BOSTON -- The Bruins will travel to New York for their games with the Islanders on Saturday and Rangers on Sunday minus defenseman Adam McQuaid, who suffered an eye injury Thursday night. And while Dennis Seidenberg (infection) will travel with the team and could play in one or both of the games, the Bruins will still need to rely on their blue-line depth.
Head coach Claude Julien will have the luxury of filling those spots without a call-up from Providence, and a player the Bruins acquired at the deadline has already become a dependable option. Greg Zanon, who was acquired from Minnesota in exchange for Steven Kampfer, has become a reliable and steady presence on the Bruins' blue line in the short time he has been here, and Julien will have no issues asking Zanon to take on an increased workload.
“It’s big for us and it gives some of our other guys some rest and not as much ice time,” Julien said of how quickly Zanon has adapted to his teammates and the Bruins system. “We got caught [Thursday] short a man with McQuaid and it gave some of our guys some big minutes. He’s certainly capable of handling those extra minutes.”
Zanon has only one point in 13 games with Boston, but the Bruins didn’t acquire him for his offensive skills. Zanon was brought in to be a stabilizing player on the blue line, and for his gritty style as well as shot-blocking.
“He’s a guy that Peter [Chiarelli] knew well and Peter thought he’d be a good fit for us, and he has been,” Julien said. “Sometimes you look at how you play your game as a team and what you look for in certain players, and he was one of those guys that might not have had the success he might’ve wanted in Minny, and maybe they play a different way that doesn’t suit him as well. So we try and find the right fit for our hockey club and he’s come in and done exactly what we wanted.”
Zanon told ESPNBoston.com that it has been easy to fit in with his new teammates both on and off the ice.
“I think [I am] as comfortable as anybody and it’s like I’ve been here since day one,” Zanon said prior to the Bruins’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals on Thursday. “It wasn’t as much the system as trying to figure out the guys and how they play. It’s trying to figure where they’re going to be in the zone and that just takes some time, especially at this time of year when you don’t practice as much and don’t have that time to figure it out. You have to learn as you go and obviously try and keep the damage at a minimal. But I think I’ve come along now the last five or six games I’ve played.”
One of the keys for any defenseman when he starts off with a new team is to learn the tendencies of the goalies and build a solid line of communication. While many view Tim Thomas’ goaltending style as a bit chaotic and unorthodox, Zanon said that the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is cool as a cucumber on the ice and a calming presence verbally to his defenseman.
“Timmy is really great,” Zanon said. “He’s a good talker and I’m just trying to stay out of the way. I do what I can to help him see the puck, and if he can’t see the puck, do what I can to block the puck. He’s a pretty easy-going guy, too. I’ve played with some guys that are yelling and screaming and you don’t know what the hell is going on but Timmy’s pretty relaxed back there. If he sees something he’ll let you know because he’s a good communicator.”
Zanon knows now that he may be spending even more time listening to and playing in front of Thomas in the next few games and he is ready to help in any way he can.
“That’s why I was brought in here, for depth and to help out when needed,” Zanon said. “It’s great that I’ve already been getting regular time and reps out there and I’m ready for more.”