The balance that has to be struck is the same for every rugged defenseman.
Like those before him and others currently skating in the NHL, Adam McQuaid is going to have to figure out how to play his all-out physical style at the sport’s highest level without enduring the type of injuries that keep him out of the lineup for extended periods.
A couple “upper-body” injuries, including one that was revealed to be a concussion at the conclusion of the Bruins’ 2012 playoff run, hindered McQuaid’s development into a top-four defenseman in his second full NHL season. Nonetheless, McQuaid showed flashes he could handle a big-time shutdown role at times, and continued to be flaunt the toughness that allows him to accept offers to tussle from anyone at almost any time.
McQuaid has played through tons of pain the last couple years. But head injuries aren’t the type you play through, and you’re not allowed too even if you’re willing. A healthy McQuaid could be a huge key to the Bruins getting back in the championship mix next season.
Regular season: 72 GP, 2-8-10, plus-16
Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 at a cap hit of $1,566, 667
Regular season recap
Highlight: Formerly a Columbus draft pick, McQuaid exacting some revenge on his old franchise Nov. 17 with the game-tying goal in the second period. With Johnny Boychuk out of the lineup, McQuaid also moved up to a pair with Zdeno Chara for most of the night and helped keep Rick Nash’s line off the scoreboard, as the Bruins won in a shootout, 2-1.
Lowlight: The Bruins’ 6-0 loss in Buffalo Feb. 8 did little to improve any players’ standing. McQuaid struggled to a minus-1 in just 15:39 of ice time. He picked up 16 penalty minutes, including an undisciplined double-minor for roughing Patrick Kaleta. He also coughed up the puck and deflected it into the back of the net on a Kaleta goal late in the second period. McQuaid’s delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass also didn’t help matters.
Playoff recap: McQuaid was unable to get healthy enough to participate in Boston’s seven-game loss to Washington in the first round.
Grade: B. Although he struggled being in and out of the lineup early in the season and then had his ending hastened by injury, McQuaid made solid strides and showed an ability to put his large body to the utmost use.
Carnac predicts … assuming he stays healthy and can gain confidence to play as well in marquee matchups as he does when he’s on the third pair, McQuaid could challenge for top-four minutes and be a key contributor at both ends of the rink.