The addition of three veteran players creates a competition for playing time that was sorely lacking after injuries left the club shorthanded in recent weeks.
The Bruins now have seven NHL-caliber defensemen at their disposal, and that number will reach eight when Johnny Boychuk returns from the mild concussion he suffered Saturday. That will make for some tough choices for coach Claude Julien, but he'd rather have to leave two quality blueliners in the press box than dress youngsters he wasn't as confident in.
"I'm fine with those kinds of things," Julien said after Wednesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "They're tough decisions to make, but as I've often said, I'd rather make those than not have any decisions to make and have people come into your lineup you don't feel as comfortable with. Right now we've got a lot of experience back there. If there's an injury, I feel comfortable."
While Julien is comfortable with the depth that's been added to the roster, his players will no longer be able to feel comfortable that their spots in the lineup are secure.
"If guys are not playing as well as they should be, then we've got some options to put other players in," Julien said. "Everyone's been put on notice as far as that is concerned. There's competition we've got to do what's best for the team. It's up to everybody to compete for their job and try to stay in the lineup."
Zanon practiced for the first time with the Bruins on Wednesday and is expected to make his Boston debut Thursday against New Jersey. With Boychuk expected to remain out, Julien will have to scratch just one healthy defenseman. Newcomer Mottau and Joe Corvo, who has struggled much of the season, are the likely candidates.
Up front, Rolston will help fill in with Nathan Horton (concussion) and Rich Peverley (knee) sidelined, but Julien will have choices to make there as well when the team gets healthier. The newcomers understand they could be the ones watching from the press box, and Julien is confident that won't be an issue as everyone involved is willing to put team needs and winning ahead of their own egos.
"The guys we brought in are good people," Julien said. "They understand what's at stake here. The team's always going to be first from here on in if you want to be in the lineup and stay in the lineup. And if you're not, then be ready so that when you're called upon you're going to go in there and try to keep that spot."
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