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  • Bruins get their own version of a Stafford ‘loan’

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    Bruins get their own version of a Stafford ‘loan’

    Tim Rosenthal March 4, 2017

    As he arrived in Boston on Thursday from Winnipeg, Drew Stafford was looking forward to a new opportunity. An opportunity that may only last a few months.

    With a pair of practices under his belt in a short 48-hour span, Stafford made his debut in Black and Gold Saturday night against the Devils. The former Sabre and divisional rival made a pretty good introduction to the 17,565 on hand at TD Garden.

    Stafford replaced Jimmy Hayes on the third line and acclimated himself nicely with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner. He also earned minutes on the second power play unit with Vatrano, David Krejci, David Backes and Colin Miller.

    His stat line read as follows: one assist, four hits, and a season-high seven shots on goal in 14:07 of ice time. Not bad for a player who is still trying to accommodate himself to new surroundings both on and off the ice.

    “He’s a veteran experienced player, so he knows the league,” Cassidy said about Stafford’s first game. “He seemed to fit in well with the line he was on and the power play group he got spotted into.”

    “I was able to get settled in here for a day and a half or so and it was kind of a quick turnaround to kind of jump in,” Stafford said about the transition. “But the boys have been great. They’re very supportive, coaching staff and everybody. It made it easier to just go and play, and to get back to kind of how I want to play and to have an opportunity to get back into the rhythm and routine in minutes and making plays.”

    That rhythm was easy to find on this night. So was the Bruins’ rhythm offensively. Though they only mustered three goals on Schneider, the B’s fired 40 shots on goal and spent nearly two third’s of the game in the attacking end.

    “I think that’s a pretty good example of the way this team can play,” Stafford said.

    There was one other stat missing, however, that should have counted – his first goal in a Bruins uniform. Instead, it was waived off after the Devils won a goaltender interference challenge. Though he made contact with Cory Schneider during one of the Bruins’ five power play attempts, Stafford jammed the puck past the goal-line before the contact actually occurred.

    No matter. In a game that also included two inadvertent sirens, Stafford redeemed himself later when he assisted Ryan Spooner on his game-winner at 8:18 of the third period and the Bruins came away with an important 3-2 win in Cassidy’s 10th game as interim coach.

    “You know, we had plenty of chances and goals disallowed and this and that, so it’s a big win for us,” Stafford said. “But it’s back to work tomorrow and find ways we can try to improve.”

    “Couldn’t have asked for much more than that,” Stafford added about his first game.

    Not so much with the horn malfunction.

    “I don’t know if the wires got crossed or something – I don’t know what happened,” Stafford said about the technical difficulties. “I’ve seen that a couple of times here and there, but I’m just glad it wasn’t during anything important.”

    Certainly not more important than his first performance in a Bruins uniform.

    Whether Stafford can sustain this play in the long-term as the Bruins continue to fight for a postseason spot is a question that will be answered during the last 17 games of the regular season. Going from a Jets squad where he was a healthy scratch in three of his last four games to a Bruins team in the thick of the tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race, however, gives the 31-year-old a reason to look forward to the road ahead.

    “We’re very pleased,” Cassidy added about Stafford, “and you can tell he’s excited to play and wants to be a part of it.”

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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