Before the puck dropped for Thursday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Johnny Boychuk
was announced as a scratch due to flu-like symptoms.
Boychuk and his defensive partner Zdeno Chara
had been shutting down opposing top-lines throughout the Bruins six-game win-streak.
With an absent #55, another blueliner needed to step up and Head Coach Claude Julien looked to Adam McQuaid
“Adam’s a big guy, and he had played against top lines,” said Julien. “They’re a big, heavy team, so we needed a good physical presence up there.”
For sixty-five-plus minutes, McQuaid answered his coach’s call.
“Things like that happen every year where different guys have to step up in different situations,” explained McQuaid. “It is nice to have that opportunity to be relied on.”
The B’s defenseman was asked to fill an important role and approached it with the right mindset.
“When you get that chance you have to make the most of it,” he said.
Although Columbus is struggling of late, the bid defenseman knew not to overlook the Western Conference team.
“This league is too good to not bring your best every night," said McQuaid. "Teams will bury you if you don’t.”
NHL All-Star Rick Nash kept McQuaid aware of that throughout the contest.
“He has a rare combination of size, speed, skill, strength and everything,” said McQuaid of the Blue Jackets Captain. “I guess you just try to limit his opportunities like everyone else.
McQuaid, alongside Chara, did a good job of limiting Nash’s opportunities and needed to as the B’s had trouble getting on the score-sheet.
The only Bruin who was able to beat Curtis Sanford in regulation was #54 himself.
After Boston went down 1-0 to Columbus just 2:49 into the second period off of a Derek MacKenzie deflection, McQuaid brought Boston back.
When the puck popped out to the blue-line, he wound up and sent a hard shot at Sanford. Meanwhile, forward Rich Peverley
had a defender tied up in front of the net and screened the Blue Jackets goalie so he couldn’t follow the puck the game was knotted up, 1-1, at 4:24.
McQuaid’s first goal of the season came against the team who selected him in the 2nd round (55th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and was enough to get the Bruins into a shootout where they eventually earned the 2-1 win.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman, who fought sickness and injury early in the season, is certainly back to full health as he continues to clear out opposing forwards in front of the net, be physical in the corners, move the puck up the ice with speed, and, now, add his name to the score-sheet.
“I feel that Adam’s been playing better the last few games, as far as handling the puck and making better decisions all around on getting beat back to the net,” said Coach Julien. "“It was nice to see him play well tonight and score the goal that got us back in the game." ---John Griffin