With Kevan Miller doubtful to play on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens because of an illness, fellow blue liner Adam McQuaid could be making his return to the Bruins lineup.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy did not completely rule out Miller, but said, “he’s very doubtful for tonight…but it doesn’t look good. Adam would go in, it’s looking that way, but let’s give it a few hours.”
McQuaid has been out since Oct. 19 – a span of 36 games – after suffering a broken right fibula while blocking a shot against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. The 31-year-old defenseman has appeared healthy for the better part of a month, but with Boston on an 18-3-4 run and the back end playing well, Cassidy was hesitant to make any changes to the group.
“It goes without saying,” McQuaid said of being anxious to get back into game action. “But it’s been good to watch how the guys have come together and you really feel that off the ice and practice days and stuff.
“I’m excited to hopefully have that opportunity to feel that in a game. You see it watching but it will be nice to be back on the bench and hopefully add to this run that guys have been on and continue to play well.”
Cassidy expects there to be some rust in McQuaid’s game, so he is preparing to be patient with the veteran D-man’s game.
“There’s going to be rust, it’s inevitable, it’s his first kick at the cat since his injury,” said Cassidy. “So probably for him mentally just playing through the physics part of it early on. We understand that, so we’ve just got to allow him to be himself and play.
“Hopefully he’s able to play his 1-on-1′s, close quickly in the D-zone, get the job done there. I think there will be some rust with the puck, he hasn’t been under a lot of pressure, practices have been very short for us.”
Should be play, McQuaid would start the game in Miller’s spot alongside Matt Grzelcyk on Boston’s third pairing. It is a duo that has some familiarity after having played together at various times through training camp.
“They’re both really good players, they’re both very responsible defensively,” said Grzelcyk. “I think if I just use my skating legs and if I’m close enough to support him, it will work best, that way he doesn’t feel lost out there or anything like that. It’s tough coming back after being out for a while.”
With the Bruins set to take on their rivals and the return of former coach Claude Julien, McQuaid expects there to be some added energy in the building – something that could be beneficial for him after having been sidelined for roughly three months.
“It’s usually always a pretty good atmosphere, pretty good energy…I’m sure it will have everybody going,” said McQuaid.
McQuaid played his first eight seasons under Julien and credited his former coach with helping to establish his place in the league.
“It will be different, for sure,” said McQuaid. “It will be my first time, most guys have been through it already. He’s obviously the one who gave me my opportunity and stuck with me through various ups and downs.
“I’m sure it will be different, but at the same time you’ll have to focus on the game when it comes time.”
Former Bruins coach Claude Julien – the winningest coach in franchise history – will be back in Boston tonight for the first time since he was relieved of his duties last February.
“It was a little different. You come here as a home team coach and now you come here as a visitor, [it's] a little strange,” said Julien. “You don’t coach here 10 years without getting to know the people that work in the building and stuff like that, and I’ve always had good relationships with them. It will be nice to see them.
“But at the same time, it’s more important for me right now to remember what I’m here for, and I need to be as prepared as I’m asking my players to be prepared for this game.”
Julien, who spent 10 seasons with Boston and led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title in 2011, also had plenty of praise for the city and its fans.
“It’s a great city. People that come and visit the city love it. I liked it. I think as a family this is where our roots really grew,” said Julien. “I’m certainly not ashamed to say that this is a great sports town that supports its teams, and fans are great. So there’s nothing to dislike about this city and right now.”