a fighting chance
Pictured above, Tomas Kaberle donning a Bruins sweater for the first time, February 18th, 2011, in Ottawa, a day many thought would never come.
I refrained from writing about the Bruins’ whirl-wind series of trades in mid-February for some time—not the least of which was work and travel constraints—but also because I wanted to wait and see how things panned out. I was in a state of shock when word of the Bruins’ initial trade to clear cap space in the form of shipping out Stuart and Wheeler to Atlanta came (though, those were the top two players on the hook for being traded). And then, when it became clear Kaberle would once and for all be departing the Leafs for Boston, well, the feeling was one of elation as a Bruins fan. And one of a single thought: no excuses for the Bruins now.
They have their puck-moving defenseman. They have blossoming fire-power in the form of Horton, Marchand and Lucic. Save for the possibility of injury and slumping (which is, well, always a possibility with the Bruins), they are on track for a stellar last month of the season and a deep, deep playoff run. Images of the Stanley Cup are already being beckoned by some, but I won’t pursue that line of thinking too much.
The fact of the matter is that the Bruins will need to gel. Their western road-swing did just that to a great extent—help mold and meld the team, whose newest asserts, Kelly, Peverley and Kaberle, seem to be off to a solid start. Moreover, their performance on the power-play will need to improve, and this is part of the gelling. Furthermore, while the weak links of the pack have either been strengthened or traded, Tyler Seguin still seems uneasy on the ice and Shawn Thornton could stand to return to his normally boisterous self. Their situations are completely different, and yet Thornton and Seguin find themselves on the same line right now. That in itself is a red-flag, but, there is nowhere Seguin to go and Thornton is a steadfast fourth-liner. In any case, Daniel Paille is poised to remain a healthy scratch in the games, and he is the only spare part at this point. There really don’t seem to be any playoff-ready call-ups in Providence, despite the promise Hamill and others have demonstrated. Ference remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury and he will hopefully be in playing form soon. The team as it is now is the team that will move forward, and possibly, toward the Stanley Cup.
The sacrifices made to acquire Kaberle were justified. He is the best in his class and he is worthy of the Bruins’ blue-line. His competitive hunger after years of languishing in Toronto may be in question, but his skill cannot be. With a challenging and dynamic (yes, I used those two words consciously) team like the Bruins, truly, he should develop further than he was ever able to with the Maple Leafs.
With the trade deadline come and gone, the time is now for the Bruins. It seems within reach.