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Zinovjev playing transition game

MONTREAL -- Imagine that you've just moved to a foreign country. You don't speak the language, so it's a challenge just to do basic things like read the newspaper or order food off a menu. When it comes to your job, as long as no words are needed, you're fine. But when it comes time to communicate, particularly to take instruction, it's difficult.

That's what Bruins center Sergei Zinovjev has had to deal with since arriving in Boston. The 23-year-old Russian is trying to adjust not only to playing a different style of hockey but to a different language and culture.

"I think he's getting a better understanding of the language the more he is over here," said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan. "He's kind of thrust into speaking English and trying to figure it out. It's a little bit of a challenge but we've got people like [Sergei Samsonov] and Andrei [Popandoupolo], our massage therapist, who help us and help him with any of the translation.

"There's no question it presents a bit of a challenge. You get thrown into an environment where the language is foreign to you, people are foreign to you, the city is foreign to you and then you're expected to jump on the ice and be that player that everybody expects you to be."

From an on-ice perspective, Zinovjev has displayed excellent offensive skills and has been capable in his own zone as well. In his first NHL game, Saturday in New Jersey, he earned his first assist when he set up Samsonov with a dazzling move. Last night, he was in the lineup against the Canadiens. He appears to be making strides every day.

Samsonov said he's tried to help his new teammate adjust. He remembers when he first came to the US from Russia, but he at least had some preparation.

"It was tough at first," said Samsonov. "The more you play and being around the guys, you learn a lot. I think I had a bit of a jump on it. I toured in Canada a lot as a teenager so I kind of had an idea of the lifestyle and a little bit of the game.

"I think Sergei's a little different. He's coming in at an older age and he's starting from scratch. I do remember my first year, it was pretty tough. I took English for three or four years in school [in Russia] but once you're over here, it's a totally different story. There's a lot going on and you probably learn more here than you ever do in school."

Samsonov said he can see that the move has been stressful on Zinovjev but he believes that's temporary.

"I think he's having a hard time right now," he said. "He stays in the hotel, I think if he stays here, he's going to learn a lot of things like getting a house and getting a car. I'm sure he's going to learn from those experiences. But as far as culture goes, I'm sure it's hard to pick up in two weeks. I'm sure he's just taking it day by day."

Trappings of victory

The Canadiens have now been outscored, 13-2, in their last three games. The key for them seems to be getting on the board early and switching into their trap mode. When they score first, they are 5-0-0-0. When the opponent gets the first goal, they are 0-5-0-0 . . . At 8:28 of the first period, forward Sandy McCarthy, known more for his toughness than his offensive touch, picked up his first penalty minutes of the season when he and Montreal's Darren Langdon dropped the gloves. McCarthy figures this is just the second time in his 12-year pro career that he has registered a goal before a penalty. After breaking in with Salt Lake of the International League in 1992-93, when he had 18 goals and 220 PIMs in 77 games, he played for Calgary the next season and thought he could keep the offense going as well as fight. "I had about four or five goals in about 15 games and no penalty minutes and my coach [Dave King] said, `You're going about this all wrong.' He told me to just go run this guy named Gretzky and you'll have a fight. It worked." . . . Left wing P.J. Axelsson needs one assist to reach 100 for his NHL career . . . The Bruins will host the Habs tomorrow night at the FleetCenter, just their third home game of the season. They will face the Penguins in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon.

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