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Newcomers Haven't Wasted Time

Nash, Gionta, Holden, Wingels making mark early and often

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - The new guys are certainly having all the fun.

Boston's four trade deadline acquisitions - Brian Gionta, Nick Holden, Rick Nash, and Tommy Wingels - have wasted little time making an impact on the Bruins lineup.

Through seven combined games, the quartet has piled up three goals and five assists, providing the Bruins with a spark in the absence of the injured Patrice Bergeron. With 2,848 career National Hockey League games between them, they have also provided a plethora of veteran experience to a group already stacked with a championship core.

"They've fit in seamlessly," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "You've got veteran guys that have been in other locker rooms. I can't speak to whether they're good or bad in different locker rooms. I know that ours is terrific when it comes to our leadership. I think our young guys have really helped it, as well, because they bring a lot of energy. They all have their own personality, but they're respectful. They want to learn from these veteran guys.

"Since they've been here, I think every one of them just wants to come in, do their part…so they're good people as well. It hasn't seemed to disrupt anything. We're just, again, on ice trying to find the right chemistry."

Here's a closer look at what the new acquisitions have been up to:

Brian Gionta: 0-2-2 in 1 game

The former Boston College standout and Stanley Cup champion had not played an NHL game in nearly a year, but he didn't appear to miss a beat when he made his Bruins debut on Thursday night. Gionta picked up two assists, with helpers on David Backes' first-period snipe and David Krejci's hat trick tally. The first assist was the 300th of his NHL career.

"It's awesome," said Gionta, who was signed to a one-year contract last Sunday. "It's a great league to be a part of and I missed it a lot. I think the transition has been easy with the guys in this room. It's been a great couple days and very accepting…feel right at home."

Video: PIT@BOS: Krejci flips home PPG to complete hat trick

Nick Holden: 0-1-1 in 1 game

Acquired from the Rangers on Feb. 20, the defenseman played in his first game on Thursday night against the Penguins and was an immediate contributor. Holden picked up a power-play assist with a slick feed to Krejci on the center's second goal of the night, before factoring into some strong puck movement on Krejci's hat trick, also on the power play. He landed four shots on goal in 20:25 of ice time, while playing alongside Brandon Carlo on the Bruins' third pairing.

"He was good. He made plays," said Cassidy. "He doesn't over handle pucks. What I liked about him is, what I was told about him is what he was. He moves the puck in a hurry to a good spot, he gets into his gap, he gets in the way of players without being this ferocious type of player, but he is hard enough that he is not easy to play against and will periodically make some good offensive - you saw it with Krech.

"He'll help us with the power play; he is not afraid to shoot. Five-on-five, he is a big body, a different flavor than what [Matt Grzelcyk] gives you, so it's great to have options, and good for him."

Rick Nash: 2-1-3 in 3 games

The hulking winger has teamed up with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk to build a more than formidable second line. The chemistry between Krejci and Nash has been immediate, with the duo already hooking up directly for three goals. Nash, who has scored in back to back games, had a goal and an assist during Thursday's win over the Penguins. The 33-year-old has five shots on net in each of his three games as a Bruin.

"He's a great player," Krejci said of Nash. "I'm obviously happy to be on his line. We had a good game so hopefully we can build on that and be even better next game."

"Nash is a good defensive player," added Cassidy. "So he will help [whichever] centerman he is with, kill some plays in the zone because of his reach and his hockey IQ, so it's been a good marriage [with Krejci] so far."

Video: PIT@BOS: Rick Nash redirects Krug's feed for PPG

Tommy Wingels: 1-1-2 in 2 games

The veteran forward was kept off the scoresheet against the Penguins, but like Gionta and Holden jumped right into the fray in his first game with the Bruins on Tuesday against Carolina. Wingels notched a goal and an assist to help Boston to a 4-3 overtime win and has provided a boost of energy while playing on a line with David Backes.

"There's really no time for adjustment," said Wingels. "You just go out and play. At this point in the season, you don't have time to feel your way into it, you have to be ready to go from the get go. And I know this is playoff style hockey, 20 games before the postseason.

"We went over a lot of stuff - new systems, how I want to play, how they want me to play, but ultimately it's just going out there and playing. Just your instincts, your linemates will read off you. If you make mistakes, they'll cover you."

Video: Wingels speaks to Bruins reporter, Eric Russo

B's Host Habs

The Bruins will welcome the Montreal Canadiens to TD Garden on Saturday night for the teams' final meeting of the season. Boston won all three previous matchups during an eight-day stretch in mid-January.

After being a healthy scratch on Thursday, Danton Heinen will "probably" be back in the lineup against the Habs, according to Cassidy. Boston's bench boss also said that he expects to go with the same six defensemen (Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Holden, and Brandon Carlo).

McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Noel Acciari and Riley Nash all had maintenance days on Friday and did not practice. Cassidy said Grzelcyk has a bit of a lower-body injury, while the others are battling nagging bumps and bruises. He did say all were healthy enough to suit up for game action.

As of Friday morning, Cassidy had not yet named a starting goaltender for the B's tilt with Montreal.

Monster Mash

Zdeno Chara eats up shorthanded minutes on a regular basis, but his performance on Thursday night against the Penguins was impressive even for him. Boston's captain killed the entirety of David Pastrnak's hooking penalty towards the midpoint of the second period.

On the whole, the 40-year-old was on the ice for a consecutive shift of 3:03. At the end of it, he dropped the gloves for a heavyweight bout with 6-foot-7 Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. It was a monster sequence for the big man, who had two assists in 19 minutes, 18 seconds of ice time.

"Unbelievable. I talked about that in the locker room," said Cassidy. "That is unbelievable, the physical conditioning that guy is in. He has played a lot up to that point, too - it's not like he's been sitting around for half the game. Zee, he has got some energy. Good for him. I think he wanted to talk to [Patric] Hornqvist, too, on that hit on Charlie [McAvoy], as well. Zee had some passion - well, he always does - but he had a little more tonight."

Video: PIT@BOS: Pastrnak puts home a nice feed from Chara

Power Play Emerges

After posting an 0-for-18 showing over their previous six games, the Bruins went 3 for 5 with the man advantage against the Penguins. Two of Krejci's three goals came on the PP, with Rick Nash grabbing the other.

"We executed better. We've talked about that. That's a start, right?" said Cassidy. "You make good passes and you win pucks, you're playing in the O-zone, and you're forcing the team to defend, so I think that's the start of it. We made some great heads-up plays like, the Holden play to Krech - that's not one you practice; that's a broken play where you win a puck - Jake DeBrusk does a great job winning a puck. We talked about it…one of the specifics was second effort."

Video: PIT@BOS: Krejci pots Holden's slick feed for PPG

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