With fresh start, McGillis fitting in nicely
When the Bruins acquired Dan McGillis and Ian Moran at the trade deadline in March, the team was desperate for defensive help. Neither player had much time to fit into the system Boston was using after coach Robbie Ftorek was fired and general manager Mike O'Connell took over behind the bench.
Not long after, the season ended with the Bruins losing in the first round of the playoffs to eventual-champion New Jersey.
McGillis and Moran were looking forward to a fresh start at training camp -- and they got it under new coach Mike Sullivan. Through 14 games, including the club's first home victory Saturday night against Dallas, both have been key contributors.
McGillis had a particularly strong game against the Stars, playing a team-high 21 minutes 14 seconds over 23 shifts, and finished with a game-high plus-3 ranking. He was credited with one assist on Michal Grosek's tying goal in the first period, but was instrumental in Boston's backbreaking third goal. McGillis swept the puck away from Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov at the Boston blue line and triggered a three-on-one break that resulted in a score by Sergei Samsonov.
"I think a lot of us feel a little more comfortable here," said McGillis. "We were trying to find where we were as a team and trying to get together on the same page. It takes a little time and a lot of hard work.
"I'm sure we've got some improvements still to make, but I think we're playing well as a team, and, most importantly, we're playing well down low and we're sorting things out a lot better."
McGillis downplays his role, but his teammates recognize how much he brings to the lineup.
"He's been real solid," said goalie Andrew Raycroft. "I don't think he gets as much credit as he deserves. He really lugs the puck out of the zone. He can carry it. I don't think too many people know that's in his game. You can watch him behind the net, he'll wheel it up and make that first pass. And he was all over Zubov. He did a good job, as usual."
Bruins captain Joe Thornton said he enjoys playing on the power play with McGillis.
"He's been playing great. He's one of our best defensemen right now," said Thornton. "Even on the power play, he keeps his head up and makes the right play. He's been playing awesome. He's so disciplined.
"He plays so hard every night; it's good he's getting some recognition right now."
Thornton said he'd much rather have the 6-foot-2-inch, 226-pounder on his side.
"When we used to play against him in Philly, obviously, he hit me a couple of times pretty hard," Thornton said. . . .
Glen Murray has gotten his game on track recently, scoring a goal against San Jose Thursday and another against Dallas, bringing his season total to three. Sullivan said it was just a matter of time. "He's critical to our team," said the coach. "He's a talented player and we rely on him, and Joe's line in general, so much for the offense that they bring . . . The way they control momentum, they have the ability to dominate play. Lately, he's been getting more and more chances and getting himself into areas where he needs to get to [in order] to score." . . . Sullivan altered his lines in Saturday's game, making center Travis Green a right wing on center Brian Rolston's line. Rolston said it benefited both of them. "The plus about it is when we get in faceoff situations, I can cheat a little more and Travis can cheat a little more," he said. "We can go into it where if I'm having a tough night on draws, he can go in and take a few. I think that's just the bonus of it. I thought he did a great job on wing. I'm not sure if he felt uncomfortable over there or not, but I thought he played [well]." Sullivan said he has no qualms about moving Green around. "He's a versatile player," the coach said. "He's a valuable guy for our team because he can play a lot of different positions, he can play in a lot of different situations. He's one of the better faceoff men in the league, he can kill penalties, he can play the wing, he can play center. He has the ability to play on an offensive line and he has the ability to play on a checking line as well." . . . After a day off, the Bruins get back to work this morning and will host Edmonton at the FleetCenter tomorrow night.
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