March 3, 2011

Kaberle excited to make his Garden debut

by Kirk Luedeke

Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins fans will get their first live glimpse of Tomas Kaberle in the black and gold at TD Garden tonight.

The veteran defenseman, who turned 33 Wednesday, was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs Feb. 18 while the B's were in the midst of their six-game road trip (going 5-0 with Kaberle in the lineup, a perfect 6-0 overall).

"You're just trying to focus on every single game," Kaberle said after the morning skate when asked about the sizeable win streak. "It's nice to get six games on the road and obviously, it's another big one at home right now."

Kaberle has one assist in the five Boston wins, but has played better for his new team than the stats line would indicate. He's been involved in the play at both ends of the ice and has minimized mistakes while boosting Boston's skill level on the back line. The soft touch on his passes has been on display in the early going, helping kickstart the team's speed coming across their own blue line and through the neutral zone.

"I feel good, obviously; it's a great team," he said. "Every line's got something on the ice and I know everyone can score. It's nice to see that and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable."

Although his old team has gone on an impressive run of late, Kaberle is thrilled to be on the Eastern Conference's second place club with a chance to make a deep postseason run.

"It's nice," he said of his move from the tenth place Leafs to second place Bruins. "My first six years I played in the playoffs every year and the last five I wasn't there. It's always tough to answer the questions of the media: 'Why not?' So hopefully, we'll have a good rest of the season and and prepare for the playoffs."

For his part, Kaberle is pleased with what he's seen from his new lineup top to bottom.

"We're really comfortable with our goalies, 'D' and forwards," he said. "All the four lines can score goals and I thought we've been playing good defense, especially lately on the road. It's what wins you the Stanley Cup."

Kaberle thus far has been the kind of player as advertised when the Bruins gave up some significant pieces of the future to acquire him. His contributions to the team's overall puck possession while holdinig the man advantage have been noticeable, even if the power play production has yet to come.

He and his mates will have a good, honest test tonight against the Lightning, who went 6-3-2 in the month of February, earning just two points fewer than Boston's 16. The clubs are in a dead heat for second place in the conference and with the playoff race tightening, every point is at a premium.

"They're really skilled," Kaberle said of his next opponent. "They got some dangerous guys up front. They've been showing they can score four, five, six goals every game. But we have to prepare for it just like another game."