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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.”

Claude Returns

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.”

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Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is nearing full health, as he skated with the team on Sunday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. McQuaid suffered a broken fibula when he blocked a shot in the Bruins 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on October 19. McQuaid was expected to miss eight weeks with the injury, and it appears McQuaid is a possibility to return as soon Monday against Columbus, pending further evaluation from team doctors.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously,” said McQuaid. “I’ve missed a lot of time here, but it’s a process… I’ll probably have a better idea probably tomorrow morning.”

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he is close,” added head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He is getting close. He has practiced with us, so it is imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact date.”

The return of McQuaid will give the Bruins seven healthy defensemen on the roster, providing Cassidy plenty of options for his defensive unit.

“That’s an internal discussion that we’re starting to have, and then you can play seven D,” said Cassidy. “It could be a different one every night – might play six D one night and seven the next. Again, it will create competition – good competition.”

Regardless of whether McQuaid is back in the lineup on Monday against Columbus, the rugged defenseman is excited to his return is near.

“I’m excited about where I’m at and about the possibility here going forward,” said McQuaid. “Hopefully when I get back in the lineup, whenever that is, I’ll be ready to go. It’s been fun to watch the guys and I want to get back in and be a part of a winning hockey team again.”

DeBrusk Slumping

Jake DeBrusk has experienced both the success and the struggles that are to be expected of a rookie at the NHL level. After being held out of the lineup as a healthy-scratch earlier in the season, DeBrusk caught fire, scoring six points in a five game stretch in November.

After an upper-body injury forced the rookie to miss three games, he has been unable to find the same success. DeBrusk has only two points (1-1-2) in his previous six contests. Midway through the second period against the Rangers, Cassidy elected to keep DeBrusk on the bench for the remainder of the game. DeBrusk played a season-low 7:43.

“I didn’t think he was hard enough on the puck,” said Cassidy. “He lost some battles on the walls, in the middle of the ice. By my count, he had probably two backhand turnovers… it is a learning curve. I think all of the guys have gone through it.

“When he gets his chance again, he has got to play with his forecheck, and there were some opportunities to do that that didn’t happen. So, we just decided to go a different route.”

DeBrusk recognized the areas of his game that need improvement.

“It’s one of those things that you never want to have happen, but I understood why,” said DeBrusk. “I think it was just being hard on pucks… [I'm] looking to do anything I can to find that energy and get back to my game that I was a week a ago.”

Lineup Tweaks Possible

When the Bruins take the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at TD Garden, there is the possibility of minor changes to the lineup.

“We’ll go with the same D,” said Cassidy. “The forward group we’d have to look at with Anders [Bjork].”

Bjork was a healthy scratch against the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Wisconsin native has been held to just one point in his previous five games. Ryan Spooner replaced Bjork alongside David Krejci on the Bruins second line. Whether Bjork returns to the lineup is yet to be decided.

“We sat him a game; We’ve talked about how we want to handle that,” said Cassidy. “We’ll have a conversation today or tomorrow morning about that. So, I wouldn’t say the forward group would be the same for sure.”