WILMINGTON, Mass. — Tomas Kaberle hasn't been on hand for practice the last two days with the Bruins while dealing with some visa issues in Canada, but his presence certainly has been felt at Ristuccia Arena.
Kaberle was acquired Friday from Toronto and made his Bruins debut that night in Ottawa. He didn't have a point in 19:34 of ice time, but he left an impression with his new teammates.
"He's so composed on the blue line," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "He sees the ice very well. He sees the open guy and he creates 2-on-1's for the other guys. He opens up room and lanes. He's very calm and collected and he lays nice flat passes. He's a good puck-mover, obviously."
Seidenberg was paired with Kaberle on Friday, a combination that Bruins coach Claude Julien will likely stick with for a while when Kaberle rejoins the team Tuesday in Calgary.
"I liked the way those two played together," Julien said. "They were a good duo. I thought they read off each other well. Plus you get two guys with experience, so that's certainly going to give you some stability back there."
Seidenberg won't complain if he stays paired with Kaberle.
"It's definitely nicer to have him on the team than playing against him," Seidenberg said. "Offensively, he's very creative and he just creates chances for the team. That's nice to have."
There is an adjustment period though, as Kaberle is always thinking a step ahead, which can catch his teammates by surprise at times.
"He moves the puck so quickly," Julien said. "He knows where it's going before it's on his stick. He caught guys off guard sometimes not being ready, but I think now that they know what he's all about they're hopefully going to get better at that."
Other than being ready, Kaberle's teammates don't have to do much else with his passes.
"When he passes the puck for one-timers, the puck is completely flat," goalie Tim Thomas said. "Some guys just have that knack. I was thinking about it at the All-Star Game, [Nicklas] Lidstrom made this breakaway pass to [Matt] Duchene at the far blue line. The best passers, when they make those passes, it just sticks on the other guy's stick, even without them trying.
"[Kaberle] has something similar to that when he lays that puck over for the one-timer, it's completely flat. [With other players] the guy has no idea where it's going and a lot of times they won't even take the shot. They'll try to stop it and then shoot it."
Kaberle didn't have a point on Friday, but the Bruins did have much better movement on the man advantage and scored once on the power play. Seidenberg had that goal from Nathan Horton and David Krejci, and Kaberle was on the ice and helped set the play in motion.
"When you have him on your side and you see what he does, like on that first power play, he moved the puck so well and so quickly that boom, first thing you know we were in the end zone," Julien said. "That's what we talk about when we have quarterbacks, guys that can see the play right away and as soon as the puck is on their stick they know where it's going."
Kaberle is tied for seventh among defensemen in the league this year with 38 points and is second with 22 power-play assists. But Julien expects his new blueliner to excel at preventing goals as well.
"The other part too that maybe people underestimate him, but I thought defensively he was pretty good for us that night," Julien said. "He defended well. He's got a good stick, he's got good positioning and I think he's going to be a lot better defensively than people give him credit for."
Thomas had a good view from the bench while Tuukka Rask earned his second win in as many nights on Friday, and came away impressed with Kaberle's play in all aspects of the game.
"He does a really good job of keeping the puck in at the blue line," Thomas said. "You saw that in the last game against Ottawa. A lot of the best guys on the power play are like that. And he has composure, especially in our zone. He's not going to get rattled no matter what. He's got the experience. He can take up some valuable minutes to take some of the pressure off a couple of our other D that have been getting a lot of ice time this year."
Thomas also thinks Kaberle will have plenty of incentive to perform well down the stretch, as he'll have a chance to play in the playoffs for the first time since before the lockout.
"I think he'll be a very motivated player, too," Thomas said. "He hasn't been in a playoff in a couple years in Toronto, so that will probably bring some extra motivation. I think you'll see a lot out of him this year."
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