Depth the order of the day for Bruins at deadline


Depth the order of the day for Bruins at deadline

Depth was the name of the game for the Boston Bruins at this years NHL trade deadline.

While last season the Bs executed deals that led to three key players in last years Cup run, its unclear whether any of the three players snagged this February will play the same kind of role this spring.

But they bring the Bs depth prior to another long playoff run that will surely test their staying power and ability to withstand injuries.

We were happy; we were fortunate to be able to get one forward. Theres a bunch of teams that were maybe trying and they didnt get what they wanted. We were fortunate to add to our depth, said Chiarelli. Anytime you have uncertain injuries you automatically think, 'Jeez I got to get deeper, I got to get deeper,' so thats what we tried to do.

The Bs started their series of transactions by locking down a versatile forward in 39-year-old former Bruins skater Brian Rolston, who in some ways is like an older version of Rich Peverley. Rolston can kill penalties, play point on the power play with his booming shot as he did during his Bruins days, and can play up and down the lineup just as Peverley does.

The big difference is clearly age. Rolston will be a little more injury-prone approaching 40 years old and he might not have the same wheels as he did pre-lockout when he was last a member of the Black and Gold. But Rolston also brings leadership qualities most will remember form his former days with the Bruins, and is a friend to Bs goalie Tim Thomas after the two grew up playing hockey together in Flint, Michigan as youngsters.

Rolston hasnt had a great year, but I feel hes a motivated player. Hes got a terrific shot, said Peter Chiarelli, who added Rolston will wear the No. 12 he donned the last time he played in Boston. He can really skate, and hell add to our depth and versatility. He can move up and down the lineup. Youve heard me say the same thing before with some of our additions and he has that big shot.

Mike Mottau has been limited to less than 30 games this season due to a nasty concussion suffered with the Islanders, but two years ago hed turned into a steady, 20-minute per night defenseman for the New Jersey Devils. Mottau and the Bruins had actually spoken about the defenseman coming to Boston as a free agent, but it didnt appear to be a good fit at the time.

Now it is for a Bruins team looking for left-handed shooting defenseman and excited to add Mottaus cerebral hockey style and ability to move the puck up the ice with precision. Best of all hes a Massachusetts native that wanted badly to get involved with the Bruins, and the recent additions of Josh Hennessy and Mottau have been a reminder that its so much better to have a couple of locals skating for the Bs.

Mottau returned to action last weekend and cant wait to get started. He may very well be in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators wearing No. 27.

I always said that Id take a puck in the teeth to play for the Boston Bruins, said Mottau. Now Ill get that chance.

The Bruins surrendered ECHL talent in Marc Cantin and Yannick Riendeau to acquire the two Isles players, but had to give up Steve Kampfer in order to land 32-year-old Greg Zanon. The rugged, blue collar Zanon was described by Chiarelli as a warrior and finished second behind only Dan Girardi in blocked shots (212) last season among all NHL players. The fact he had 38 more blocked shots than Dennis Seidenberg stands as a testament to just how hard-nosed Zanon plays the game.

Hes a left-handed shot as well from the blue line and will be a viable option for Claude Julien should injuries or ineffectiveness hit the rest of the Bs defensemen crew during the postseason. Whereas Claude Julien had only Shane Hnidy and Steve Kampfer to turn to if he wanted to go away from a struggling Tomas Kaberle during last years playoffs, hell now have Zanon if Joe Corvo becomes too much of a defensive liability during the postseason.

Zanon is a terrific shot blocker; hes a real gritty competitor, said Chiarelli. Hes a warrior-type defenseman, so now we have eight defensemen in the mix now. Weve added the forward, so weve improved our forward depth. Well wait and see what happens with our two forwards (Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley) that are currently injured right now.

With the injuries and postseason mounting for the Bruins, depth was the name of the day at the trade deadline and thats exactly what the teams front office accomplished.

Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is over... you need to get down'


Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is over... you need to get down'

FOXBORO -- The move did not require Olympic-caliber speed or other-worldly quickness. There was a subtle head fake, a foot in the ground, a shoulder turn. All of a sudden, Rob Gronkowski was wide open in the middle of the field and reeling in a Tom Brady pass for 37 yards in the fourth quarter of last weekend's win over the Steelers. 

Bill Belichick raved about the play on days after the fact. What Gronkowski did to safety Robert Golden was a thing of beauty in the eyes of the coach.

"This really is a good look at Rob’s route-running ability," Belichick said. "Rob comes in on Golden and takes it down the middle, like he’s going to run a crossing pattern or over route, and gives him a good move here and bends it back out. The receivers clear out the corners. That’s a lot of space there."

Gronkowski's move, combined with the steady diet of crossing routes teams have seen from the Patriots in recent weeks, helped set up the play that led to LeGarrette Blount's second touchdown of the day. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end was like a power pitcher who had been throwing fastballs for six innings and then pulled the string with a change-up in the seventh. Golden was helpless. 

"The number of times we’ve run Rob on over routes, and to come back and counter it -- it looks like Golden is trying to guess on the route and undercut it a little bit. Rob comes back away from it and turns it into a big play and sets up our last touchdown. Really a well-executed play by Rob.

“Sometimes you think it’s all size and strength, but as a technique route runner, he’s very good, too."

A quick mid-route shimmy. A look in one direction before heading in another. A nudge -- sometimes picking up a flag, sometimes not. They're all elements of route-running that Gronkowski has added to his tool belt over the course of his seven years with the Patriots. Considered the team's resident frat boy, it's sometimes hard to remember that he's one of the longest-tenured players on the team, a captain, and that he's picked up his share veteran tricks along the way.  

"I’ve definitely had to work it out plenty since I’ve been here," Gronkowski said of his route-running. "To be successful in this organization and this offense you just got to be working on it big time. It’s not just you just come in and you have it. From day one I remember I could barely even get open but just learning from Tom, from all my coaches here, it definitely helps out going out and focusing on your route detail. 

"Sometimes, necessarily, you don’t have to be the best skilled player out on the field to get open. It’s just learning the game of football, how to get open, what move to make is definitely all part of it."

Getting open is only part of it.

What he does with the football in his hands to run away from defenders is something that comes naturally. What hasn't always clicked for Gronkowski is how to finish. He has a tendency to want to impose his will on opponents at the ends of plays, running them over and leaving them behind, or embarrassing them and their loved ones by dragging them for inordinate amounts of time as he churns forward for extra yards. 

But in recent years, he's accepted that not every play needs to end with an exclamation point. He has come to understand that oftentimes a simple period will do.

Take his 37-yard catch against the Steelers, for example. When he got near the sideline and faced down a Pittsburgh defensive back, instead of trying to trample him to get to the goal line, he lowered his pads, shielded his legs, and went down.

"You always got to protect yourself whenever you can," he said. "You know, when the journey is done, if you’re running the ball, just get down and don’t take that extra shot. You can always show your toughness, you can have five guys take you down, but really that’s sometimes not the case. 

"You really want to show that you just want to get down, you want to preserve your body for the next play when the journey is done and you’re not going to get any more yards."

More often than not, it's the prudent choice. Mature, even. 

"It started coming in the last few years," Gronkowski said. "I remember a couple times my rookie year I'd just try and ‘Boom!' I remember I’d be like, ‘Oh, that one hurt.’ It hurt to go one more inch. 

"Definitely, when the journey is over and you know you gave it all -- you’re not going to be able to carry five guys, sometimes not even two guys -- whenever you just feel like you need to get down, you need to get down. It’s a physical game. Every play is going to be physical so save it for the next one."

Spoken like a savvy veteran. 

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”