Adam McQuaid (upper-body) expects to play tonight against the Predators. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
The deck just seemed incredibly stacked against Adam McQuaid.
Injured in the first period of Tuesday’s win over the Blues on a massive-yet-totally clean collision with Blues forward Patrik Berglund, the 30-year-old could hardly get to his feet before he limped down the tunnel and back to the B’s locker room for the rest of the night.
In fact, McQuaid, who missed the first five games of the year with an upper-body injury, didn’t even travel with his teammates on their initial flight from St. Louis to Nashville. But McQuaid joined the team Wednesday, practiced this morning, and even led the post-skate stretch, indicating that he’s willing and able to skate tonight when the Bruins visit Bridgestone Arena for a head-to-head with the Predators.
“He says he is,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked if McQuaid, who logged just 6:00 of time on ice before the injury, was ready to play tonight. “As long as everything is OK by game-time, he’ll be in.”
Already down Colin Miller (lower-body), the Bruins will dress seven defensemen for their pregame warm-up, which means Joe Morrow, who has not played since Dec. 12, will at least skate with a chance of playing for the Bruins if McQuaid is unable to go.
In what’s a plus-.500 road trip regardless of what happens tonight, the Bruins enter play with five of a possible six points through the first three games of this road trip, and will get their first look at a Predators club that’s struggled to find their footing of late, with just four wins in their last 10 games and currently just one point out of the Western Conference playoff picture.
“To be honest with you there’s nothing that’s much different than any other team that they do,” Julien said of the Preds, who are currently without P.K. Subban (back injury). “Right now my focus is what are we gonna do to beat this team. There’s nothing that you have to tell your team that’s different than any other team, so we have approach this game the same way we did last game.”
The biggest difference for the B’s on this trip has come from their offense, which has scored 12 goals over their last three games and has at least three goals in four straight games for the first this year, and with contributions from all four lines in the process.
Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Black and Gold for this game. Rask made 14 stops in a 5-3 win Tuesday, and comes into action with 21 wins and a .926 save percentage in 33 games this season. Rask has two wins in five career games against the Preds.
The Predators counter with Juuse Saros. At just 5-foot-11, Saros has been a monster for the Preds as a backup to Pekka Rinne this year, with three wins and a .955 save percentage in seven games this season. Saros took a loss in his last start though he did his job, with stops on 32-of-34 shots against in a 2-1 final against the Panthers on Jan. 6.
The Predators swept last year’s season series with the B’s two games to none, and outscored the Bruins 5-to-2.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes
Tim Schaller – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash
Austin Czarnik – Dominic Moore – Anton Blidh
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles – Kevan Miller