There have been 12 Bruins games featuring Tomas Kaberle in the lineup, and just 10 shots have found their way on net off his stick in that time.
That’s a pace less than even what the famously gun-shy Kaberle was posting in Toronto blue and white before he was dealt to Boston Feb. 18 after 12 years with the Maple Leafs.
Tonight will be Kaberle’s first game against his old team since the deal. If you think other teams have quickly adjusted to the Bruins’ offense with Kaberle manning the blue line at full strength and on the power play, wait until you see how the Leafs handle the veteran.
Leafs head coach Ron Wilson explained his team’s plan of attack to the media, including the Toronto Sun, Friday after Toronto’s practice. He said:
“We’ll be aware of where he is on the ice, but our game plan is not to shut down Tomas Kaberle. The Bruins have a lot of dangerous weapons. We have to play the game with energy and speed, similar to the way we played in Boston (a 4-3 win Feb. 15).”
The Bruins didn’t practice Friday, so no one will know Kaberle’s official feelings about returning to Toronto in enemy garb until at least the post-morning-skate media availability. Regardless of what he says, it would be something special if Kaberle decided to shut up all his Leafs-loving critics and get some shots on the goal, and resurrect Boston’s long-dormant power play.
In his defense, Kaberle, who has three assists for Boston, has attempted 12 shots that have been blocked and eight that missed the target in his dozen games in black and gold. But with Toronto, he fired 99 shots on net (three goals) in 58 games for an average of 1.71 shots on net per game. His Boston average is just 0.83 shots per game, to go along with zero goals.
While the Bruins are eager to end their road trip on a positive note and Kaberle might be looking for some measure of revenge against a franchise that never appreciated his skills once Brian Burke took over as general manager, the Leafs obviously have desperation on their side. Like so many of Boston’s recent opponents, the Leafs are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in and are running out of time.
Toronto stands 11th in the Eastern Conference, four points back of eighth place, with some of the teams ahead of them holding either one or two games in hand.
As Leafs sniper Clarke MacArthur told The Star:
“It’s exciting, it’s stressful, it’s a little bit of both. We’ve gone well, we’ve gotten runs where we’ve got within two points and just slip away. We’re trying to make our way back up. This time of year, you need help from other teams as well. A lot of things have to match up. For us, we want to keep winning games and see if we can make it close.”
Toronto knows it can get the better of the Bruins because it proved that last month. And the Leafs know how to take away one of the club’s offensive weapons because the book on Kaberle was written in Toronto. So the Bruins will need to come up with its own game plan to counter the Leafs’ strategies and also get contributions from numerous sources rather than continuing to wait for Kaberle to erupt.