All the talk, all day and night, was about Tomas Kaberle. So impassioned were the rumors and speculation that the acquisition of the veteran Toronto defenseman by the Bruins was imminent, the big question was what number he would wear in Boston — what with Milt Schmidt's No. 15 hanging, retired, in the rafters.

So when the news finally broke last night that the B's acquired Ottawa center Chris Kelly, not the skilled and experienced Kaberle, it was, let's face it, a bit of a letdown.

The initial prevailing comment: The 30-year-old Kelly, who figures to slot in on the B's third line, will be a good addition, as long as there's more to come.

That means, of course, a defenseman.

"I kind of like this deal," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said after last night's 4-3 loss to Toronto. "I think it's going to help us. We're happy to have him in the organization. It's going to make us a better team."

But Chiarelli also expressed optimism that he will land the needed blueliner before the Feb.?28 deadline, saying the B's have nine names on their list of possible trade targets.

"I've been pretty public in saying I'd also like to get a defenseman," Chiarelli said. "That's still in the works. I know there was a lot of furor here (yesterday). I've had discussions on a number of fronts. I'd say a couple of them are closer, but I don't have anything imminent."

The B's did their part to prove change is needed, once again playing like a team sorely in need of some new blood.