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

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.