BOSTON — It was a subtle tweak of his lineup by Bruins head coach Claude Julien Wednesday, but it meant a major increase in ice time for rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid.
The blueliner skated the warm-up alongside veteran Dennis Seidenberg and then took the majority of shifts against Montreal next to the German. For the night, McQuaid totaled a season-high 19 minutes, 42 seconds of ice time.
“I actually was kind of surprised after the game that I had played that much,” said McQuaid after the Bruins’ morning skate in preparation for tonight’s game vs. Detroit at TD Garden. “I really didn’t think I did. So the last few games that I’ve had the fights, I was playing probably the same amount of time, I was just [spending] a little bit of time inside the box. Maybe that was why it didn’t seem like it was that much. I feel good today, so hopefully I’ll get the same result tonight.”
McQuaid, whose previous season high for ice time was 16:32, had mostly skated alongside Andrew Ference the previous six games. With McQuaid moving up to the top four, Johnny Boychuk (season low 15:13 vs. the Canadiens) dropped down.
Julien explained the coaching staff’s decision to lean on McQuaid more like this after practice Thursday:
“We’re really confident right now with his game, that he is capable even of playing against top lines. You might see him Zdeno [Chara] at times too. We need a more physical presence against certain teams, and if you have him and Zdeno together, that’s a pretty big twosome. So those are things I think he has worked on, as far as earning our confidence and respect in regards to that.”
Confidence from the coaching staff can often increase the confidence within a player. McQuaid’s hoping the boost in playing time translates into even better play.
“It was nice to get to play a little more, get a little more ice time and play in a few different situations, he said. “I guess you’d say that it’s a compliment, but at the same time I just stay focused and it’s certainly a challenge to play against some top-line players.”
The Red Wings boast plenty of top-line forwards, so McQuaid can expect to receive another stiff test tonight.