Before we get to a look at newest Bruin Andrej Meszaros, it’s important to take a minute and remind everybody — particularly the growing number of “fan boys” in the New England hockey media — that there’s no need to go all Chicken Little on what the Bruins did at the NHL trade deadline.
You can allow yourself to see Montreal acquiring Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders and feel a small shred of panic: The popular story line you’re being fed is that Vanek is a “Bruins Killer.” Truth is, while he may have been a major thorn in the team’s side earlier in his career — with 30 goals and 61 points in 53 games against Boston — it’s not always been the case.
This season alone, Vanek has just one goal in four games against the Bruins, including a pointless effort his last time out with six turnovers. But I digress…
There’s a reason the Bruins didn’t do a whole heck of a lot at the trade deadline: Because they didn’t need to. In fact, of the four division leaders at the deadline, only St. Louis could be considered to have made an ice-shattering deal. The Blues took Ryan Miller off Buffalo’s hands, but even team officials there conceded that it wasn’t necessarily a huge upgrade between the pipes. Certainly, Miller is among the 10 best goaltenders in the world, but where he stacks up on that list is somewhat of a question mark — he was bogged down with a bad team in Buffalo and he was the backup to Jonathan Quick for Team USA in Sochi, so it’s hard to really know what St. Louis can expect from the veteran netminder.
Back to the Bruins, they had one glaring need (made more glaring by long-term injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid). They needed blue-line depth, which they acquired in Meszaros and Corey Potter, without sacrificing a whole lot in return. Certainly, we could look at Meszaros and his string of healthy scratches in Philadelphia early in the season, and assume that they might have been able to land better. Doing that, though, likely gave them pause — were the Bruins willing to part with active roster players for a defenseman that may or may not have worked out? Obviously not.
Nor should they, despite how the Chicken Littlers out there are crying fowl. Why would the Bruins blow up a roster that is currently second in the NHL in both fewest goals allowed and total goal differential? To do so would be crazy.
The Bruins have depth — given the manner in which all four forward lines have contributed to carrying the team through a busy post-Olympic week, the young defensemen continue to improve (Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski chief among them) and owning one of the best goaltenders in the world in Tuukka Rask (two U’s, two K’s, two points).
Sure, they could have made a big move to generate some newspaper headlines and give the internet hockey world plenty to talk about.
As for those of us of far more sound mind, we’ll gladly wait for those headlines to come in June after a long Stanley Cup Playoff run.
Like forward Gregory Campbell said this week, “Successful teams aren’t built at the trade deadline. They’re built beforehand.”
MIGHTY MESZAROS? I’m not sure Andrej Meszaros is going to be the answer the Bruins hoped to have in losing Dennis Seidenberg for the season. No, scratch that, I’m reasonably certain he’s not the answer.
But, having said that, I’m not convinced he’s going to be a complete flop, either.
Sure, he ran through a pretty ugly stretch of healthy scratches early in the season in Philadelphia — then again, the Flyers got off to such a horrendous start to the season (including a coaching change) that it’s hard to take much of anything from playing time allocation prior to Christmas on that squad.
Meszaros is a poor-man’s Seidenberg: big, strong, good skater, can provide some puck movement. It’s a band-aid, not a long-term solution, but that’s what the trade deadline should be for teams that are already Stanley Cup contenders.
Look, Meszaros is an insurance policy — last year, the Bruins used nine different defenseman during the playoffs during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago. With McQuaid’s status highly questionable, the Bruins needed depth, and that’s what they added in Meszaros and, to a lesser extend, Corey Potter.
DEPTH KEY: With 17 games in 31 days in the month of March, it’s going to be a grind for the Bruins — just like it is with every NHL team driving toward the postseason in the wake of Sochi.
There is good news, though, as we’ve seen from the last week’s worth of games from Boston. The Bruins have plenty of depth that can carry them.
It was the play of Gregory Campbell and the fourth line in New York to beat the Rangers on Sunday to help stop a two-game post-break skid by the Bruins, a David Krejci hat trick and backup goalie Chad Johnson remaining unbeaten on home ice in a 4-1 win over Florida on Tuesday, and a great effort from the predominately Swedish third line on Thursday in a blanking of the Capitals. Perhaps the best sign of all was seeing Boston avenge a losson Saturday against Washington — one of the teams that was supposed to be much-improved following the NHL Trade Deadline.
There will be lulls this month, for certain, with the travel and oddity of some of the Western teams sprinkled into the schedule. But the Bruins have been the model of consistency with a average of nearly seven wins in every 10-game stretch to date this season.
It’s not likely to change this month, either. Barring injuries — which seem to have dried up some recently — the B’s are well-positioned to capitalize on what could be a stretch that separates the proverbial pretenders from the actual contenders in the logjam that is the NHL standings.
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