|Claude Julien sticking with Tomas Kaberle||05.23.11 at 12:44 pm ET|
“If you know the game well enough, you would understand that there’s some experience back there,” Julien said when a reporter asked about benching Kaberle. “You’ve got to also think, is that guy coming in a better player than Kaberle?”
In my humble opinion, I would answer “yes” to Julien’s question. Between Kampfer’s skill set/previous success vs. Tampa making him a good fit for this series and Kaberle’s ugly turnovers on which he’s looked indifferent, Kampfer could probably do more with 11:35 of ice time than Kaberle did in Game 4.
Yet Julien is correct in reminding doubters that sticking with a struggling player has worked for the Bruins. Many wanted Michael Ryder out of the lineup in the first round, and now Ryder has been the team’s best winger for the last five games.
“Some people wanted certain people out of the lineup earlier on, and our patience has paid off,” Julien said. “I don’t know why we decide that we should be taking [Kaberle] out of the lineup when there’s other players too that have struggled. I don’t know why we haven’t talked about that. That’s because we had patience. We believed in those guys, and Kaberle last game, that second goal, maybe [lost] the puck, but our system calls for support on that. Our support wasn’t there. According to our system, he’s not the only one to blame.”
Kaberle was certainly to blame for Sean Bergenheim’s game-tying goal in the second period Saturday, as the Lightning forward took the puck from Kaberle behind the Bruins’ net without a fight from No. 12. Kaberle was not to blame for Simon Gagne’s game-winner in the third, but Julien only addressed the fourth goal.
“On the winning goal, he blocks a shot, makes a great play. He’s trying to get off the ice, and we turn the puck over, so we keep playing Kaberle? I think people are a little hard on this guy,” Julien said. “I’m one of those guys that’s going to support him, and one of those guys who’s going to keep him in the lineup, in case you want to know. He’s going to be a good part of our hockey team. We got him because we believe in him, and until last game he played two really good games, so that’s how we see Kaberle.”
There you have it. Kaberle is only worth 11:35 of ice time, but he’s worth believing in. The company line just sounds a bit off.
The Bruins learned the hard way Saturday that they need more than a strong start and a big day from Patrice Bergeron to get their third victory of the Eastern Conference finals. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 4, the Bruins will be back at home Monday to take on the Lightning in Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Take advantage of playing at home/score the first goal. The Bruins don’t want to find themselves a loss away from elimination when the teams head back to Tampa for Game 6, so taking care of business in their own building will be key.
The B’s weren’t able to score the first goal in Games 1 and 2, though they were able to head to Tampa with the series tied at a game apiece. The first goal hasn’t been everything this series, as the team to strike first has gone 2-2 thus far.
– The B’s must get the type of production from David Krejci‘s line that made the second round such a walk in the park. Krejci was a minus-3 with zero shots on goal in Game 4, while Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each had just one shot on goal in the loss.
– The Bruins’ second line probably would be a stinker as well if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Bergeron. If it weren’t for a Brad Marchand interference penalty in the second period, there would be minimal proof that the feisty rookie even played in Game 4. Marchand had no shots on goal for the second time this series. The B’s have lost both games in which the 23-year-old has failed to put a shot on net. Mark Recchi is a minus-4 this series and has just five shots on goal.
– Selective memory would probably serve the B’s best after their Game 4 collapse. Remember that it happened, but don’t think about just how much momentum the come-from-behind win could have given Tampa Bay.
– Not that they will, but the B’s should at least give consideration to playing Steven Kampfer. We said it last week, and Saturday’s soft showing behind the net on a costly turnover to Sean Bergenheim only confirms it: it’s worth seeing what Kampfer can do in place of Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle looked better in Games 2 and 3, but if you’re going to give him between 11 and 12 minutes a game and he still finds a way to make them costly minutes as he did Saturday, you’re better off easing Kampfer back in with an 11-or-12-minute night. Kampfer has as many goals this season against the Lightning (two) as Kaberle has had turnovers that resulted in Tampa goals this series.
FIVE CRAZY STATS
– Kaberle’s 11:35 of ice time in Game 4 isn’t just ridiculously low for someone the team invested so much in, but it’s the lowest total that Kaberle ‘ two injury games aside — has played in his entire career. While with the Maple Leafs, he left the team’s March 2, 2007 game vs. the Devils after being blindsided in the second period by Cam Janssen, and he left a Jan. 6, 2004 game with a shoulder injury in the first period. Back then, injuries were all that could keep Kaberle from playing less than 12 minutes. Now, it’s just poor play.
– That stuff about Michael Ryder turning it on in the playoffs is true. Ryder has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last five games. He never amassed more than five points in any five-game stretch during the regular season, and this five-game stretch ties for Ryder’s second-best as a member of the Bruins. He had nine points over the Bruins’ first five games of the 2009 playoffs.
– Tim Thomas has allowed four goals four times this postseason, and the Bruins are 3-0 thus far in games that directly followed said performances. Thomas allowed one goal in 89 minutes in Game 5 of the first round after allowing four goals two nights earlier. He followed the team’s 5-2 loss in the conference finals opener by allowing five in Game 2, but the B’s came away with the win. It was after that contest that Thomas really bounced back, blanking the Lightning in Game 3.
– Neither the Bruins nor the Lightning have scored a power play goal since Game 2 of the series. This marks the first time this postseason that the Bruins and their opponent have put up a goose-egg on the man advantage in consecutive games.
– Steven Stamkos is a minus-2 this series, and has only had a positive rating in one game this postseason. The lone positive rating came in Game 5 of the quarterfinals when he had two goals, an assist and was a plus-1.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS
– Whichever Lightning goalie starts. Dwayne Roloson has been chased from two of the series’ first four games, and Guy Boucher has yet to reveal whether Roloson will be a go for Game 5. If Boucher makes a change, it will be Mike Smith, who has stopped all 20 shots he’s seen from the B’s in 60:51 this series.
– Simon Gagne: The veteran winger simply slays the Bruins, and he did it to the tune of three points and a plus-4 rating in Game 4.
– Ryder and Tyler Seguin: In the event that Lucic and Horton fail to step it up and Bergeron’s wingers continue to struggle, the B’s will need the magical Ryder/Seguin duo to light it up the way they did in Game 2. Seguin was on the ice for three of the Lightning’s five goals Saturday, but he’s been second to only Ryder this series as far as who the B’s best winger has been.
– Dennis Seidenberg: One last opportunity to point out that the B’s minute-eating defenseman had seven blocked shots in Game 4. He and Kaberle were out there for Gagne’s game-winner.
|Claude Julien still not quite saying Steven Kampfer is ready to play||05.19.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer said earlier in the week that he is “definitely” ready to go if the Bruins need him, but coach Claude Julien still isn’t ready to go that far. Julien reiterated his week-long message that Kampfer, who is coming off a knee injury, is “close.”
“He’s pretty close I think. I just talked to him after practice there. We had a little bit of a chat on the ice and talked about what he’s been through the last little while and how he’s felt and everything else, so I think he’s getting pretty close to that,” Julien said after Thursday’s skate. “If anything, I think pretty soon we’ll be able to say he’s a guy that could jump in if something happened.”
|Steven Kampfer ‘definitely’ ready if needed by Bruins||05.17.11 at 1:15 pm ET|
As Tomas Kaberle continues to struggle, the Bruins could be getting closer to having a viable option (and one who has fared well against the Lightning) to threaten his ice time.
Defenseman Steven Kampfer, who suffered a knee injury late in the regular season while getting some playing time in Providence, told WEEI.com Tuesday that he is “definitely” ready to return to the lineup if need be. Kampfer, 22, has spent extra time out on the ice as he works to get his back into tip-top shape.
“I feel ready to go,” Kampfer said Tuesday. “It’s something that I talked about with the trainers the other day. If something happens, I definitely feel ready to go. It’s those extra couple skates that are definitely going to help.”
In the three games in which the B’s have had to go without one of their six regulars this postseason — Game 2 of the conference quarterfinals for Zdeno Chara and Games 3 and 4 of the semifinals for Adam McQuaid — Shane Hnidy has played, but has done so sparingly.
Coach Claude Julien has said multiple times recently that Kampfer is healthy, but that his conditioning as he returns to skating remains what separates him from being an option if needed. He barely strayed from that line Tuesday, saying Kampfer is “still working on his conditioning, but certainly getting close.”
Kampfer admitted that his conditioning remains a process, but that the extra work he’s put in has gotten to a point where he’d be comfortable returning to the lineup.
“When you don’t skate for a month, it definitely takes a while to get your conditioning back,” Kampfer said. “You can ride the bike, you can do things like that, but skating condition is different than a bike and everything like that. We’ve been doing a little extra work here and there, and a couple more extra skating sessions is definitely going to help.”
While it would seemingly take an injury for Kampfer to make his postseason debut, the idea of him putting a little pressure on Kaberle should be considered out of the question. Kaberle was awful in Game 1, and throughout the playoffs has been a disappointment for the Bruins. A good puck-moving defenseman is an asset against a team like the Lightning, but the only notable moving of a puck by Kaberle in Game 1 came on his turnover behind his own net to lead to a goal, and his confusing slap shot into the corner on the power play in the second period.
If Kaberle keeps putting up stinkers for 15-plus minutes a night, maybe it would be worth it to give the kid a chance. Call it the defensive version of the Tyler Seguin/Michael Ryder lineup spot argument, but Kampfer has performed at his best against Tampa, scoring two of his five goals this season against the Lightning. His speed and passing ability matches up well against a team that shows different looks in the neutral zone as well.
“It definitely fits my style when you play a team that I guess plays a 1-3-1,” Kampfer said of Guy Boucher‘s neutral zone forecheck. “You move your feet and you can skate through it, but that’s something our whole team can do. Everyone here is quick and everyone can make passes. It’s something that we’ve got to [do] tonight and the rest of the series.”
Though Kampfer had goals against the Lightning on Dec. 28 (his first career tally) and March 3, he said he doesn’t look at the Tampa matchup and think of how he can change the series. As he waits for his time, he has confidence in the guys out there.
“Anyone can make a difference in this series,” he said. “It’s just how you play and how you take the game plan to them. It’s something that we talked about this morning, is how our team’s going to play. We have our system that we’re going to stick to. I think everyone has had success against this team, and I think everyone here knows how to play.”
When Kampfer actually returns to game action for the Bruins remains unknown. If it’s this series, next series or next season, he’ll be ready to continue working off a rookie campaign that had its ups (the Tampa games, nine games of 20 minutes or more in 38 contests) and the downs (the disastrous ending to the March 17 game in which a misplay and a bad penalty cost the team the game and cost him his spot in the lineup) of his rookie campaign.
If Kaberle continues to struggle though, maybe it’s worth rolling the dice. Yes, Kaberle was a costly acquisition, but the Bruin showed in Games 3 and 4 of the second round that they can win without putting him out there. It’s crazy to think, but it’s not out of the question. A combination of more duds from Kaberle and a ready-to-go Kampfer could put a bit more pressure on the 33-year-old, if it isn’t there already.
|Chris Kelly moves up as Bruins hold first practice in anticipation of Lightning||05.09.11 at 11:05 am ET|
WILMINGTON — After being the weekend off, the Bruins returned to practice Monday for their first skate in anticipation of their Eastern Conference finals meeting with the Lightning. Given that they’ll be without Patrice Bergeron (concussion), the color-coded lines had a different look at Ristuccia Arena. Chris Kelly is on the second line, while Tyler Seguin is wearing gray to signify the third line. The lines are as follows:
Trent Whitfield, Jamie Arniel and Jordan Caron were donning green jerseys. Adam McQuaid was on the ice, though Steven Kampfer was not. Check back for more following practice.
|Adam McQuaid day-to-day with sprained neck||05.03.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
Defenseman Adam McQuaid is day-to-day with a sprained neck, Claude Julien said Tuesday. McQuaid suffered the injury when he crashed face-first into the boards after missing a check on the Flyers’ Mike Richards in the first period of Monday night’s Game 2 victory in Philadelphia.
McQuaid was taken to an area hospital, but he traveled back to Boston with the team after the game. Julien said all the X-rays on McQuaid have come back negative.
If McQuaid can’t go for Wednesday night’s Game 3, Shane Hnidy would likely be his replacement. Steven Kampfer skated Tuesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury back in April, but Julien said he is “still going to be a while.”
|Steven Kampfer out at least two weeks with knee injury||04.11.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in Monday’s conference call that rookie defenseman Steven Kampfer will be out for at least two weeks after sustaining a knee injury while playing for Providence on Saturday. Kampfer left the contest vs. Springfield after trying to return to the ice for another shift.
“Steven injured his knee and is going to be evaluated in the next couple of days,” Chiarelli said. “My guess is he’ll be gone for at least two weeks.”
Kampfer played in 38 games for Boston this season, but figured to be a healthy scratch in the playoffs given that he played just once (March 31) following a rough game in Nashville in which a defensive lapse and a penalty in overtime played a major role in the Predators’ come-from-behind win over the B’s. He was sent to Providence on April 6 to get more game action.
With Kampfer out for at least the first round of the playoffs, Shane Hnidy is clearly the first defenseman the B’s would go to in case of injury, though Chiarelli stressed that the B’s have options should they suffer more injuries on the blue line.
“We’ve got depth beyond that in [Matt] Bartkowski, [Andrew] Bodnarchuk and [Colby] Cohen. We’ve got some players that can fill in,” Chiarelli said. “Obviously, it’s a blow to our depth, but from what I’m told, it’s not that bad. I can’t give you an exact time frame, but I now it’s at least two weeks.”
Kampfer, 22, totaled five goals and five assists for 10 points with Boston in the regular season.
On the subject of depth, Chiarelli noted that goaltender Anton Khudobin will be among 10 or so Black Aces the B’s will be able to use for depth purposes. Zach Hamill is also in that group.