BOSTON It was a difficult night for Tomas Kaberle in his first NHL playoff experience in more than five years.
The ex-Maple Leafs defenseman arrived in Boston expected to be the answer to all of the Bruins problems when he was acquired in February, and the 33-year-old defenseman showed the good and the bad in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game One at TD Garden.
The bad included a backhanded puck reversal behind the net with a strong flick around the boards, rather than a soft pass that Dennis Seidenberg could have handled a physical mistake that allowed Scott Gomez to intercept the puck. Kaberle compounded his mistake by assuming everything was hunky dory with Seidenberg and allowing Brian Gionta a clear path to the net before he realized things had gone awry.
It was too late at that point, and Gionta flashed to the night for a goal that Tim Thomas had zero chance of stopping.
I tried to reverse it, and I reversed it a little too much, said Kaberle, a minus-2 on the evening. They put it right away, right to the back of the net. Its a quick play. We just have to learn from that and its Game One."
That goal was on both Kaberle and Seidenberg, and the defenseman pairing was also on ice for Giontas second goal in the third period off a Milan Lucic turnover that iced the game for the Habs. Combine that with an 0-for-3 performance on the power play and more frustrating passivity when it comes to shooting the puck, and Kaberle demonstrated the things that can go bad in his game.
You want to get it in the net. Sometimes you dont have time to plan the shot very much, you shoot it and sometimes you just want to throw it at the net for the rebounds, said Kaberle. Obviously we couldnt get all or some of the rebounds tonight. So like I said, more bodies, even more shots on Saturday.
On the other hand, Kaberle also made a couple of great lead passes that freed up Brad Marchand for a backhanded breakaway bid in the first period, and, later, a cross-ice pass that found the Boston agitator wide open by the right post. Marchand fanned on the certain goal in an open net, but that shouldnt take away from Kaberles ability to set him up with a pair of jaw-dropping feeds.
With his two-goal performance in Game One, Brian Gionta now has seven goals in seven games against the Bruins this season in another of many Bs Killer roles this season through the NHL.
I talked to our team and you know in the playoffs your best players have to elevate their game, said Montreal coach Jacques Martin. I thought that our top players, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez elevated their game tonight.
Rookie wunderkind Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch as expected, along witrh Shane Hnidy and Matt Bartkowski on defense.
The scratch wasnt such a bad thing for the 19-year-old Seguin to sit and watch the playoff-level of intensity to start things off, but theres a very good chance theyll need him on the power play before its all said and done in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
Theres no logic here, coach Claude Julien said. I think its just weve got twenty guys in our lineup . . . that we felt was the lineup we wanted to go with.
Marc Savard is still resting and recuperating from a concussion suffered back in January against the Colorado Avalanche, and Julien said he hasnt really made any marked improvement since initially suffering his fourth major head injury during his long NHL career.
Ive kept in contact with Savvy every week or so," Julien said. "We communicate, and things havent changed in his case, and its unfortunate for him, Im sure hes going to be sitting at home and watching these games and wishing he could be part of it because as a player that part of you will never leave.
This it the most exciting time of the year, and I know he loved the times that he was in the playoffs. And he was obviously a pretty important part of the success of our hockey club. So will we miss his play? Absolutely. You dont lose an elite player like him and not feel it.