MONTREAL – When the power play finds success, so does the rest of the team.
With the Canadiens struggling to score with the man advantage since the beginning of the season, general-manager Pierre Gauthier set out to acquire a quarterback that could help the Habs’ power play get back to their scoring ways. The deal that ultimately developed was a trade that sent 37-year-old veteran, Jaroslav Spacek to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Tomas Kaberle.
“We believe that we have a good team that’s been doing good work in a number of areas. We have good goaltending, we’ve been doing excellent work on the penalty kill and at 5-on-5. We’re drawing more penalties than we were in past seasons thanks to the way our forwards have been attacking the net,” explained Gauthier, while also thanking Spacek for his more than two seasons of service on the Canadiens’ blueline. “Right now, we need to be much better on the power play. With the absence of Mr. Markov, Mr. Kaberle will be able to help this team. We also hope that when Mr. Markov eventually returns, the two players can both contribute to us having an excellent power play.”
Currently sitting 28th overall in the NHL in that category with a power play success rate of 11.4% in 2011-12, the Habs add a player who needs no introduction when it comes to setting up goals with the man advantage.
Of the 538 points that the 33-year-old defenseman has recorded since his first strides in the NHL as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998-99, 270 of them have come on the power play. This would include a season of 51 power play points in 2005-06 with Toronto.
“We’ve been looking at our options for a few weeks now,” continued Gauthier. “He may have had a slow start to the season, like the rest of the team in Carolina, but Mr. Kaberle has played very well over the course of his last few games, scoring four points in his last two games alone. It would seem his season has gotten back on the right track.”
This season, Kaberle can count assists on nine of his teammates’ goals, with four of them scored with the man advantage.
“The most important thing for us was to find someone to contribute and act as a quarterback on our power play,” added Gauthier. “Mr. Kaberle is extremely competent in that area.
“When the power play is not working well, it can even affect play at 5-on-5,” finished the Habs GM. “It’s brings down team morale. We need to play well in all areas. This was something that needed to be addressed, and that’s what we did.”
Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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