For anyone hoping to see Adam McQuaid face off against his former team this postseason, you’ll have to wait a while longer. As the Columbus Blue Jackets departed for Boston today to face the Bruins in their second-round series, Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch reports that neither McQuaid nor fellow defenseman Ryan Murray made the trip. There is no clear timeline for either’s return, but they will at least miss the first two games in Boston.
McQuaid, 32, has yet to play this postseason after suffering a concussion late in the regular season. The veteran defender was acquired by the Blue Jackets from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline, but many still remember him most from his time with the Bruins. McQuaid, ironically a Columbus draft pick, spent the first nine years of his career in Boston before he was traded this past off-season. At the time, Boston was dealing from a position of strength, but ended up struggling with injuries on the back end all season and could have used McQuaid. Now, they could face the physical stay-at-home defender in the playoffs, that is if he can get healthy. Not only would McQuaid sure up the Blue Jackets’ bottom pair and provide insight into the Bruins’ inner workings, he would also provide the playoff experience sorely lacking from the roster. McQuaid has appeared in 68 playoff games and two Stanley Cup Finals, including winning it all with the Bruins back in 2011.
Murray, like McQuaid, is no stranger to being injured. The 2012 No. 2 overall pick has only played in more than 66 games in a season once in his six-year NHL career and finds himself on the sidelines again this postseason with a back injury. Murray has actually had a career campaign, recording 29 points in just 56 games and +20 rating that led all Columbus defensemen. Yet, Murray has been out since early February and it grows harder to imagine a comeback with each missed game. If Murray is able to return versus Boston or perhaps later in the playoffs, it would give the Blue Jackets a major boost and make them an even more dangerous puck-moving team.
Fortunately, Hedger notes that Markus Nutivaara did make the trip and is not expected to miss any further time with the upper-body injury that cost him the final two games of the first round sweep. He joins Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, and David Savard as a very capable top-four unit for Columbus. However, with McQuaid and Murray still out, the Blue Jackets could struggle matching up their bottom pair against the Bruins. Scott Harrington played very well against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but will have to keep up with that level of play if he and Dean Kukan (or Adam Clendening or Vladislav Gavrikov) want to defend against a deep Boston team.