Time is Running Out
BOSTON--No one expected the second coming of Ray Bourque when the Bruins made a deal with the Leafs to acquire Tomas Kaberle.
Maybe they could have hoped for the boffo returns Detroit got when they traded for Larry Murphy from the Leafs and won a Cup with him.
But at the very least, you'd have to believe GM Peter Chiarelli et al believed they'd get a reasonable facsimile of Kaberle's big brother.
Remember Frantisek, long gone now to the Czech league? In 2006, he scored four goals in the playoffs, along with nine assists, as part of the blueline corps of the Carolina Hurricanes. The last of those goals came in the second period of Game 7 of the final against Edmonton and turned out to be the game and Cup-winning score.
By comparison, poor Tomas has yet to put on in the net in 20 games of these 2011 playoffs and time is running out on both him and the Bruins heading into tonight's critical Game 3 match. Lose this one, Boston, and other than a few days worth of stories about coming back from 3-0 deficits and recaps of the '42 Leafs and '10 Philadelphia Flyers, this baby will be over.
The Leafs are already feeling good about netting prospect Joe Colborne, Boston's first round pick this month and a second rounder next year (kicked in when Boston made the Cup final) for Kaberle. The Bruins, by contrast, seem to be dwindling in their affections for the veteran defenceman, using him for 14:12 in Game 1 against Vancouver then 12:25 in Game 2.
Symbolic of Boston's lack of trust in Kaberle is that when Mark Recchi tipped a Zdeno Chara point shot past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo in Game 2 to give the Bruins an actual power play goal, only their second on the road in the post-season, Kaberle wasn't even on the ice.
Instead, Chara was at the left point and Michael Ryder was on the right, with Claude Julien electing to go with four forwards, a move that paid off.
The idea when Kaberle was added that he would feed those soft, feathery cross-ice passes for Chara to one-time, just as Kaberle once did for Bryan McCabe. That just hasn't developed, and five-on-five Kaberle has really struggled and is now part of Boston's third defensive pair.
It's not as bad as what Vancouver is getting from its $4.2 milliion defenceman Keith Ballard, who doesn't even play. But it's sure not what the Bruins thought they were getting.
Still, it's not over for the ex-Leaf. There's still time to play hero, to demonstrate he really can be a difference maker the post-season after spending all those springs on the sidelines while with the Leafs. Tonight would be a good time to start.