McQuaid Lifts Bruins to the Finals
BostonBruins.com - All it took was one goal for the Boston Bruins to be lifted into their Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the past three years.
In a game of inches, it took a full team effort. From the diving bodies, to the blocked shots, to the game-changing saves.
But, in Game Four against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden, with a sweep on the line, all it took was the rising shot of an unlikely candidate.
A 26-year-old from Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, and his blast of a shot from inside the blueline.
The Bruins have another chance at a Stanley Cup and the series-clincher in a tight-as-nails 1-0 game came off the stick of defenseman Adam McQuaid. His second career playoff goal, second this postseason.
The game was scoreless heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
"We felt like we weren’t really playing our game too much in the first two periods. All we kind of talked about was, you win a period and you win yourself a series to play for the Stanley Cup," said forward Milan Lucic in the locker room postgame, after playing 17:39 of pounding hockey in the win.
"I remember telling Quaider [Adam McQuaid] before the game that he was going to score tonight. Someone had a good nickname for him; called him Adam ‘Lone Wolf’ McQuaid. And he comes up with that big slapper and gets a huge goal for us," smiled Lucic.
"You look at guys that have gotten series winners the last two series winners with him and [Gregory] Campbell stepping up with big goals. That’s what the playoffs is all about, is different guys stepping up at big times."
With the game scoreless, a line change early in the third saw commotion at the benches turn into time and space for McQuaid jumping into the play. Brad Marchand had raced down the left wing, stickhandled, stickhandled some more, and waited to thread a perfect pass over to McQuaid skating through the high slot. He let a rocket absolutely rip, and it deflected ever so slightly off the stick of a diving Jarome Iginla to fit snug into the top left corner.
"I guess that’s what the playoffs are all about, different guys stepping up at different times," said fellow blueliner Dennis Seidenberg, who echoed the sentiment around the team.
"Tonight it was Quaider. It was an unbelievable shot from the blueline. It’s nice to see a shot going in from him, especially with the way he works and how hard he works and how he sacrifices his body every game."
"Excitement - He’s not really known for scoring big goals," said Captain Zdeno Chara following the win, on what went through his mind after McQuaid's goal. "But fortunately we are very happy for him, and obviously everybody else."
After the quick pass pushed over to the trailing McQuaid, Marchand had gone right to the bench for a line change. The fans' reaction helped him whip back around to see the winner.
"I was kind of looking back a little it. I saw Quaider wind up and shoot it and then I kind of heard the crowd. So, it was definitely a nice feeling," said the winger, who has now assisted on two of Boston's three series-clinching goals
"He made an incredible play tonight to get that goal. We’re lucky to have him playing here."
"It's obviously nice when you get a little bit of offense from your defense," said McQuaid, wearing the gifted Player of the Game Army Rangers jacket on the press conference podium postgame, passed along from Patrice Bergeron in the room after the game.
"First and foremost, we're trying to be solid defensively, but when we can get up into the play and Marchy made a great play to me there, and just trying to get some shots on net."
"I felt like I got pretty good wood on it, but maybe not necessarily felt like it was going to go in, but found a way to."
But for McQuaid, there was a point earlier in December, before the season began, that he didn't even know if he could find a way back to hockey.
The adversity came in the form of potentially life-threatening blood cots, a by-product of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which most athletes usually miss an entire season from. McQuaid, not one to deter, underwent two emergency surgeries to remove the blood clots, leaving him unfit to continue any normal offseason workouts. There was a bleak prognosis the blueliner could return to the ice. They originally told him it could be six months before he returned to the ice - the entire shortened season. But this was Adam McQuaid, one of this year's three finalists for the Masterton Trophy, given out for perseverance and dedication to hockey.
And he brought his steadfast determination to the challenge, recovering quickly and being back on the ice in time to join his teammates for the start of the 2013 campaign.
He then missed nearly a month with a shoulder injury through March and April.
Sitting, smiling in front of a room of reporters postgame, one asked about getting from that point in December, to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"Obviously it feels great to get to this point. We have a little ways to go yet to get where we want to be but we're getting closer," said McQuaid.
"I guess personally, in December, I wasn't even thinking too much about playing hockey. It was just trying to get back healthy, so it's definitely nice to see how things come full circle like that.
McQuaid's teammates knew the obstacles he had to overcome to reach this point. There was no hesitation in handing over the jacket from Bergeron (a player who has overcome insurmountable obstacles of his own) to No. 54.
"I think it's nice. I think everybody in the dressing room is really happy for him. He went through obviously a tough situation in the Fall. To be able to come back and play with us, not only that, but score a big goal for us tonight, is certainly a big boost to his morale," said Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien following the win.
"Certainly he's got the players and his teammates behind him as far as being happy. There was no hesitation there in awarding him the jacket tonight. It just goes to show you how our guys really appreciate all the different little things that every player does on this team."
"It’s so rewarding for him because he went through such a tough [time]," said Seidenberg. "But for him to come back like that and play solid hockey and score that goal it’s big."
McQuaid, of course, knew the team effort that went into defeating the league's most potent offense in the Pittsburgh Penguins, and outscoring them 12-2 in the process.
"It obviously feels good. It feels good to be able to contribute that way. I don't normally, but if you look at so many great effort we had from guys tonight, you see the last 10 minutes of the game, guys were all over the ice doing whatever it took to preserve that goal," said the defenseman, of the little details that make big statements within their dressing room. "And Tuukka was phenomenal again for us."
McQuaid is usually the one putting in the little details, the 'Lone Wolf' going about his business, and keeping the puck out of the net.
"We said in the playoffs it’s about everyone it’s about the team and everyone steps up at one point or another and tonight it was Quaider," said Lucic.
"He’s one of those guys that you don’t necessarily see that often on the score sheet but he does his job and the way that he plays goes a long way especially in the playoffs and tonight was his turn to score that big goal."