By Joe Haggerty
It was pretty difficult to glide right on by the giddiness in the voices of many Bruins players after this weekends win over the Senators.
It wasnt happiness over an unrelenting effort in Ottawa, because it always could have been a bit better.
It wasnt about the Bs defense storming into shutdown mode, because defensive leaders like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg admitted things certainly could have been a tad more mistake proof.
It wasnt Bostons three-goal rally in the third period that sparked up a twinkle in the eyes of grizzled hockey vets like Mark Recchi and Claude Julien eyes that have seen thousands of NHL hockey games over their years of service.
The buoyancy and excitement was all about defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and what hes going to bring to the Bs during five-on-five play and more importantly what the 32-year-old is going to contribute to the power play.
Everyone got a glimpse on Friday night at Scotiabank Place, and will have to wait for more until Kaberle catches up with the team in Calgary on Monday after taking care of the necessary visa paperwork thats all the rage during this years trade deadline.
On the ice, though, Kaberle is one of those rare guys that makes everybody else around him better in the offensive end.
He brings something we didnt have. You could see that. We were moving the puck well and quickly, and we were getting good opportunities because of it, said Chara. He brings so much to the power play and to our game. Its so exciting to have him here, and its really an honor to play with him.
It brings confidence to everybody because you know hes going to make that pass, and hes going to help everyone.
While the power play only went 1-for-5 in Kaberles first go-round, there was no denying the newly acquired defensemans potential future role as a power play specialist. Provided Kaberle doesnt have to kill penalties with any great regularity in Boston, the blueliner looks like he may just be running the point for both power play units -- and spending close to the full two minutes out on the man advantage during each man advantage chance.
Its a role that talented offensive defenseman like Mark Streit and Marc-Andre Bergeron have filled as power play specialists for the Montreal Canadiens, and its something the Bs could experiment with as Kaberle gets his game going for the Black and Gold.
That kind of cool-handed, creative presence on both units will open up the puck movement for both power play squads, and its exactly what the Bruins paid for with a first round pick, a top prospect and a conditional pick based on the Bs achieving their goals with the team or Kaberle following the year.
Hes pretty composed back there, and its pretty nice to have that puck-mover, said Recchi. There arent many guys that can do that as well. When they jump at him he can distribute the puck to where the open guys are, and there arent many of those guys out there.
It makes everybody else better because they see that and they say oh crap, I can go out there, drag the blue line and make the play. Players see that stuff, and it makes other guys better when you see it every day. Just look at it in Detroit where youve got a guy like Nik Lidstrom that you can watch do it every day. Obviously youre not going to move the puck exactly like him, but you get composed and learn how to move with the puck. When you have guys like Kaberle, it has an impact that lets other guys get better around him.
What the Bruins might not have envisioned was the influence that Kaberle could have on a young puck-moving defenseman in training like Steve Kampfer. The mobile 22-year-old blueliner has shown off the quick-skating and sound decision-making of a potential puck-mover in the making, but there werent a lot of teammates he could have patterned his NHL game after.
Kaberle will be that guy blazing a trail for Kampfer to follow, and will have a ripple effect on the calculated risks and creativity shown by the rest of the team particularly the defensemen skating in a group with him.
The biggest single Bruins player to gain in Kaberles arrival?
Its got to be Zdeno Chara, who will use his 105.9 mph slap shot as the big gun weapon on his power play unit, and will get teed up for chance after chance provided Kaberle is at the controls calmly working the puck into the open seams around the offensive end.
It makes all the sense in the world that Recchi, Chara and Julien were among the happiest with Kaberles arrival on that very first day.
But it wont take along for the rest of those in Bruins Nation to join right along with the growing chorus of Kaberle fans in Boston.