WILMINGTON, Mass. -- While some fans of the Bruins clamored for more as Monday’s trade deadline came and went, several players sighed with relief at the way things ended up.
All the core members of the team remain in place.
To get big talent, teams often need to give up big talent, but the Bruins didn’t go that route. Instead, the team kept things simple, remaining focused on what they already have in place and adding complementary pieces to enhance that.
As players spoke following the team’s practice Tuesday morning at the Ristuccia Arena, the consensus was that the vote of confidence in the team’s current group by General Manager Peter Chiarelli has players fired up to get things going for the remainder of the season.
“The first thing to me that sticks out is that he believes in this team and what we have,” alternate captain Patrice Bergeron said. “We have to go out there and prove to him that we have what it takes and that we just need a chance to get ourselves in the playoffs and go from there.”
“We didn’t really need any big blockbuster trades, we just needed a couple of little pieces,” forward Brad Marchand said. “The guys that we got are phenomenal players so we’re very happy with what we have and very confident with our group. I’m sure we’re going to be better for it in the long run.”
In their acquisitions of veteran forward Maxime Talbot from the Colorado Avalanche and former first-round winger Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins added experience and depth to the club. Where the two players will fit remains to be seen, but coach Claude Julien is excited with the extra options that he now has on hand.
“There’s going to be some good competition,” Julien said. “At the same time, I think it’s up to me and my coaching staff here with the players to make it work. We have a good team; now it’s a matter of going out there and showing it.”
Connolly arrived in Boston early Tuesday morning and joined the team’s fourth line during practice, wearing No. 14. Despite having a bag with the Lightning’s logo on it at his locker after practice, he looked comfortable during his time with his new teammates on the ice, even leading their group stretch.
“It was good, the guys have been great,” Connolly said of his first day. “Welcomed me right away.”
Connolly is a player the Bruins have seen first-hand in his time with the Lightning, and the team is hoping the best is yet to come for the 22-year-old. For his part, Connolly feels that he had just begun to hit his stride this season and has high expectations for himself. Meanwhile, Julien thinks that freeing Connolly from playing behind the likes of star right-handed shooters Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan could go a long way for his confidence.
“He’s got a good shot, good size,” Julien said. “We certainly have a shortage of right-hand shots here, so I would expect him to help us immediately. I think there’s a lot that can help us right away.”
In Talbot, expected to arrive Tuesday night, Julien is hoping for similar locker room leadership to what fourth-line center Gregory Campbell provides. Having won a Stanley Cup in his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Talbot knows what it takes to go all the way, something his new teammates feel the team has needed this season.
“We can definitely use that right now,” Marchand said. “We lost a couple of guys with really good leadership. It’s great to get another guy back right now that’s been through a lot.”
Whether the new additions will be enough for the Bruins to at least hold on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings that they currently hold remains to be seen. For now, the team is happy with what they have and expect a strong push toward the playoffs.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what position you finish in, as long as you end up in a playoff spot,” Marchand said. “We don’t need to run away with the President’s Trophy; we did that last year and it didn’t work out for us. The big thing is that we play really good hockey from here on out and we’re confident in the group we have.”