Peter Chiarelli’s reaction was quick and unmistakably sharp when asked what he thought of the moves that the Pittsburgh Penguins made securing Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jarome Iginla within days of each other.
“Well they’re a lock [to win the Cup], right?” said Chiarelli before breaking into a laugh. “They’re a good team.”
The Penguins were certainly a good team before making the trades this week while amidst a 14-game winning streak with the NHL’s leading scorer in Sidney Crosby and a deep, dangerous offensive club that hasn’t missed a beat with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup with injuries. But now they’ve taken their depth to a whole new level with Morrow, Iginla and Murray: players that bring size, strength and a nasty streak to the table along with years of playoff experience.
It certainly pays to have Crosby and Malkin on the roster, as they tend to attract veteran hockey players looking for their first Cup experience like pigeons outside TD Garden looking for autographs.
One could make the argument that a player like Murray might have the biggest impact as a powerful stay-at-defenseman ready to throw out crushing body hits, block shots and a healthy dose of intimidation in the defensive zone. The Bruins haven’t had a big, strong defenseman like Murray since Hal Gill left Pittsburgh after helping the Penguins win their last Cup.
But all three are the kind of physical, heavy players that will help skill guys like Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang get through an expected long playoff journey. Chiarelli hopes that the Bruins and Penguins cross paths in the postseason, and it’s not difficult to envision the two teams slugging it out deep in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
"They’re a real good team. You’ve seen our games against them. I would welcome [seeing them in the playoffs]. I think when we’re going that we play a really good game that matches up well against them: we’re shutting them down and playing a heavier game,” said Chiarelli. “Notice I say heavier game, you see what they’ve added too. They’ve added heavier players. They know what it takes. I’m not laying down for [Pittsburgh], but they know what it takes.”
The Bruins clearly won’t be conceding anything to Pittsburgh as “they know what it takes” as well after capturing the Cup two years ago. But the Black and Gold are also 1-3-1 in five games against the Penguins and Canadiens, the other two elite Eastern Conference teams, and look like they might need a few extra parts to get the upper hand against the iron of the East.
That remains the charge for the Bruins and Chiarelli over the next week as they look to answer GM Ray Shero’s moving and shaking that left Boston more than a little shaken and stirred. It also ups the ante for the final regular season game between the Bruins and Penguins on Friday, April 19, at TD Garden where B’s fans will get a chance to let Iginla know what exactly what they think about him sabotaging the deal with Boston.