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McQuaid Prepared to Put Best Effort Forward

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins -- It has been a long road back for Adam McQuaid.

Last year, the veteran defenseman was limited to a mere 30 games as he battled a variety of injuries. As soon as one healed, another seemed to develop. He was sidelined by a nagging quad injury early in the season, and right around the end of the Olympic break -- just when he thought he had gotten past it -- it reared its ugly head again.

Then, late in the season came the ankle injury which required surgery and would rule him out for the entire postseason.

Suffice to say, McQuaid is ready to turn the page, forget about last season and begin anew in 2014-15.

"I'm feeling much better, and it certainly feels good to get out with the guys and get going," McQuaid told reporters after Wednesday's informal practice session at Ristuccia Arena. "This next couple weeks will be really good for everyone, but especially for me to get up to speed here."

McQuaid is not alone in that line of thinking. He, along with forward Chris Kelly and fellow D-man Dennis Seidenberg, are a welcome site for Bruins fans, as they all set foot on the ice at Ristuccia this week for the first time since succumbing to injuries last season. All of them, McQuaid included, are ready to move on from the disappointment last season brought.

"[This] summer was a little different," the defenseman said. "I had to take things a little slower and modify things. So, you know, I probably haven’t pushed it as much as I normally would.

"At this time, I’m in the offseason, but again, it’s coming [along] really well, especially the last couple of weeks, and we still have a couple more weeks here now until camp. So I’m excited about where I’m at and I look forward to seeing where I’ll be at in another couple of weeks."

The season hasn't even officially started yet, but already, McQuaid has one particular goal in mind: Play through the whole season, without disruption.

It has been a while since he conquered a full slate of games, given the lockout in 2012-13, so right now, McQuaid is focusing on getting himself into the proper physical shape to be able to withstand the grind of the season ahead.

"[I'm] just getting some strength -- strength and endurance," he said. "You know, again, it’s been a bit of a layoff for me. [It's] getting used to getting back in game situations and making plays and reading plays, and finding your position on the ice, which probably everyone will have a bit of an adjustment but maybe a little more for me. So I just need to make those areas that I focus on."

Another looming distraction: The fact that, heading into training camp, the Bruins expect to have nine NHL-caliber defensemen competing for seven roster spots. Competition will obviously be fierce, and McQuaid will likely find himself competing with eight other players who ended the 2013-14 season injury-free.

That fact, McQuaid said, is something he must ignore.

"I can only do what I can do," he said. "I’m going to push. I’m here to compete, and I want to. I want to play really well, and show that, you know, I’m capable of helping this team and being an asset to this team. So that’s really all my mindset is, and I’m going to give it my best effort. That’s really all I can do."

Every player will head into training camp feeling like he has something to prove. The point of training camp, for many players, is to prove your worth and compete for a spot. Though McQuaid is obviously no rookie and has carved out a niche for himself on Boston's blueline, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that he does have something to prove, especially given last year's injuries.

"I think every year, you come in, and everyone is obviously looking to improve, and you want to put the best foot forward," he said. "So nothing changes from that mindset, and I think you’re always proving yourself. You can’t hang your hat on what you did yesterday. There’s always guys pushing to get up, and guys that are fighting to stay here. So that’s kind of how it’s always been, and every day, you have to come with your best effort."

It is hard to avoid looking ahead at what is to come. It's hard to avoid anticipating the start of the season and the end of the season; it's hard to avoid imagining where this team will be when the playoffs roll around. For now, though, McQuaid will return to one particular Bruins mantra as he continues to prepare for training camp, the one task directly ahead.

McQuaid can't control the future. He can't guarantee what will or will not happen. And though his goal is "obviously" to play every game and stay healthy, he will not allow himself to focus on things he cannot control.

"It’s been my goal every year, and again, say whatever you will," he said. "I haven’t been able to do that. At times, it’s been tough, but I have faith that everything works out the way it’s supposed to, and I’ve always kept that in mind. That’s what I’m going to continue to do."

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