-- There's a good chance Carolina Hurricanes
defenseman Frantisek Kaberle
could be making his initial appearance in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Boston Bruins
in the seventh and deciding game on Thursday at TD Banknorth Garden (8 pm ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS).
And while Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice
wouldn't reveal his game-time roster or which players would even be in or out of his lineup -- what a surprise -- Kaberle seemed confident he would receive some game action for the first time since Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils
in the conference quarterfinal round.
"We'll see," declared Maurice when questioned about Kaberle's status for Game 7.
Kaberle, a healthy scratch for 10 playoff games, has played in just three postseason games this spring and has registered four shots. There were varying opinions throughout the media workroom at the arena that Anton Babchuk
, who has just one assist and 21 shots in 12 playoff games, would be the odd-man out if, indeed, Kaberle was inserted into the lineup.
Kaberle, the 35-year-old Czech who is in his fourth season with the Hurricanes, told NHL.com that he would likely be paired with Niclas Wallin
along the blue line if he did receive an opportunity.
"Of course it's exciting; I've been practicing for a long time now so it'll be good to get another shot and jump in," Kaberle told NHL.com. "I think the tempo of the game will be the hardest part from the start, but after those first few shifts and a couple of passes, I think I'll be OK."
In 30 games during the 2008-09 regular season, Kaberle had one goal and eight points. He played a role in Carolina's Stanley Cup run in 2006, connecting for four goals, including a game-winner, and 13 points in 25 games.
"Obviously, I'm pretty good at making that first pass from our zone, so hopefully I'll be able to add that element to help the team," Kaberle said.
He's looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds Game 7.
"It seems like we play better under pressure whether it's at the beginning or the end of a season," Kaberle said. "You always like playing that way toward the end of the season. It seems like we get up for these games when there's pressure involved, I don't know why but that's just the way it is."
Carolina center Eric Staal
agreed with Kaberle.
"I think we are a little comfortable in these Game 7s; we know what to expect," Staal said. "It's a long day though leading up to this game since it's an 8 o'clock start. You're excited the whole day, anticipated the start of the game. A good start is key for us, especially in their building. We would like to quiet the fans and gain a little momentum early. The biggest thing we need to do is play a full 60 minutes, something we haven't done in the last two games."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com