WILMINGTON, Mass. — You wouldn’t have to dig as deep into the archives to find video footage of Tomas Kaberle in the playoffs as you would to find the Bruins in the conference finals, but you would have to search to the pre-lockout portion of NHL history.
Kaberle, who before his trade to Boston in February was relegated to a life with the lackluster Leafs of Toronto, hasn’t skated in a postseason game since 2004. His career playoff numbers are pretty solid for a defenseman — 28 points in 77. And from what he can remember, he performed pretty well in the NHL’s second season.
“I think so. Obviously, it’s been a while, so I would have to look back at some tape,” he said with a chuckle after practice at Ristuccia Arena today. “Obviously you want to play your best. That’s what you prepare your whole season for is when playoffs start. It’s not going to be anything pretty out there. It’s going to be just basic hockey, fast, and grinding hockey and go to the net. And it could be 1-0 hockey games. You won’t see some pretty plays out there, that’s for sure.”
Pretty plays are Kaberle’s stock and trade, but he’s right — against Montreal in the conference quarterfinal series that starts Thursday night, things might not be as aesthetically pleasing as a regular-season game. That’s why the Bruins are going to need a boost from their power play in the playoffs even more than the regular season.
Kaberle was imported to turn things around with Boston’s man-advantage, but that 180 switch never materialized. Down the stretch, Boston was 1-for-17 over its last seven games on the power play. Kaberle’s encouraged enough, though, to believe goals are on their way.
“I thought we moved the puck well enough to score some goals,” said Kaberle, who posted 1-8-9 totals in 24 games in black and gold. “Obviously, not every time it’s going to happen. But you have to keep pushing, get a lot of traffic, rebounds. Eventually goals are going to happen.”
Kaberle’s career numbers against the Canadiens are even more impressive than his playoff stats. In 61 games against the Habs, he has registered 48 points (14 goals). While he couldn’t come up with a definitive answer for his Canadiens-killing success, Kaberle did point out that Toronto’s animosity toward Montreal — maybe second only to Boston’s — could’ve contributed to his point-producing prowess.
“Maybe the rivalry gives you even an extra boost and so it gets you more [points]. I don’t know,” said Kaberle.
Kaberle admitted to being a little nervous for his postseason return. But he also said that a player wants some of that excitement in his gut to help him be prepared when the puck drops. Then after a few shifts, it’s just business as usual. That feeling in his stomach is the reason he approved a trade from the Leafs and agreed to go to Boston.
“Obviously, you play hockey to make it to the playoffs first, and then hopefully [go] all way,” he said. “So it’s what everybody plays hockey for and this is a good chance. I think we’ve got a really good team and we just have to prove it on the ice.”