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Much-maligned Adam McQuaid may have saved the Bruins' season

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Whether you like his game or not, he came to the rescue at a huge moment.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Adam McQuaid is a pretty divisive figure out here in Bruins land. How you feel about McQuaid depends, for the most part, on your thoughts on the whole “stats vs. eye test” debate.

The stats gurus tend to look at McQuaid as a below-average defenseman, a guy who should be passed over in favor of younger blueliners with more upside.

The eye test people, who tend to like more of an old school game, love McQuaid due to the fact that he hits, fights and blocks shots.

Any discussion involving McQuaid inevitably devolves into a debate between people from these two camps. Some see him as valuable, others see him as replaceable. There’s rarely a middle ground.

Today, however, there’s something both sides of the aisle can agree on: Adam McQuaid probably saved the Bruins season last night.

It was late in the second period, and the Bruins had just given up Kasperi Kapanen’s near-back breaker. As they did about a billion times in the first and second periods, the Bruins turned the puck over in the neutral zone.

Zach Hyman gathered the puck with a head of steam, and appeared to have a pretty clear path to the net. Given how things had gone in the game to that point, it’s not a stretch to say there’s a pretty good chance Hyman would have scored.

Then this happened (via Chris/@CrzyCanucklehed):

There are a number of different things that make this play remarkable. First, McQuaid is on the opposite side of the zone when Hyman crosses the blueline. He manages to close that gap in just a couple of strides.

Next, he manages to get his stick on the puck and on Hyman’s stick with his dive, which is pretty hard to do.

Finally, he does it all without taking a penalty, wiping a prime scoring chance off the board in the process.

McQuaid finished by skidding into the boards and seeming to injure his shoulder or arm. He played limited minutes the rest of the way, but did return to action.

While it wouldn’t become clear until the game was over and the Bruins’ comeback had been completed, McQuaid’s effort on this play probably saved the Bruins season.

Sure, Hyman would’ve had to finish the deke and Tuukka Rask probably could’ve made the save. But if McQuaid doesn’t disrupt that play, there’s a real chance that the Bruins go down two goals late in the second.

All of a sudden, that hill to climb at the start of the third looks like a mountain.

Instead, the Bruins were able to finish the second down just one goal, and we all know what happens next.

McQuaid’s play isn’t likely to show up on any inspiring montages from this postseason, but it was arguably as important a play as David Pastrnak’s insurance goal.

After the play, Twitter was filled with typical responses from the anti-McQuaid crowd: “lol he’s hurt again come on.”

And it’s true that McQuaid has some terrible injury luck.

However, the play really illustrated what it is that the “eye test” crowd loves so much about McQuaid: hustle, determination and a willingness to lay out (literally) his body for the team.

We could argue for hours about whether or not McQuaid’s game has a place in today’s NHL, or whether or not a younger puck-mover would be better in his place.

But today, we can agree on one thing: McQuaid’s style of play and willingness to sacrifice his body for the good of the team is a main reason why the Bruins are booking flights to Tampa instead of tee times at the local country club.