WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins reconvened for practice on Thursday morning at Ristuccia Arena amidst the Olympic Break, Adam McQuaid was back skating with the group.
Sidelined by a leg injury since January 19, the defenseman had missed the last nine games before the NHL's two-week hiatus.
Prior to the break, he had been working out and started skating, but wasn't yet ready for game action. On Thursday, he spent time with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides on the ice going through the motions, before joining his teammates for the full skate.
It's been a tough season health-wise for McQuaid, who has only suited up in 30 games (dropping the gloves in seven fights to go along with a goal and five assists). He's missed 26 games to various leg/lower-body injuries in stretches of eight or nine games.
"Obviously I missed some time again, and once again, hopefully can kind of ease our way back in here," McQuaid said, following his first practice back with the team since the injury that caused him to leave the Bruins' game in Chicago on January 19.
"It worked out well that everyone had been off the ice for a while before today, and hopefully the next little while will play out the way I want it to, and I'll be back soon."
For the blueliner, the time off without games came at an opportune time.
"To have that extra time to rehab and heal and not miss any games was a bonus. It worked out well that way," said McQuaid. "It's tough watching, and I've missed enough games this year, so to not watch any more games, if there's any positives, you can take a positive from that."
The injury was difficult for the Bruins' trainers and staff to gauge, and there had been no timetable. It's still based on a day-to-day assessment, so there's no telling for sure when McQuaid will be back in the Bruins' lineup.
Boston next faces off in Buffalo on Wednesday, February 26.
In the lead-up to the break, Bruins General Manager was confident it wouldn't be too long before the team would see McQuaid's return.
"I feel he will be back at the start, or if not, close to the start of the resumption after the break," Chiarelli had said on February 8, prior to the Bruins' final game against Ottawa. "I feel confident. He’s been out a while, but from what I’m told, he’s quite close."
While the Bruins' less experienced defense corps has come through and gained confidence amidst McQuaid's absence and an injury-prone back end this season, the "vet" D-man's physical presence, size and stay-at-home nature would be welcome back in the lineup.
With only 25 games left in a span of 47 days, McQuaid is hoping to help out his team in their sprint to the end of the regular season - especially after another tough month of rehab.
"Well it's kind of been the same old song and dance, unfortunately," he said, characterizing the up-and-down recovery time. "Just trying to heal up."
"Have just been rehabbing, and doing everything I can each day, coming in, and hoping to see improvements. And I was really happy to get on the ice again and be out there with the guys," he added, smiling.
"Even though there's a little ways to go, it was just fun to get back out there again."