstances like Brad Marchand’s suspension and David Krejci’s upper-body injury.
Though Joonas Kemppainen’s return from injury helps the Bruins down the middle, they’ll continue to lean on young players like Ryan Spooner to take on larger roles.
“I think the biggest change for me was going from playing 13 and a half minutes — and I play 20 [now],” said Spooner. “So it’s a bit of a change for me, but I’m excited for it at the same time.”
With McQuaid’s status is unknown moving forward, the Bruins’ defense corps will also need to step up, especially as they embark on a tough road trip.
If McQuaid can’t suit up, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman could get sustained time in the lineup joining Kevan Miller on the right side. Left shot Joe Morrow could also slot into the lineup, if Torey Krug or Dennis Seidenberg play their off side on the right.
“I would say, first of all, you have what you have at your disposal,” Julien said of his group of blueliners. “You don’t have a choice but to count on the people that are here and you’ve got to make it work. That’s part of our job as coaches to make it work and that’s part of their job — to take advantage of the opportunity that’s going to be given to them.”
“This is what you have extra players for — to replace guys when there’s some injuries and we’ll see where we’re at when that trip starts and what we decide to go with.”
Marchand still has one game left to serve on his three-game suspension, and still counts as being on the roster, giving the Bruins 13 forwards. Depending on McQuaid’s availability, the Bruins could start their road trip with seven defensemen.
With the roster in flux, Julien was asked by a reporter if David Pastrnak would be called up for the trip.
“No idea. Our upper management is now busy and I haven’t talked to them today, so we’ll see how that goes,” said Julien. “We still have two more days before a game, so we’ll see what decision gets made from there.”
Those two days are not only serving as time to make decisions, but also as time for the Bruins to rest up, recover and get set for a grind of six games in nine days book-ended by two back-to-back sets. It won't be easy. Following Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Capitals, the Bruins have now lost two straight and five of their last six games.
There are no moral victories at this level, even if the Black & Gold weren’t disappointed with their effort against the NHL’s top team in the Capitals.
“Well, the effort was good, but I think we’re certainly looking for results right now,” said Julien, whose squad remains in a playoff position, nursing the second Wild Card spot despite their dip.
“It’s just as important as the effort. So when you’ve gone through a little bit of a stretch like this where you haven’t won much, you want to turn it around and hopefully we can do that on this upcoming road trip.”
Practice Lineup 1/6
Brad Marchand—Landon Ferraro—Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey—Ryan Spooner—Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano—Joonas Kemppainen—Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo—Max Talbot—Tyler Randell
Dennis Seidenberg—Colin Miller
Torey Krug—Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow—Zach Trotman
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson