By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Tomas Kaberle has had his ups and downs in a Bruins uniform.
Mostly downs, actually.
But the 33-year-old defenseman also enjoyed a nice little run over the second half of the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and seems to have finally found his Bruins bearings.
Its probably good timing for the team because the Bs run to the Cup Finals also means that the organization will be sending their conditional 2012 second round draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with prospect Joe Colborne and their 2011 first round pick.
So with the Bruins paying the full freight for their puck-moving defenseman, it meant something tangibly to Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli to see more consistency out of Kaberle when things mattered most.
Chiarelli knows his big trade acquisition has been under fire since arriving in Boston, but he wondered aloud if the long courtship before Kaberle arrived in Boston had something to do with the sky high expectations. The terms puck-moving defenseman and power play quarterback certainly didnt help douse any of the hype for Kaberle, but his wide-eyed play early on didnt help either.
Some of Kaberles best moments have also been glossed over amid the 8.2 percent power play in the playoffs that represents arguably the worst PP in Stanley Cup Finals history and Chiarelli wonders if the Bs would even be readying to play the Canucks if Kaberle werent in Black and Gold.
What hes added to the team is something we didnt have and something that was hard to find . . . almost impossible to find at the trade deadline. Thats the ability to make strong plays with the puck offensively, said Chiarelli. Thats the ability to skate into a trap like we saw this past series. I mean that play he made to Michael Ryder in our first series against Montreal in Game 3 . . . there are maybe five players in this league who can make that pass.
Who knows if we dont get that play? Who knows where we are going to end up in that series. And thats when we were down two-nothing in the third game.
Kaberles ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone and make good decisions was a key against the trap-happy Lightning, and he had a couple of key blocked shots in the decisive Game Seven.
Granted it was only 13 plus minutes of ice time in Game 7 after he played a very solid 19 minutes in the Game Six loss to Tampa Bay, but theres a pattern developing now. In his last five playoff games Kaberle has three assists and a plus-1 rating and had only the one really difficult Game 4 loss where he was overpowered multiple times amid the playoff fury.
Ive seen him skate better against the Tampa Bay series progressively. So hes, part of it is because this, the acquisition, the acquiring of him, although it was done at the trade deadline, it seems like it was two years in the making and it was well-publicized, said Chiarelli. So he comes to this citywith a history already. And a level of expectation that might be way higher than it should be.
But what you can take away from his game -- and what is significant for our team -- is his ability to slow the play down, to see seams, to make passes. But the reason we got him was because we needed that ability.
The Bs manager correctly pointed out that the power play isnt solely Kaberles fault despite the fact hes taken the blame, and a skill playmaker like Kaberle can only do so much with players that arent natural born goal scorers. Theres also the coaching component that needs to take responsibility for drawing up the same PP plays and trotting out the same players.
Kaberle looked at his best on the power play when he was paired with 19-year-old rookie Tyler Seguin but hasnt seen any time with him since they helped set up a Michael Ryder goal way back in Game Two. That speaks to the fact it takes many different factors to get the power play going for the Bs, and Kaberle is just a simple spoke in that B wheel.
Its been much publicized about how much our power play has struggled, but you cant blame Tomas Kaberle for that, said Chiarelli. Hes part of the reason, Im part of the reason, were all part of the reason its struggled, and it has to get better.
Chiarelli was asked about the contributions of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly since arriving in Boston along with Tomas Kaberle around the NHL trade deadline and its been a little easier to chart the progress of the two forwards. Both were quiet at the end of the regular season, but Kelly had a huge series against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Peverley has been solid throughout the playoffs while pushing for reps with the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line.
So all in all it was a pretty productive trade deadline for the Chiarelli and the Bruins that keeps on giving during the playoffs.
You saw both Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly on the ice in the last shift of Game 7. They are both very reliable players. Peverley can back the D up with his speed and his moves, we needed some of that, said Chiarelli. When we lost Marc Savard he was hard to replace, we had to bring in a couple of things to bolster our forward line-up. With Kelly its strong two-way play, veteran leadership, hes been far in the playoffs before, strong character.
With Peverley its the stuff I talked about. We brought them in early enough where they could assimilate and they were both part of that seven-game road winning streak. They were both part of the little dip there after that, but you see how they gel now in the room, you see them grow through the playoffs around the team.
The day after the Boston Bruins clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years, Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli was still processing all of the information.
There was genuine pride and appreciation for a job well done by his hockey team in vanquishing the Canadiens, Flyers and Lightning all in a row to get to the NHLs final dance, but there was happiness when the time expired, at first when Nathan Horton scored that goal and secondly when the time expired. It was a special feeling. You look over and see the ice, see these guys and watch how they celebrate, how they, how emotional they are. And you look to each, you try to see each of them to see how they would react. And it was just, you felt good for them, you really felt good for them. I genuinely felt a very strong and positively for them. You felt happy for them. Thats how I felt. Then immediately after that feeling passed, I realized that we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. And Im still feeling that today. Thats a great feeling. You wake up the next morning, and actually I was just talking to the assistant GM over in Vancouver this morning, and they still havent quite gotten over that feeling too. So its a tremendous feeling and its a feeling of anticipation and excitement.
From the Bruins' public-relations department:
Tickets for Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston will go on sale Tuesday, May 31 at 11:00 a.m. Tickets will be available for purchase on www.bostonbruins.com, at the TD Garden Box Office, at all Ticketmaster outlets, and via phone by calling Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000.
The purchase price for single game tickets for a Boston Bruins playoff game at the TD Garden in a given round of the playoffs that is NOT played because the round has been concluded will be refunded in full, including any associated fees. Any refunds will be issued to the same method of payment as the original purchase.
Purchases made through TicketMaster via internet or by phone of any such ticket will be refunded within two business days of the end of the playoff round.
Purchases at the TD Garden Box Office or a Ticketmaster outlet for unplayed games must be returned in person at point of purchase for refund which will be given via the same method of payment.
Tickets purchased for a given round of the playoffs are not usable for subsequent rounds or any other game, and do not guarantee access to tickets for subsequent rounds or any other game.
Due to the Boston Bruins advancing to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final the following Glee Live! In Concert! dates have been switched to accommodate their home game schedule. TD Garden in Boston, originally scheduled for Monday, June 6th at 7:30pm is now scheduled for Tuesday, June 7th at 7:30pm; Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, originally scheduled for Tuesday, June 7th at 7:30pm is now scheduled for Monday, June 6th at 7:30pm. Fans should note their current tickets will be valid at the same venue for the alternate date. At the chance fans cannot attend the concert on this new date, a refund of the ticket purchase is possible via the point of purchase. To secure a refund, please contact the outlet where you purchased your tickets. Please note requests for a refund must be received by June 6, 2011.