Kaberle ready for a "special" night vs B's

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Kaberle ready for a "special" night vs B's

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH Tomas Kaberle has viewed some photos of the Stanley Cup championship rings snapped by his former Bruins teammates, but the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman isnt in possession of his Cup bauble quite yet.

Kaberle signed with the Hurricanes during the free agency period in July after a rocky road in Boston that ended happily in Stanley Cup glory, but the much-maligned blueliner still has fond memories of his friends and feats with the Bruins.

I saw the ring ceremony on TV and I texted a few of the guys, and they showed me pictures, said Kaberle. It was fun to see. Obviously its a new season, but you always keep in touch with the players that youve played with before.

The puck-moving defenseman thinks hell be receiving his Stanley Cup champ ring next week when the Hurricanes travel to TD Garden for the rematch, and that seems only fitting.

Kaberle had nine points in 24 regular games with the Bruins during his time with Boston last year, but also served as the point man on a sputtering power play that finished as one of the worst in Stanley Cup playoff history. His role had diminished as the playoffs rolled on, but he still made a handful of plays that helped the Bruins win their Cup. The stretch pass he threw to Michael Ryder against the Habs in Game 3 of their first round heavyweight bout was one of Kaberles biggest moments in 25 up and down postseason games.

Plays like that and a day with the Cup in the Czech Republic that included spending plenty of time with countrymen David Krejci have allowed Kaberle to only remember the good things in Boston.

The Bs defensemen singled out Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara and Krejci as the players he made the strongest connections with during his time in Boston, but spoke glowingly of team dinners down the stretch that had a constant flux of different Bs teammates on a given night. That kind of thing smashed cliques and barriers, and was a big reason the Bruins hung together when things got dicey in the postseason.

I had a great time. They were great guys to me from the first day, and thats what you play for at the end of the day. Its going to be a special game me playing against them tonight, said Kaberle, who is manning Carolinas top power play unit. It was a short summer, but its nice to see everybody happy on the opposition. Hopefully we have a good game tonight.

The former Leafs and Bruins defensemen said hes truly moved on to Carolina after only six months in the Black and Gold, and his veteran touch on the power play has been added to a young, fast group of hungry players still looking to gel this year.

I love it here. There are some great teammates and a good young team. Its a fast team, said Kaberle. We havent been able to win a hockey game yet, so tonight would be a nice test for us to play against Boston a great hockey team. Hopefully we can get up on top of them for two points tonight.

We have to get more pucks to the net tonight especially if Timmy Thomas is in net because hes a very good goalie.

As Kaberle himself mentioned Carolina is also a winless team, and the 33-year defenseman isnt off to a stupendous start however with zero points and a minus-3 in three games while averaging over 20 minutes a night. On a Carolina team thats struggled mightily to keep the puck out of their net Kaberle hasnt been a big help thus far.

It would appear that both Kaberle and his new Hurricanes teammates will be hungry against the visiting Bruins and itll be up to Boston to match the intensity thatll most certainly be there for a desperate hockey team.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

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Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.