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Still adjusting, Greg Zanon reacts to healthy scratch

WILMINGTON — When the Bruins traded for Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau at the trade deadline, it created a situation in which they would have multiple veteran defensemen battling for playing time. After all, when everyone is healthy, the B’s will have eight defensemen. That would likely leave the likes of Mottau, Zanon and perhaps Joe Corvo competing for one spot.

After putting forth a strong showing in his Bruins debut last Thursday, Zanon appeared to be a good candidate to stick as one of the six blueliners in the B’s lineup each night. In the games that followed, however, he took a few strides backward, knocking a puck into the net Sunday against the Rangers and screening Tim Thomas [1] on a Maple Leafs goal. He was a minus-4 over a three-game stretch, and was made a healthy scratch Thursday against the Sabres in favor of Mottau.

“I don’t make those decisions, so I just come,” Zanon said of being scratched. “I prepare the same every day. I prepare like I’m playing, and then when you find out if you’re in or you’re not in, that’s the way it goes. That’s the staff, that’s the management’s choice. All I can do is make sure that I’m ready for Saturday’s game, whether I play or not play, and just make sure my body’s ready to go at all times.”

If there was any message delivered by Claude Julien [2] Thursday, Zanon prefers to keep it between him and the coach. Julien had said after Thursday’s morning skate that he had liked the way Zanon was playing, yet he still opted to sit the 31-year-old against Buffalo.

“It was [Julien’s] decision,” Zanon said. “I don’t ask questions about it. It was, you know, ‘You’re not going tonight.’ He said I’d been playing well. It’s just, I wasn’t going.”

After Friday’s optional practice (in which Zanon took part) at Ristuccia Arena, Julien said the move was more about getting Mottau into a game. The 33-year-old hadn’t played since making his Bruins debut last Tuesday against the Senators, so Julien wanted to make sure he kept the Quincy native fresh.

“It was an opportunity to put Mike Mottau in,” Julien said of the decision. “We’re trying to do a little bit of what we did with [Shane] Hnidy last year, trying to keep everybody I guess as fresh and as sharp as we can. Every once in a while, you pull a guy out, you put another guy in. When Ference is back, we’ve got eight D, so we’ve just got to kind of monitor that in a way that we’re going to try to do the best we can, so that guys don’t sit around too too long.”

Added Julien: “I didn’t mind [Mottau’s] game last night. He’s a smart player, he makes smart plays, good decisions. He finishes his checks when he has to. I thought he was good last night. I really did. You say that because he’s been sitting around for a while, watching some games, and he gets back in the lineup and plays the way he did. That’s exactly what we need from the players that aren’t playing every night. When you come in, remain sharp.”

As for Zanon, the former Wild blueliner says he is still getting adjusted to how the Bruins handle rushes, and that a lot of the acclimation process is getting used to the other defensemen and their positioning. Known as a safe defenseman capable of blocking a lot of shots, he doesn’t feel the flubs in his own end led to him spending Thursday night’s game in the press box.

“The D zone thing, I don’t think it’s been the issue,” he said. “You’d have to ask [Julien]. I don’t know what it was. Obviously, any time you can watch from up top, it’s a lot slower. It’s a way different game when you watch from up top. Obviously, when you’re on the ice, you base everything more on reaction and what you see on the time. It helps a little bit to be up there, but you also want to be in the game.”