Greg Zanon doesnt have the kind of skill set thats going to jump out and take your breath away.
The former Minnesota Wild defenseman isnt the swiftest skater and hes not a gifted playmaker from the blue line, but he brings a warrior mentality and attributes that help hockey teams win games. All anybody has to know is that New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi is the only player in the NHL that blocked more than Zanons 212 blocked shots last year.
Its the hard hits and blocked shots that fit the 31-year-old Zanon right into the hard to play against mold and make him the biggest difference-maker that the Bruins acquired at the trade deadline. For a team that values the things that dont show up on the scoresheet and covet toughness over just about anything else, Zanon will right in with a banged up Bruins team.
Obviously the Bruins are a good defensive team. They play that physical style. Watching last year when they were making the run to the Cup, they beat up on teams just with their physical play and being able to get up and down the ice the way they do, said Zanon. I just hope I can fit in with my physical aspect of the game. Obviously Ill do anything to try to prevent a goal and just do anything that the team needs me to do.
Theyll let me know what somewhat of what my role is going to be when I get there, but the only thing I can do is come and just play the way Ive played my whole career. Hopefully it takes care of itself.
Many of the things that Zanon does well defensively sound eerily similar to Dennis Seidenberg: he blocks shots, creates a physical presence in the defensive end and can seemingly play through any level of physical pounding from attackers and fore-checkers.Zanons career-highs offensively are four goals scored, 13 assists and 15 points, so he wont be a power play factor or an attack zone force other teams will have to account for.
But with Zanon and Mike Mottau added to the Bruins defensemen mix, the Bs have eight available blueliners when Johnny Boychuk gets healthy from his mild concussion. Zanon wont be in Boston in time for Tuesdays morning skate prior to tonights game against the Senators, but it will be interesting to see how the defensive pairings change once he fully gets into the fold.
Were going to have eight defensemen with Johnny Boychuk healthy, so theres going to be two that are out there. Well figure that out over time, said Chiarelli, who has tracked Zanons career since he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators while playing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I dont know who will be in to start. Maybe the two guys we added wont be in to start when Johnnys healthy. Im not sure yet.
Weve had discussions with our coach leading up to this: that if we were to acquire should he play. We talked about these players prior to making the deal, so its a work in progress.It appears that adding some left-handed shot defensemen allows the Bruins to slide Dennis Seidenberg back up with Zdeno Chara as a top shutdown D pairing a la last years playoff run. It also provides a competitive message to a struggling defenseman like Joe Corvo that the Bruins have other answers if he cant consistently step up his game, and that a spot in the playoff lineup is not a given.
Theres a very real possibility that Corvos short-comings in the defensive zone will be exploited heavily by opponents once the Bruins get into the thick of the playoffs, and both Mottau and Zanon provided defensively sounder alternatives. Even better the Bruins now have plenty of defensemen as the war of attrition begins in the postseason as blueliners can begin to take a pounding.
Last year the Bruins only had a fading veteran with great leadership (Shane Hnidy) and a wide-eyed rookie (Steve Kampfer) behind their top-six defensemen, and there will not be a repeat of that situation this year.
I just want to come and do what Ive been doing in the league now for six years: just being myself, playing physical, trying to move the puck as quick as I can, solid on the PK, doing whatever I can to prevent the puck from going in our net, said Zanon. Maybe once in a while chipping in on offense at the other end.
Zanon doesnt need to do much at the offensive end to fulfill what the Bruins envisioned in giving up Steve Kampfer for him. Hes meat-and-potatoes all the way at the defenseman position, and thats exactly what the Bruins are looking for at this time of year.