BostonBruins.com - This year's squad in Black & Gold doesn't look a whole lot different than the previous two years. A core group, with key players, and important re-signings by General Manager Peter Chiarelli has kept the cogs from the 2011 Cup run safely in the spoked-B.
It could be intimidating for any new player to come into the room, let alone, three months into the season, and less than 30 days until the start of the playoffs. But what makes these Zdeno Chara-led B's so close-knit is their welcoming presence and the respect they show one another.
When addressing the B's recent transactions, Chiarelli said that he always tries to project how new additions will fit into the room, and that he didn't anticipate any issues with the Bruins welcoming in the acquired players.
As such, three new Bruins at different levels of their careers have been easily assimilated into the dressing room in the past week, including future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, 24-year-old gritty forward Kaspars Daugavins in his second full NHL season (claimed off waivers from Ottawa), and defenseman Wade Redden, who brings 1,000-plus games and 13-plus seasons of NHL experience in tow.
"They seem to be fitting in pretty good, good bunch of guys," said Shawn Thornton, the no-nonsense, team-first Bruin who always has a good feel for the B's chemistry on and off the ice. "We're happy to have them and hopefully they'll be able to help here down the stretch."
That stretch has quickly turned into just 12 games, the final quarter of the season, with the Bruins sitting at second in the Northeast Division with 52 points, just one point behind the rival Canadiens they'll be facing in Montreal on Saturday night.
Jagr Drawing on Speed of Seguin, Marchand
With a good, hard practice under their belts on Friday - a rare commodity in this season, but definitely an important one for the additions to learn the systems better - the new B's chemistry with their lines is sure to develop moving forward, especially for the trio of Jagr, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
When Jagr first addressed Boston media on Thursday morning, he had talked about the "great team" he had arrived to.
"I found out it’s a lot of great guys, a lot of humor, so they make it easy for me."
That has been the case on and off the ice for the seasoned Jagr, who has combined his experience and wisdom with a youthful energy around the team, whether by talking through scenarios with his new linemates, giving a stick tap to Tuukka Rask after deflecting a puck past him, or sharing a laugh with Nathan Horton before power-play work.
And as each game (and practice) progresses, Jagr's line will become more and more acclimated to each other.
"We were talking a lot. Definitely when you have a new linemate, especially someone like Jagr, you’ll be talking a lot, learning from each other, trying to build that chemistry," Seguin said on Thursday night following the B's 1-0 shutout of the Devils, in which Jagr scored the lone goal. "I thought, again, as the game progressed we felt more and more comfortable with him."
"The biggest thing is we talked off the ice, talked on the ice. We got to read off each other," said Marchand. "Obviously, we all have to adapt to each other and even Segs playing center now, it’s different all around. That biggest thing is to communicate."
For Jagr, he's not looking to slow down his two young linemates, but working to feed off the energy and space they provide, and said - with a smile - that their skating legs are helping him push the pace.
"They're young kids, they're quick, they're going to be the stars in the league, no question about it," said Jagr, of his new left wing and center. "I said it before, it's going to take time to get to know each other and to play to our strengths. Every practice and every game it's going to get better and better."
"Daug Man" Brings Energy, Grit
The practice time was a benefit for Kaspars Daugavins as well, whose carefree attitude fits right in with the rest of the B's, who he has called a "good group of hardworking guys" that he just wants to help to win games.
It's no surprise that the "Daug Man," ("or Daugie - everything with 'daug'" as he joked when meeting Boston media for the first time) was known as being a great teammate in the Senators' locker room.
"I feel, every day, better and better. Yesterday was a little tough, not knowing all the plays right away, but it takes time, a little bit to adjust," said Daugavins following Friday's practice in Wilmington. "But it seems like I'm getting in there."
"They're great players," he said of his current linemates Rich Peverley and Jay Pandolfo. "Pando is a Stanley Cup champion, so he's knows what he's doing out there and Pevs is a great player too, he knows how to get the job done."
"It was a little tough playing with them the first time, but the other night in the game we kept getting better and better, got some forechecks going. Hopefully we can get a little more ice time in their [Canadiens'] end tomorrow."
Coach Julien was allowing Daugavins time to work his way into the group as well.
"You've got to give a guy – we say that all the time – a guy who comes in, give him a chance to fit in," said Coach. "I think we're going to give him that opportunity."
Redden's 1,000-Plus Games in Tow
When talking with Chris Kelly following Friday's practice in Wilmington, besides the excitement he showed for being back on the ice and traveling with the team to Montreal, he also showed admiration for the veteran presence in the B's locker room.
With Redden joining the club, Kelly was reunited with his former Ottawa teammate, who he played with on the Sens from 2005-08.
"It’s great to have Redsy, playing with him again, and it was great that we could pick him up, and obviously a guy that plays a thousand games is pretty remarkable," said Kelly. "I still don’t think people realize how difficult that is to do. We have three guys in here that have done it which is phenomenal [Chara, Redden, Jagr], and three Olympians too at that, so it was great to get him."
Although Redden's role on the Bruins will be more of a depth position, staying ready and filling in on the back end whenever he's called upon, his 1,017 games will certainly be a benefit when he needs to offer support.
And his familiarity with Kelly, Chara, GM Peter Chiarelli, and the Northeast Division, will help him ease into the B's fairly quickly.
"I felt comfortable coming in here and knowing a few guys, know them real well," said Redden. "Zee and obviously Kells, obviously played a long time with those guys, was real close to them, so it's great to be back with them."
In a nice gesture towards the end of Friday's skate, the B's summoned Redden to lead his first center-ice stretch as a Bruin.
"I think when anyone is at their best, is when they feel comfortable," said the veteran D-man. "Come to the rink with a good mindset and I know a lot of the guys in here, been playing against them or playing with them, and even the style that Claude uses I think is pretty similar to what I've played in the past. I think those are feelings of comfort and that's important."
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