PHILADELPHIA -- Miroslav Satan sees the crowd around his locker stall growing after every game and the shocked expressions on every face makes him smile and, yes, sort of crack a little laugh, too.
A midseason free-agent signing by Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, Satan has been the Bruins' most prolific scorer in the postseason so far, with 5 goals and 5 assists through nine games entering Game 4 Friday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) at the Wachovia Center against the Flyers.
Satan, a Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins last season, knows you're all surprised to see this kind of playoff production coming from a player who just over four months ago was renting his own ice time and skating by himself at a rink on Long Island.
But he most definitely is not.
"For me it was always important to have the trust from the coaching staff and trust usually equals the ice time. Here with Claude (Julien), it took a little bit when I first joined the team. I had to learn what was going on around the team and get to know everybody and how it worked. The coaching staff had to have time to figure it out and get trust in me. Now everything seems to be in place." -- Miroslav Satan"For me it was always important to have the trust from the coaching staff and trust usually equals the ice time," Satan said Friday morning. "Here with Claude (Julien), it took a little bit when I first joined the team. I had to learn what was going on around the team and get to know everybody and how it worked. The coaching staff had to have time to figure it out and get trust in me. Now everything seems to be in place. I have trust from the coaching staff, and usually in the past when I have had that, I produced."
Satan is producing at a marvelous clip. He has goals in each of the last four games, and three of his five goals this postseason have been game-winners, including one in double-overtime in Game 4 against Buffalo.
He scored 9 goals in 38 regular-season games after joining the Bruins on Jan. 5, but three in the final five games and six after the Olympic break, when his legs and hands finally looked NHL ready.
"It's a great story," his linemate, Milan Lucic, told NHL.com.
It's just not all that surprising.
Chiarelli signed Satan to a pro-rated, one-year contract after the 2010 NHL Winter Classic because he had scored over 350 goals in more than 1,000 NHL games, and the Bruins needed scoring depth if they were going anywhere.
At the time of the signing, Chiarelli even called Satan a one-dimensional player.
"We're not getting him for his defensive capabilities," Chiarelli said in early January, according to the Boston Herald. "He's been a world-class player his whole (career) and he took a significant, significant pay cut to join our team. I've got to hand it to him.''
To his credit, Satan was also ready to go the minute he signed his contract. He was in shape thanks to his individual workouts at Iceworks in Syosset, N.Y., the Islanders' practice rink.
He promised the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation that he would play for his country in the Olympics, so his workouts were built around conditioning and individual skill drills. He occasionally skated with some of the Isles' injured players, including Doug Weight and Rick DiPietro, but when he wasn't alone he mostly shared the ice with college-age players.
To work on his shooting drills, Satan needed a goalie. Lenny DiCostanzo, the head equipment manager for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, occasionally volunteered.
"Actually, I enjoyed it," Satan said. "It was different to be with only two guys on the ice or sometimes by myself. There was no pressure. I could work on whatever I wanted. I always knew I might decide to play next week so I kept myself in good shape."
Once he made the promise to play at the Olympics, Satan realized he needed to find an NHL team. He would not be ready for the Olympics if his last real game was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against Detroit.
"I felt if I was looking to sign with somebody than I wanted to sign with somebody that will also be in the playoffs, so the Bruins seemed like a good choice," Satan said. "They talked about a lack of scoring for the first half of the season and I thought this could work out for the Bruins and also for me."
Satan said he received a few offers over the summer, but chose to wait because nothing seemed right.
"I had a long season last year and a tiring season, so I didn't really rush into (signing)," Satan said. "I took my time and then it got into October and November. Then, in December, I knew I'd probably sign somewhere. I didn't want to just do it and go somewhere if I didn't have a feeling about it, so it took some time for me to feel it."
Even though he raised the Cup last June, Satan had a tough ride with the Penguins. He spent the last month of the regular season in the AHL due to salary-cap problems and what he perceives as a lack of trust from the coaching staff.
Right Wing - BOS
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 10
SOG: 28 | +/-: 5He rejoined the Penguins for their playoff run, but played mostly on the third and fourth lines, averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time per night. He went without a point in the Final and was scratched for Game 6.
Satan made sure to work out a clause in his contract with the Bruins that he wouldn't be subject to the same late-season demotion.
"That was one of my conditions, that I wanted to have that no-move clause, and it was no problem," he said. "I wanted to see from the team that if they wanted me they had some trust in me and they wanted to use me, not to just fill an empty spot for one month."
Ironically, Satan is filling a role that virtually was vacant before he got there.
His sublime skills have breathed new life into a once dormant Bruins offense and are a huge reason why Boston is just a win away from a securing a once-improbable berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"That's the reason they brought him in," Lucic said of Satan's offense. "He's feeling real confident right now and he's playing like the guy that he knows he is. He needs to keep that up."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl