WILMINGTON, Mass. — With all the hottest trades rumors involving the Boston Bruins focusing on big names like Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger, a one-time Hart Trophy winner, and St. Louis forward Keith Tkachuk, a multi-time All-Star, the odds are greater that general manager Peter Chiarelli will only make a minor addition or two to his Eastern Conference-leading squad before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

And history has shown that those role players can have as big an impact on a team’s fortunes as a star. Bruins head coach Claude Julien experienced that firsthand during the 2003-04 season with Montreal. On March 2, 2004, the Habs acquired Alex Kovalev from the New York Rangers. Two days later,  Montreal made another trade that made less of a splash, but Julien still recalls it played a part in his team reaching the conference semifinals.

“I remember in Montreal, sometimes it’s not the biggest trades that you make, but even going to get Kovalev … right before the deadline, one of the big pick-ups that really helped us down the line was Jimmy Dowd coming from Minnesota,” said Julien today after his team practiced at Ristuccia Arena. “He just filled a really good role there on one of our lines there for penalty-killing, faceoffs, he was a right-hand draw man. So he became very valuable to our team in that stretch run.”

As for his current squad, Julien hasn’t felt the need to address the trade-rumor mill with his team and he’s confident that all his players are  handling this time of year the best they can.

“I haven’t really discussed any of that stuff with our team,” he said. “I’ve just gone about business and that’s just something to me that’s the reality of the game, and players have to deal with that time of year and it’s not just us, it’s every team. Basically, it’s up to them to kind of deal with that right now. And by Wednesday and all that stuff is over with, we’ll go forward.”