The Bruins still aren’t certain that defenseman Adam McQuaid suffered a concussion on his fall into the boards Wednesday night in Carolina, but they are proceeding with the same level of care and caution that they would for such an injury.
“He’s still day to day and we’re taking a cautious route,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters after the club’s practice Friday afternoon in Chicago. “We’re handling as if it was a concussion, but he’s feeling better every day, and if it is [a concussion] it’s probably just a mild one. We’re more concerned about his neck right now.”
McQuaid is expected to miss Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks, but it’s unknown how much longer he will remain out. He missed two games in the playoffs with a sprained neck after a similar incident when he crashed into the boards after missing a hit on Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, and Julien stated that this injury is similar to what McQuaid suffered on that incident.
“He’s still suffering some headaches,” Julien said. “Right now a lot of it is neck pain, so it’s hard to diagnose whether it’s definitely a concussion or whether it’s just a neck strain he suffered on that fall.”
With McQuaid sidelined, Matt Bartkowski will return to the lineup against Chicago. Bartkowski played six games in Boston last year and also dressed for the season opener against Philadelphia this year when McQuaid was out with an illness. Bartkowski played 8:22 minutes with two hits and a blocked shot in that contest.
“This is a guy that we have a lot of faith in that will be part of our regular group here in the near future,” Julien said of Bartkowski. “Right now he’s battling for that seventh spot. For me he’s way ahead of what he was last year and it’s just a matter of giving him some experience and some time on the ice and some confidence. I liked his training camp. He showed us a player that has become a lot stronger and right now it’s more about the speed of the game, moving the puck quicker. He’s a good skater and all he has to do is adapt to the speed of the game at this level.”
The battle for that seventh spot could be heating up soon. Bartkowski won the job a bit by default when Steven Kampfer suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during the preseason, but Kampfer returned to the ice back in Boston and could be back to challenge for the spot soon.
“He started skating this week,” Julien said. “He’s doing much better. If things go well maybe at some point next week he’s probably going to slide in with us and start working his way up, skating with us sometimes and doing line drills. Still staying away from contact, but we’ll see how he does by the time we get back next week.”