No practice for Kaberle? No problem

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No practice for Kaberle? No problem

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- For the second straight day, there was no sign of newly-acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle at Bruins practice. He's remains l in Canada, taking care of post-trade personal matters before joining the team for its stretch run beginning Tuesday in Calgary.

Still, coach Claude Julien worked ran power-play drills at Monday's practice, minus the team's new quarterback.

Quarterback, you say?

Yes, the Boston Bruins' new quarterback.

For Kaberle wasn't brought in to be a stay-at-home, shutdown defensman. He was brought to Boston to lead the power play with his excellent puck-moving skills.

But not having Kaberle for the last two practices since being acquired, forces the B's to simulate Kaberle's absence, and work on the man advantage without their new quarterback.

Is that a problem?

The Bruins don't just think he's good enough to step right in and enhance the team's power play (which currently ranks 13th in the NHL). They know he's good enough, because they saw it on Friday night against Ottawa, when he stepped right in and opened the eyes of many. And at times, was maybe even too good.

"We were looking for somebody from the back end, to quarterback our power play, and also help us move the puck there," said Julien. "There's no doubt, this guys is capable of doing that."

"When you have him on your side, and you see what he does, for me, on that first power play Friday night, he moved the puck so well, and so quickly, that boom, first thing you know, we're in the end zone. That's what we talk about when you have quarterbacks, guys that can see the play right away. As soon as the puck's on their stick, they know where it's going.

"And I think, at times, it even caught our guys a little off-guard. They weren't ready for it, to be honest with you. So that's the thing that I liked about his game."

In Kaberle's absence on Monday, the Bruins rolled with two power-play units, with Andrew Ference filling in for Kaberle on the top unit with Zdeno Chara.

Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder mixed and matched on the top unit, while Rich Peverley, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi rounded out the second unit.

Dennis Seidenberg and Steve Kampfer were on the point for the second power-play unit, and both believe that even though Kaberle was missing for the team's power-play workouts, he'll be able to step right in on Tuesday and be successful.

"We have other personnel that can jump in, and play on the power play," said Kampfer after Monday's practie. "Obviously, Kaberle adds a different element to our team. But with him gone, I think guys know that he's going to play on the power play, and things are going to happen, but we have another unit out there, that the personnel's the same, and we're trying to get better as well."

"Everybody knows what to do, and he's a great power-play guy, so he knows where to put the puck, and Chara knows how to get open, so it's not a problem," said Seidenberg. "I think he's experienced enough to make up for it.

"If you saw last game, he stepped in, without practicing once. He made good set-ups, and gave Chara great looks at the net for one-timers."

The other new face on the power play is Peverley. He was at practice for the second straight day on Monday. Julien said he liked what he saw.

"He's got a good shot," said Julien. "He's got the quick release, and just watching him this morning on the power play, he seems to be moving the puck well, and making good decisions. So we'll get a better idea in those games coming up. But that's what you get from him. We like the way he's got that quick release."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place. 

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara knew which question was coming, so he didn’t even wait for it to be asked in the postgame B’s dressing room.

“I felt pretty good for the first game. It was a good game to come back,” said Chara, who finished with a minus-1 rating in 23:31 of ice time. “Obviously, Florida is a very good skating team and it is always kind of challenging to play them. But I had no issues. It felt good to be back and, obviously, big win.”

Surprisingly the Bruins didn’t have many issues from a defensive standpoint in the six games that their captain missed with a lower body injury, and finished with a 3-2-1 record and 10 goals allowed in the aforementioned six games.

That was something Chara, off to the best start to a season in at least a couple of years, remarked on both right before and after returning to the B’s lineup on Monday.

“I was very proud. It was exciting to see how they battled and it’s never easy. Every game is a challenge and every game is a big game,” said Chara, who has one goal and six points along with a plus-11 rating in 20 games this season. “There’s never an easy game. But guys were battling. They were playing some hard opponents and they won some really big games by gutsy efforts.”

Still it was good to get Chara back into the mix as a top shutdown pairing with 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and that allowed the rest of the defensive pieces to fall into place for the Black and Gold.

Clearly there was a little bit of rust on Chara after just practicing for a couple of days and he’ll really be pushed with so many games coming up in a short period of time, but it is nearly impossible to push the 39-year-old out of the lineup after he’s worked his way back in. The timing, the reads and the positioning will all get back to top form quickly for the 19-year veteran, but his coach thought it was a good first step with him while showing no issues moving around on his skates throughout the game.

“He played okay. It was his first game back and, you know, a lot of responsibility,” said Julien. “You expect guys to work themselves back in, and I think he did a good job.”

Now Chara will focus on working himself back into the rhythm he was in prior to the injury, and preparing his nearly 40-year-old body for the grinding schedule that awaits them for the rest of this month.