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Newly acquired Drew Stafford will join Bruins tomorrow morning 03.01.17 at 6:21 pm ET
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Drew Stafford is on his way to Boston. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Drew Stafford is on his way to Boston. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

It’s Winnipeg to Boston and not a moment too soon for Drew Stafford.

Acquired by the Bruins for a conditional sixth-round draft choice in 2018, the 31-year-old Stafford is expected to touch down in Boston tomorrow morning, but will not be present for the morning skate ahead of the team’s head-to-head with the Rangers. That would lead you to believe that he would be unavailable for the Bruins in the game, of course, but that is a ‘coach’s decision’, according to GM Don Sweeney.

But no matter when he gets in, the Bruins are eager to see what the veteran shooter can bring to the club’s right side.

“We’re fortunate that we are able to add Drew to our lineup,” said Sweeney. “Excited that the player has the ability to play up and down the lineup, has scoring attributes, has some size and strength, and can hopefully be a good complement to our group.”

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Bruins acquire winger Drew Stafford from Jets for draft pick 03.01.17 at 3:43 pm ET
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The Bruins have acquired Drew Stafford from the Jets. ( Bruce Fedyck/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have acquired Drew Stafford from the Jets. ( Bruce Fedyck/USA Today Sports)

The trade deadline seemingly came and went without a move for the Bruins. But then, nearly 15 minutes after the deadline had passed, ESPN reported that the Bruins successfully made a deal for a forward.

That forward, as it turns out, is Jets winger Drew Stafford.

Acquired by the Bruins in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick, the 31-year-old Stafford, a pending free agent, comes to Boston with four goals and 13 points in 40 games for the Jets this season.

A bottom-sixer with the ability to move up and down the lineup, Stafford’s acquisition helps address a right side that’s become a revolving door of sorts once you get beyond the top six group of David Pastrnak and David Backes. For a team that’s received extremely limited production from Jimmy Hayes and Riley Nash, the two most common bottom-six right side options, the 6-foot-2 Stafford can bring another option to that mix and doesn’t rush an AHL player to the NHL or put a different skater out of their natural position.

For the Bruins, it’s a low-risk gamble with the hope that Stafford could potentially channel his old scoring touch.

It was just a year ago that Stafford tallied 21 goals for the Jets, and he comes to Boston as a four-time 20-goal scorer.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will meet with the media at 4:30 p.m. at Warrior Ice Arena.

Bruins know GM Don Sweeney could make trade despite recent success 03.01.17 at 4:25 am ET
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The Bruins may or may not make a move by Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins may or may not make a move by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The trade deadline can change a team’s expectations, but it can’t change how they go about their day-to-day business. That would actually be a bad thing to happen to the Bruins, too, who have wins in seven of eight games under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“I’m going to go to practice in the morning, have a good breakfast, do a little video, and see what happens,” Cassidy said of his deadline day plans, which begin with an 11:30 a.m. practice. “That’s out of my control. I think that’s a question better served for management.”

But the Bruins remain in a rather tricky position ahead of Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. They are six points out of first place in the Atlantic Division (and have played one less game the division-leading Canadiens), and just four points from being on the outside looking in.

The Bruins have just as many reasons to buy as they do to sell.

That’s not to say anybody in that room knows just what second-year general manager Don Sweeney will do on Wednesday.

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Bruins d-man Colin Miller ejected for massive hit on Coyotes’ Alex Burmistrov 02.28.17 at 11:47 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Colin Miller brought the TD Garden to their feet with his fifth goal of the season scored just 3:06 into the first period of a 4-1 win over the Coyotes. He brought them to their feet a period later, and maybe even louder than when he scored a goal, when he delivered a massive attacking blue line hit on Coyotes forward Alexander Burmistrov.

But it cost him.

Hit with a five-minute charging major and tossed from the game, the 24-year-old Miller’s night came to an end after just 10 shifts and 6:27 of time on ice. Already in the locker room in a suit and tie, Miller reflected on the hit following the club’s victory.

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Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins continue to impose will at home in latest win 02.28.17 at 9:37 pm ET
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The Bruins chased Arizona goaltender Mike Smith after two periods in a 4-1 win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins chased Arizona goaltender Mike Smith after two periods in a 4-1 win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Over the last two seasons, TD Garden has been an undeniable source of frustration for the Bruins. It’s shown in the standings in back-to-back seasons, and it was one of the first things that interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to address when he replaced Claude Julien.

Not just because he wanted to, of course, but because the majority of the B’s games down the stretch were to be played in town.

That’s a fancy way of telling you that the Bruins were not going to do much of anything in terms of competing for a postseason berth if they continued to chug along at their 12-13-0 under Julien mark at home.

Back in Boston after a bye week and a four-game road trip, that remained a focus for the Cassidy-led Bruins on Tuesday night, and the Bruins have rattled off four consecutive wins on home ice for the first time since Nov. 2014, the latest behind a 4-1 pounding of the Coyotes.

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Source: Bruins among those interested in Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak 02.28.17 at 8:22 pm ET
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The Bruins are rumored to have an interest in Jaroslav Halak. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are rumored to have an interest in Jaroslav Halak. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in nine years, the Bruins have remained on the sidelines throughout the annual trade deadline madness. There’s still time for the Black and Gold to make a move between now and tomorrow’s 3 p.m. deadline, and the B’s are looking.

Late on Monday night, an NHL source informed WEEI.com that the Bruins are among the list of NHL teams with a significant interest in veteran Islanders netminder Jaroslav Halak.

The 31-year-old Halak had struggled for the Isles this season, with just six wins and a .904 save percentage in 21 games, and was waived by the team on Dec. 30. Assigned to the franchise’s AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers after he went unclaimed on waivers, Halak has been lights out in the AHL, with 14 wins and a .933 save percentage in 18 games for the club.

It would make sense for the Bruins to have an interest in Halak, even after back-to-back wins for backup Anton Khudobin, who is still 3-5-1 with an .896 save percentage in 10 games for the Big B’s this season. It’s been a year-long struggle, too, as between Khudobin, Zane McIntyre, and Malcolm Subban, B’s backup netminders have a 3-10-2 record on the season.

And though Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did not acknowledge any one move or target by name, he did admit that it’s an area that’s been talked about in the trade market, which closes tomorrow afternoon.

“Anton has played well the last couple of starts,” Sweeney admitted on Tuesday night. “I think it’s an area — it was certainly an area of concern for us. I’ve had some discussions, yes.”

According to the source, the Islanders would have to retain salary on a deal to successfully move Halak, who has a $4.5 million cap hit through next season, which could make things tricky when it comes to hammering out a deal. Per the NHL CBA, the Islanders could retain up to 50 percent of Halak’s salary owed to facilitate a trade.

Halak has 206 wins and a .916 save percentage in 388 career NHL games.

Bruins forward Ryan Spooner: ‘[Julien] didn’t like me as a player’ 02.28.17 at 6:49 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner's game has shined under Bruce Cassidy. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center Ryan Spooner’s game has shined under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins, although still very much locked in a fight and a half to the finish line, are breathing a bit easier these days. It feels as if the chains on some of the club’s younger players, namely Ryan Spooner, have been loosened and that they’re more free to play a game that suits their strengths than they were under decade-long bench boss Claude Julien.

With wins in six of seven games under Cassidy, and just a few wins back of first place in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are rolling, and Spooner is no exception, with two goals and six points over that span.

There’s a comfort in Spooner’s game that simply wasn’t there under Julien, too, and he admitted such on Tuesday.

“I felt like the last coach, he just didn’t really trust me,” Spooner said following the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena before tonight’s head-to-head with the Coyotes. “It might’ve been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play.”

That philosophy has worked for the Spooner line with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes on the wings, and will have to work if the club is to enter the trade deadline on a high note and able to keep pace with the rest of the recharged Atlantic.

Tuukka Rask gets the start in net tonight against the ‘Yotes. The 29-year-old Rask stopped 33-of-36 shots in a 6-3 win over the Stars on Sunday, and comes into action with 29 wins and a .912 save percentage in 49 games this season. Rask has been lights out against Arizona in his career, with eight wins and a .940 save percentage in nine career games, including a 31-of-32 win in his last start against the Coyotes, which came earlier this season.

Arizona counters with Mike Smith. Smith has 16 wins and a .915 save percentage in 40 games this season, and was shelled for six goals on 29 shots against in his last outing, a 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks on Feb. 23. Smith has just three wins and an .893 save percentage in 15 career games against the Bruins, and has one win and an .870 in eight games at the TD Garden.

Both forward Matt Beleskey and defenseman John-Michael Liles will sit as the healthy scratches. Liles’ return to the press box means that 24-year-old Colin Miller is back in action.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

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