With less than a week remaining before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Boston Bruins are still trying to figure out who they are.

Just a few days ago, it seemed obvious to most of us that they were a team in the midst of a rebuilding project. Any sort of deep playoff run seemed unlikely. The Bruins hadn’t beaten a team ahead of them in the standings since December.

All that may have changed Saturday night in Dallas. Finishing off their longest trip of the season, the Bruins rallied from two goals down in a 7-3 win against the mighty Stars. They headed home with a winning record for the trip and a renewed sense of confidence for the last two months of the regular season.

There were a lot of good things on display in Texas. The Bruins’ power play, 0 for 19 over the first five games of the trip, connected three times. They showed a strong net-front presence and an ability to slow Dallas’ lightning-quick transition game.

Brad Marchand scored twice to become a 30-goal scorer for the first time in his career. He’s leading the Bruins in goals, and in doing everything he can to knock the opposition off its game – such as when he blew a kiss to Stars forward Patrick Eaves after a second-period dust-up.

“We know we’re a good team,” said Marchand, “especially the way we’ve been playing lately and on the road. We showed a lot of character.”

Still, first-year general manager Don Sweeney must decide what course he will plot for this team’s future. Boston has stockpiled draft picks in recent years, and will see the arrival of a bumper crop of young defensemen over the next 18 months when Wiley Sherman (Harvard), Rob O’Gara (Yale) and Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University) turn pro.

He has a consistent 20-goal scorer in Loui Eriksson who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. And he has an aging veteran in Zdeno Chara, who could use a little less ice time and a little more talent around him if he is going to hoist the Stanley Cup again before he retires.

Does Sweeney add or subtract with the current team? Does he move some of that young talent to bolster this current lineup, or does he trade veterans to add even more depth for the future?

Sweeney wasn’t tipping his hand over the weekend, saying only that the activity on the trade market was starting to pick up. That means he’ll be picking up the phone a little more frequently as he approaches Monday’s deadline.

In many ways, this has been a bridge year for the Bruins. Sweeney and team president Cam Neely don’t want to get off that bridge for a postseason run that will fall short of winning it all.

Most fans would agree that this team hasn’t had the look of a Cup contender this season. Yet Saturday night, facing a team that leads the NHL in scoring, it looked exactly like that. It was the type of win that makes a statement, even if the team itself wasn’t buying into that.

“Every time there’s something good that happens it’s a statement game, or we’re in a slump, or this and that,” said Coach Claude Julien.

“We’re even-keeled. We don’t get overexcited about certain things.”

That may have been the biggest news of all Saturday night. There is confidence in the Bruins’ dressing room. There is belief that the win over the Stars wasn’t a fluke.

Maybe that bridge could lead to something good, and a lot earlier than we expected.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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