Boston, MA --
As the Bruins gear up for tonight’s faceoff against the Chicago Blackhawks, one familiar face will be absent on the ice. Defenseman Andrew Ference
is expected to be out six weeks with a groin injury he suffered during the Bruins decisive victory over the Senators Tuesday.
will replace Ference in tonight’s lineup and is preparing to try and fill the veteran blueliner’s skates.
“I’ve just been trying to keep mentally focused is the biggest thing, and hopefully I’ll be ready come game time tonight,” McQuaid said.
Though the Bruins have their work cut out for them tonight against the powerhouse 30-10-3 Blackhawks, head coach Claude Julien has plenty of confidence in McQuaid, who has played in three NHL games so far in his career.
“We have been pretty fortunate because the guys that have been put in that situation this year, Johnny Boychuk
to start and now [Adam] McQuaid, had great attitudes,” said Julien. “Their work ethic is second to none.”
Ference, who missed 35 games last year due to a fractured leg and groin injury and missed 23 games the in the 2007-’08 season has had an undeniable presence on the ice for the Bruins this season. In the last 10 games, Ference has averaged over 19 minutes of playing time and has played in every game so far this season.
But fellow defenseman Matt Hunwick believes that McQuaid will be able to make a quick and comfortable transition into the gap left by Ference.
“Definitely. You know, [Adam has] proved over his professional career that he can play and is a solid defenseman,” Hunwick said. “After being out [of game action] for such a long time maybe it’s a disadvantage to him, but he’s a guy who can step in obviously and play well for us.”
After morning skate today, his fellow back-liners indicated that they are ready to band together and pick up where Ference left off.
“That’s also the chance for other guys to step up and be more vocal,” said B’s captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara
. “Even if it’s not their nature, I mean they have to understand that for this team to get going, sometimes different people have to step up.”
Tonight’s probable backup, goaltender Tuukka Rask
, agreed that the B’s defense is a cohesive unit that refuses to be undermined by injury or by the opposing team.
As they protect the net, they also protect each other.
“I want to battle for them and they want to battle for us,” said Rask. “They try to do everything they can to not let that puck go in and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
As he prepares for his fourth NHL game, McQuaid says he is simply planning to just remember what he’s learned from the coaches since he’s been in Boston and try not to overcomplicate the game.
“[I will] use my reach, have a good stick, keep things to the other side has kind of been the main points I’ve been given,” said McQuaid. “I guess those are my strengths so you obviously play to your strengths and keep things simple.”