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On the McQuaid hit, the aftermath, and more

January 6, 2016, 7:18 PM ET [29 Comments]
Ty Anderson
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The Boston Bruins are officially in a rut.

With losses in five of their last six games, the fifth coming with last night’s 3-2 loss to the league-best Washington Capitals, the Black and Gold are left looking for ‘moral victories’ and ‘positives’ to take from their defeats. It’s easier to find moral victories in November than it is in January, though, and the B’s are honest about that. Here’s a look back at some things that went right -- and wrong -- in the loss.

McQuaid injury looms large in loss

The loss of Adam McQuaid following a straight-up gross non-call of a board from Zach Sill in the second period was an undeniably big one for the Bruins on Tuesday.

McQuaid was not the lone reason why the Bruins lost that game, of course, but his departure meant more minutes of talents like Colin Miller and Kevan Miller, two of the Bruins’ supporting cast members. The mere fact that we’re talking about McQuaid’s importance to the B’s in 2016 is of course both a testament to McQuaid’s strides this year and the inexperience of the Boston blue line. The 6-foot-5 McQuaid would not return to the game, was not at practice today, and there’s still no update as to whether or not the veteran defender will be on the B’s five-game road swing.

It’s a big loss.

Of course, the Bruins are a team built for defensive injuries. They’ve carried eight defensemen since Day 1 of the regular season, and one of Joe Morrow or Zach Trotman are more than capable of stepping in. But they’re not exactly known for logging the hard minutes that McQuaid does.

At the same time, the only way they will learn how to log those minutes is if they’re given the chance to, and this is sort of what you want to see before the deadline. Sink or swim time.

Sill has been suspended two games for boarding. Still blows my mind how it went uncalled in the first place, too, but hey, that’s a topic for another day, I suppose.

On Boston’s response -- or lack thereof -- on the McQuaid hit...

It seemed as if some people were mad with the lack of a response from the Bruins immediately following Sill’s board on McQuaid. In case you didn’t know, Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to go over and tackle Sill down, and even then, Bergeron didn’t look 100% confident in doing so. It looks damning when you see that Zac Rinaldo was on the ice and about four feet to the right of the hit as it happens. And yeah, I agree that it’s a bad look, especially when you’re talking about a guy in McQuaid that’s always the first one in when it happens to his teammates.

At the same time, though, I’m not sure what many of the Bruins were expected to do there.

Rinaldo was at the end of a long shift (if my memory serves correctly), and it honestly appeared as if his focus shifted towards the Washington defenseman ready to play the puck.

“Go fight a guy? Yeah, why not?” B’s defenseman Torey Krug said about defending McQuaid and the response from the B’s. “I mean, personally I think we didn’t have the personnel out there. I mean, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] went over and let the guy know that he didn’t like the hit, and I was out there for, you know, a whole shift. You don’t want to go fight a guy at the end of a two-minute shift, but it still happens. I mean, if I got hit, Quaider’s going to go over there and let the guy know he didn’t like it, so one of our star players is going over there and telling the guy he didn’t like the hit. He’s not going to drop his gloves, but, you know, if someone else is out there he’s going to let him know.”

The days of frontier justice are over in the NHL. I’d argue that it left when the last one of the ‘old school’ players (Mark Recchi maybe?) retired from the game. Most aren’t going to risk suspensions and misconducts, especially in a close game, just to make things ‘even’ in their way.

It’s worth noting that both Tyler Randell and Rinaldo tried getting Sill to have a go with them next time they were all out there together, but Sill declined such an invitation. Probably a good idea.

On the road again

It’s good for the Bruins to play in any building outside of Massachusetts. This is what I’ve learned.

With last night’s regulation loss, the Bruins dropped to 9-11-2 at home. That’s 20 of a possible 44 points. A 45% point percentage. On the road, though, they’re 11-3-2. 24 of a possible 32 points. A 75% point percentage. That’s the most backwards thing in the world. But hey, it works.

“The last month we’ve tried to claw our way back at home and get on the other side of .500 here at our home building and tried to get some valuable points, so now we have an opportunity to go on the road, and, you know, we play well out there,” Krug said of the team’s road success. “I don’t know what it is. We really simplify our game and we’re able to come away with points and… so I know personally I’m looking forward to the road trip. It’s always fun to go out there with your teammates and go into another team’s building and try to steal points, so we’ve got to take that mindset in there.”

Five games on the road should, at least if we go by their recent run, yield anywhere from seven to eight points. You’ll take that. You’ll take anything you can get at this point, actually.

Ty Anderson has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, has been a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter since 2013, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com.
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