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New Bruin Zanon is finding his way

By Diana C. Nearhos
Globe Correspondent / March 1, 2012
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WILMINGTON - Greg Zanon is having an easier time adjusting to his new team than his new city.

The Bruins defenseman had been in Boston for only a few hours when he got lost for the first time. Zanon, who had played in Boston only twice before Monday’s trade, went out to get lunch and explore the city and lost his way wandering the narrow streets of the North End.

“I think that’s what scared me the most was the city,’’ said Zanon, who was acquired from Minnesota in exchange for defenseman Steven Kampfer. “I’ve pretty much played my whole career in the Midwest, where it’s a little more open, not so cramped.

“I ended up down on some side street and had no idea. I was able to find my way back. That’s the way you get to know a new city.’’

On the ice, however, “It’s all hockey,’’ he said.

Zanon was in and out of the lineup for the Wild earlier this year but had been playing well of late and thought he might be safe as the trade deadline approached. He was playing Wii with his daughter when his wife got a call from her sister, who had seen news of the trade on Twitter.

Zanon said he did what he could to run with the system in Minnesota, but the Wild might have had a different idea about what they wanted to do going forward.

He doesn’t foresee much of a transition period; he might get lost in Boston but not with the Bruins.

“They play my style of hockey,’’ Zanon said.

“Obviously, every system has its little adjustments, but hockey is hockey. It’s a defensive style, so it’s pretty easy for me to just fall into my spot and allow the rush to come to me.

“I’m not too much of an on-attack defenseman. I wait for my opportunities to make a play, make a hit. I’m stepping up and doing what I can.’’

Of the three new Bruins, Zanon has the most adjustments to make. Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau came over from the Islanders, an Eastern Conference team, and both have strong ties to Boston.

Rolston played with the Bruins from 2000-04, and Mottau grew up in Quincy, then attended Boston College. So neither will have to worry about getting lost.

As for Zanon, coach Claude Julien doesn’t think the change of conference will be a big deal.

“At the end of the day, you expect him to play his game the way he’s supposed to play it, not so much adjusting to the teams in our league,’’ said Julien.

Mottau and Rolston played in Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa, but yesterday’s practice marked the first time the Bruins had their entire post-trade team together.

“We know practices are limited from here on in,’’ Julien said. “It’s a good chance for them to familiarize themselves with not just necessarily the team system but the players they’re skating with.

“In Rolly’s case, he’s been here before, he knows the organization. It might have changed a little bit from the time he was here, but he knows it. And Mike’s from the area.

“They’ve been well-received by our players. We’ve got a good group of players and they’ve been very accommodating, not just on the ice but off the ice, helping them out.’’

The Bruins have had trouble scoring and have been dealing with injuries. That’s where Rolston comes in.

His numbers may be down from the 56 points per season he averaged in his first tenure with the Bruins, but Rolston’s skill set can still help. If nothing else, he can fill in anywhere among the forwards.

Mottau and Zanon are two of what are now seven defensemen on the Bruins, not including Johnny Boychuk, who is experiencing concussion symptoms.

They will be fighting for playing time, and Julien is happy about having the depth and the options.

“Everybody’s been put on notice as far as that’s concerned,’’ he said. “There’s competition, and then we’ve got to do what’s best for the team.

“If you want to be in the lineup, then play to stay in the lineup. And if you’re not, be ready so that when you’re called upon, you’re going to go in there and try to keep that spot.’’

Boychuk skated on his own before practice, the first time he has been on the ice since being hurt Saturday against Ottawa.

Julien could not say what that meant for his return.

“It’s a day-by-day situation,’’ said Julien. “We saw what happened to [Nathan Horton].

“He has concussion symptoms. I don’t know if it’s been termed a concussion, but I don’t think it matters because we’re treating it as if it is.

“We take a cautious approach to these kinds of things and we don’t want to lose him for a long time.’’

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