On Monday, the Bruins acquired forward Brian Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau from the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Yannick Riendeau and defenseman Marc Cantin. They also acquired defenseman Greg Zanon from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Steven Kampfer.
But the story for Boston at the 2012 NHL trade deadline is what the Bruins didn’t acquire and how they will now have to find what they were looking for from within.
Right now the Bruins on the ice and in the dressing room do not resemble the 2011 team that began March coming off a 6-0-0 road trip having reloaded with the acquisitions of defenseman Tomas Kaberle and forwards Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. This year, the Bruins are coming off a 3-2-1 trip and are still missing Peverley (knee) and Nathan Horton (concussion) and could be without defenseman Johnny Boychuk (concussion) for a period of time.
They have not consistently played the physical and aggressive style that led them to their first Stanley Cup in 39 seasons last spring since losing Jan. 7 to the Vancouver Canucks, whom they beat in the finals, or to the New York Rangers twice.
Sources told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com that the Bruins were in on the Rick Nash sweepstakes early on, but quickly decided the asking price was too high. Many GMs and league sources, including Peter Chiarelli, confirmed that the prices were exorbitant for many impact players, particularly unrestricted free agents-to-be. Fearing a disruption of team chemistry, Chiarelli didn’t want to meet those demands or deal away a current roster player.
While he added depth in pending UFAs Rolston, Mottau and Zanon, they’re not going to be able to solve what ails the Bruins. The chemistry that Chairelli didn’t want to disrupt either isn’t there right now or just isn’t translating onto the ice. It’s up to the team leaders to grab the bull by the horns and get the players who haven't been on board enough recently.
Rolston should help in the leadership department. He has won a Stanley Cup and knows the Boston market well, having played here from 2000-2004. His cannon of a slapshot can help a power play that has been inconsistent of late. Mottau may be able to help the power play as well and when on his game, makes good outlet passes when moving the puck up ice. Zanon will be a Claude Julien-type of guy with his grit and shot-blocking.
But all three are complimentary pieces. What the Bruins need is for their core skill players to deliver like they did in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs and for their depth players to again rise to the occasion. But it will be key for this to occur down the stretch run of the regular season and not just in the playoffs. This team needs to prove to itself that it can play its game and apply its system on a consistent basis before the playoffs begin, not wait for the postseason.
The Bruins play their next three games at home before they head down to The Big Apple for their third tilt with the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. They must use these games (vs. the Senators, Devils and Islanders) to build momentum heading into that game and use it as a statement not only to the Rangers and the NHL that they are ready to defend their title, but also to themselves.
Last season the trades leading into the deadline proved to be the final catalyst the Bruins needed for their Cup run. This year's deals don't seem to be of the same caliber. Still, it’s time for this Bruins team to regain its mojo and start playing like the Bruins again.