Zanon ready to bring his 'warrior' game to the Bruins

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Zanon ready to bring his 'warrior' game to the Bruins

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.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

The Patriots have placed Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve, officially ending the injured tight end's season. 

The Patriots have added running back D.J. Foster to the 53-man roster. 

Gronkowski underwent surgery on his back Friday in Los Angeles. There was some hope he might be able to return if the Patriots reached the Super Bowl, but this move ends that.

More to come...