Bruins

Kaberle has 'mixed feelings' on Leafs' return

Kaberle has 'mixed feelings' on Leafs' return

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comTORONTO The stage is set for Tomas Kaberle to have a memorable, explosive performance in his first game back at the Air Canada Centre as a visiting NHL player.The 33-year-oldBruins defenseman has three assists and is a plus-5 in 12 games since getting dealt to Boston for Joe Colborne, a first round pick and a conditional draft pick last month, and has soaked up nearly 22 minutes of ice time per night as a stalwart member of the blueline corps.But the sputtering power play is mired in a 2-for-32 stretch since Kaberles arrival, and thus far the All-Star level defenseman hasnt been the cure to all of Bostons special teams ills. Since it was theexpress purpose that Kaberle was brought into Boston to begin with,the struggle to score on the man advantage hasbeen a bit eyebrow-raising.It certainly isnt the puck-moving defensemans solefault, but tonights game against his old Leafsteam would be the right kind ofsetting for both player and power play unit to explode on the scene.Kaberle and David Krejci both know that its time for them to shoot the puck a little bit more and perhaps do a little of the unexpected to set things in motion, and then ride the momentum once its been kick-started. Both players are known for their deft passing abilities, and penalty kill units are playing way off both skaters right now.At this point the kick start is whats required for a little 5-on-4 effectiveness, and a little confidence in Boston's special teams.We scored 5-on-3 a couple of games ago, but obviously 5-on-4 its been a while, said Krejci. We got a post last game, but each guy myself included needs to do a slightly better job.I need to shoot the puck a little more, Kaberle same thing where he needs to shoot a little more, Chara needs to try to shoot it with the purpose of scoring goals, said Krejci. Lucic needs to be around the net and pick up the rebounds right around the goal line. Its just a little bit that each guy is missing, but I think the power play is going to be good once we get it going. We have the guys. Were going to be good.The Bruins will need a functioning power play for a long playoff run and they require a convincing victory after losing five of their last six games, and doing it in front of the Hockey Night in Canada audience would certainly not lack for dramatic effect. Kaberle said he has mixed feelings about returning to the Leafs organization where he was drafted and developed, and he can understand the kinds of hopeless feeling in the other room now that Torontos flickering playoff hopes are nigh impossible.Its mixed feelings, said Kaberle. Being here for so long and being in that position that the Leafs are in right now is difficult. Obviously everybody has done it before and been traded, so hopefully its going to be a fit in Boston.Tonight Ill do my best for Boston and hopefully well get the two points, said Kaberle. Were just focusing on the game, and not looking at the long run of what we do or what Toronto will do. We just want to win a hockey game and play smart. We have 12 games left and we want to play good hockey going into the playoffs.Claude Julien understood that returning to Toronto would be a big deal for a lifelong Leafs player like Kaberle, and also revealed that the Bs are beginning to see some of the defensemens personality behind the scenes.I think hes excited to be back here. I havent heard him say anything bad about the organization. He was treated well by Toronto, has a lot of respect for the organization and I think hes excited, said Julien. We feel our transition game has improved with Kaberle and we feel like hes made the players around him better. The one thing about Tomas is that he spent close to a dozen years in Toronto and its his first time with another organization. Hes trying to fit in. He wants to fit in, and were going to give him time to do that.When you see him playing you can tell that he wants to be part of the solution. I like his attitude and I like his approach. I have a feeling that hell only get better as we move on here.Andrew Ference will be game time decision for Claude Julien after taking part in the optional skate with the Bruins at Air Canada Centre, but it appears that the veteran defenseman will be back in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 26. Julien lambasted Steve Kampfer after Bostons overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, and Ference looks like his lower body injury has healed enough to play.Hes going to be a game time decision, said Julien. If hes in the lineup hes a player with some experience, and hes been very good for us this year. Hes been consistent and he had a good year until the injury set him back.Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off during the optional morning skate, and should be getting the starting nod after Tuukka Rask made back-to-back starts against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators.Tyler Seguin didnt have much of a reaction to the 2500 fine given to Patric Hornqvist on Friday after catching an elbow to the left ear lobe and simply said that he supported the league trying to get head shots out of the game.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.