The issue with being a shut-down defenseman is that they’re often-times underappreciated. Today’s NHL showcases more skill and speed than ever before, and the fans will always be more drawn to the big-name players. This makes the stay-at-home guys even more prone to flying under the radar, but let’s not forget about Adam McQuaid. He was sidelined for three months after breaking his fibula, but the return of the fourth longest tenured Bruin could help the team down the stretch.
Standing at 6’4- 212lbs, the Cornwall, Prince Edward Island native has always been one to lay the body and protect the front of the net. He’s absolutely tough as nails and has racked up 51 fights at the NHL level. He can throw hands with just about anybody in the league, and it shows in his record.
According to www.hockeyfights.com, he’s a career 49-9-20 between his time in the OHL, AHL, and NHL. The fans also love that he never wastes time getting in the punches. With fighting gradually becoming less and less prevalent we often see two guys square up, latch on, and tap out after 15 seconds of nothing. McQuaid’s more into the run and gun approach, and the second he’s toe to toe the hands are flying. Some of his more notable take downs even include guys like Matt Martin, Nikita Zadorov, and John Scott. Having the willingness to scrap heavyweights like this is respectable enough, but having the ability to come out on top is beyond impressive.
Although McQuaid’s style of play is centered around toughness and physicality he’s also proven his defensive worth. His career plus-60 rating is highlighted by his efforts during the Bruins Stanley cup winning season. He finished his rookie season as a plus-30 and was a pleasant surprise throughout the cup run. His career rating is even more impressive considering that he isn’t out on the ice for many goals for, emphasizing how little he is on for goals against. Coach Bruce Cassidy describes him as “a hard-nosed defensive defenseman who can make a good first-pass decision”.
Cassidy continued to mention McQuaid’s presence in the locker room, adding that “he’s a great guy. His teammates all love him (and) he’s a big part of our identity”. Fellow defenseman Kevan Miller has also praised McQuaid’s company in the locker-room. “He’s just a great person, but an even better teammate” Miller says. “He’ll block a shot and do anything for the team”.
He’s also been a key piece of the Bruins’ penalty kill throughout his entire career. The best penalty killers are usually those who exhibit the most tenacity and fearlessness, which is right up McQuaid’s alley. This led to his broken fibula after being on the receiving end of a Ben Hutton slap-shot. But McQuaid isn’t going to change his game. “I don’t see anything changing”, he said. “I can choose between getting hurt every once in a while and missing some time, or playing a different style and probably not playing at all”.
McQuaid’s game does have its flaws. He’s most effective when he keeps things simple, and at times he tries to do too much. This has led to some costly turnovers over the years, leaving fans frustrated. He also won’t produce much offense, with a career high of just 15 points. But I’ve said throughout the year that the Bruins are winning because of their combination of skill and toughness. McQuaid’s return will only add to that. He’s a perfect second or third pair defenseman who will do anything for the team. He’ll eat up 18 minutes a night and will continue to be reliable on the penalty-kill. Just his mentality and veteran presence alone should help the Bruins down the stretch.
Cover image courtesy of CBS Boston.