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Practice Notebook: McQuaid Still Day-to-Day, B's Prep for Back-to-Backs

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins hit the ice for practice Wednesday morning at their practice facility, Ristuccia Arena, Adam McQuaid was the only Bruin absent from the skate.

The defenseman left the game against Toronto on November 9 with an injury, and has not yet returned to skating with his teammates. He's been deemed "day-to-day" by Head Coach Claude Julien.

He’s not skating now because he’s not capable of it...You keep hoping that he keeps improving and we’ll see where he stands.Head Coach Claude Julien, on Adam McQuaid

"He’s not skating now because he’s not capable of it," Julien said following the practice. "You keep hoping that he keeps improving and we’ll see where he stands by then."

The team has not made the decision yet on whether he will travel or not for the upcoming road trip to Ottawa, Carolina and New York.

McQuaid left early in the first period against the Leafs, logging just 44 seconds of ice time on two shifts. He was taking a turn behind the Bruins' goal, when he grabbed for his right leg and went down to the ice. He was helped down the tunnel by team trainers and did not return.

"I think everybody knows where he got hurt," Julien said. "I think he grabbed it quick enough that it was pretty obvious."

While the exact nature of the injury has not been specified, the "day-to-day" timetable is a good sign, as it was at first unclear whether it would be days or weeks before a return to the ice.

With McQuaid out, Matt Bartkowski has slid into the lineup, forming a pairing with Johnny Boychuk. Zdeno Chara has been paired for the most part with Dougie Hamilton, and Torey Krug with vet Dennis Seidenberg.

B's Find Stride Amidst Homestand

The Bruins have picked up seven of a possible eight points at home so far with their five-game homestand. Since the shootout loss to Dallas on November 5 at TD Garden, in which they picked up the point, Boston has won three straight, including two against divisional opponents.

Having regained their stride, after a previous tough stretch of four losses in five games, the B's will look to continue the trend as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

"We didn’t start out well and we’ve seemed to pick it up a little bit lately: playing smarter defensively, smarter mentally and less breakdowns," said Dennis Seidenberg. "So that’s a good sign."

"For tomorrow, I think it’s about us playing another consistent game and hopefully get going and go on the road trip with a win on our hands."

After playing Columbus, the B's will jet to Ottawa to face the Senators on Friday night. They'll have two back-to-backs in a span of six days, facing off against the Hurricanes in North Carolina on Monday and the Rangers in New York on Tuesday.

"Well, if we can finish on a good note here, it will certainly send us on the road with some confidence," said Julien. "We know it’s going to be some tough games here coming up, so we just need to take advantage of what we thought was important for us and that home stretch was one of those things.

"If we can win tomorrow, nine out of 10 points is a pretty successful homestand."

Prepping for Back-to-Backs

The Bruins (and every other NHL team, for that matter) are a game-by-game team. With two back-to-backs, and three of four games on the road, you can't look too far ahead.

"Everything takes care of itself," said Seidenberg. "If we play well, the next game is going to be easy. If you don’t play not too well, it’s going to be a different mindset again."

Back-to-backs are where the mental always outweighs the physical. They will be tired no matter what. It's about grinding it out.

"It’s just about picking it up and trying to get on another win streak. So it’s all about tomorrow, trying to finish up our homestand on a positive note and go from there."

"It's kind of funny how the schedule is this year. At the beginning of the year we had three, four, five days off then we play three in four nights so it’s kind of funny," said David Krejci, of the flurry of games coming up after a slower start to 2013-14.

In the 82-game regular season, there are plenty of back-to-backs that make for less than ideal travel and lack of rest. But pros are pros, and these players know how to handle themselves in whatever circumstance they encounter.

"We’re professional athletes so we’ll be ready for whatever comes. We know we have a tough schedule ahead but we have a good enough team, we train well, so I think we’re ready for it."

We're Talking 'Bout Practice

If the players had it their way, they would rather suit up for games than practice nine times out of 10.

That one time usually involves the following reasoning:

"Once in a while, it’s nice to go to practice, try new sticks…new skates….new gloves," Krejci explained, as he sat back, relaxing in his locker room stall.

"But I’m pretty sure every single player in this room is going to tell you that it’s better to play games than practice. So it’s fun that we’re going to have some games again and I’m looking forward to it."

Marchand Being Marchand

After going through a tough 13-game scoreless drought in the beginning of the season, it appears that Brad Marchand has started to "find his game" and find some jump with Loui Eriksson and Patrice Bergeron.

Jarome Iginla has even said he feels like the winger is "flying out there."

It's good to see Marchand being himself on the ice, as the personality is always himself off the ice.

"Yeah he’s been better. He’s been better," said Julien. "I thought last game he skated really well and we saw more of the Brad Marchand that we all know. So I see his game turning the corner and now it’s just hoping that it keeps going that way."

Practice Lines

White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla

Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson, Jordan Caron

Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith

Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson

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