The Bruins, typically tight-lipped about injuries, lost blue liner Adam McQuaid to a shoulder strain during last week’s road trip, and coach Claude Julien noted Monday he expects the defenseman to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
If it turns out to be six weeks from the date of injury, March 19, that will mean McQuaid has been lost for the remainder of the regular season (final game: April 27). General manager Peter Chiarelli, already feeling out the trade market in hopes of adding a defenseman, now has extra incentive to shore up the back line.
Among candidates out there: Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar, Winnipeg’s Ron Hainsey, and Edmonton’s Ryan Whitney. None of those emulates McQuaid’s rugged big-man approach to the job, but all three might be able to aid the Bruins’ outlet game, advancing pucks from behind their blue line.
Chiarelli last year picked up two defensemen, Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon, for the stretch drive.
Both proved serviceable at times, though in limited roles. Mottau wore the Black-and-Gold for eight games (two in the playoffs), while Zanon suited up for 24, including all seven first-round playoff contests against the Capitals.
Both players became unrestricted free agents July 1 and neither was offered a contract to stay in the Hub, in part because the Bruins figured they would add top prospect Dougie Hamilton.
Adding to Boston’s backline woes has been the recent injury to Johnny Boychuk, who took a shot to the leg during Friday’s practice in Ottawa. The Bruins have not disclosed his injury, or offered a timeline for his return, but he missed Saturday night’s game in Toronto and sat out against the Maple Leafs again Monday night.
His charges mired in a slump that saw them go 1-3-0 on their recent road trip, Julien opted to give everyone the morning off Monday and at times seemed perturbed when talking with the media during his routine day-of-game scrum.
Asked if his team might benefit from taking an “angry’’ approach into the match with the Maple Leafs, Julien said, “I think we need to be angry at ourselves, not at the Toronto Maple Leafs . . . What is disappointing right now is that we are not playing the type of game that we should . . . If we are mad, we’ve got to be mad at ourselves for not playing our game and going out there and being a bit more hungry. Hopefully our work ethic and the talent we feel we have will take over.’’
In an attempt to get Milan Lucic out of his offensive funk, Julien moved the hulking left winger off the first line and put him with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron during Sunday’s workout. Brad Marchand took Lucic’s spot on the first line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton, and Danny Paille moved to Marchand’s combo with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin.
“I think if he’s changing his approach [then] he’s making a mistake,’’ said Julien, when asked if Paille’s approach would change when moved from his checking line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. “We’ve always asked guys to play the same way. What he does on that line is he forechecks well, skates well, he scores goals, he’s a straight-line kind of player. Defensively, he kills penalties and everything else. We don’t expect him to change that because I think that line can use that right now.’’
In their four stops on the road (Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto), the Bruins worked with a lead for only 32:40 of the 240 minutes played (13.6 percent of the time). They trailed slightly more than half the time (121:08). Only once, in Winnipeg, did they carry a lead (1-0) into the third period, and they ultimately lost to the Jets, 3-1.
Despite chiseling out only one win in the four games away from Causeway, the Bruins outshot the opposition in each game and finished with a 122-84 shot edge. Holding the opposition to an average of just over 20 shots a night should translate to something better than .250 hockey.
Trade winds swirling
The Bruins on Sunday entered the bidding for Brenden Morrow, only to see the edgy veteran winger agree to waive his no-trade clause and join the Penguins.
Both the Bruins and Penguins entered trade bids with the Stars, pending Morrow’s right to sign off on any deal presented to Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk.
Shortly after 5 p.m., Morrow opted to join Sidney Crosby and crew, thus enhancing Pittsburgh’s chances of landing what would be the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup title.
Rumors in Toronto, the epicenter of NHL trade talk, had the Bruins offering either Matt Bartkowski or Torey Krug in their proposal for Morrow. The Stars acquired high-end defensive prospect Joe Morrow in their swap Sunday. He was the No. 23 pick in the 2011 draft, the same year the Bruins chose Hamilton at No. 9.
The Penguins followed the Morrow deal on Monday by picking up veteran blue liner Doug Murray from the underperforming Sharks. The Swedish-born Murray, ex- of the Cornell Big Red, had been with the Sharks since their acquisition of Jumbo Joe Thornton from the Bruins.
Coming up next
The Bruins continue their long-running hockey holy war with the Habs Wednesday night, club CH here for the final game on Causeway ice this month . . . The Bruins will be in Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. matinee on Saturday, then play Easter Sunday in Buffalo (puck drop 7:30 p.m.).