Ben Eager had front row seats to the real show, while Ryan Kesler knows that the sunny beaches of California can do much better than this.

So this Kaberle guy still sucks, but he’s beginning to show signs of life

Tomas Kaberle’s tally of total awfulness is now at 13 points over his 38 games in Boston, five of which have come in the playoffs. So I think we can all agree with Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, who writes that there’s nowhere to go but up for the prized deadline acquisition.

Conroy observes that although it may not be showing up on the scoresheet consistently, the Bruins’ defenceman looks to be turning the corner. Claude Julien thinks so too…

“I think the last two games he’s been a better player. He’s passing, he’s more poised, he’s a little bit more aggressive, and he’s not sitting on his heels, and I think that’s made a big difference in his game. “We say it almost every day when we talk about players, and that it’s about confidence. That word confidence plays big, and whether he feels it from others or plays with it, it makes a big difference in the player’s reaction.”

Do not break the big man

Zdeno Chara has been receiving some massive minutes this series, seeing the ice for 28:27 in Game 2. In his keys to Game 3 ESPN’s James Murphy writes that although the big man is a fitness freak and certainly has the endurance to take the pounding Julien has thrown his way, scaling back Chara’s minutes will keep the team’s biggest horse fresh.

From barbarian to valued contributor

Steve Downie has 10 points over Tampa Bay’s 13 playoff games, providing steady offence on the third line along with linemates Dominic Moore and Sean Bergenheim. But it wasn’t too long ago that Downie was a rebel in Philadelphia, and it didn’t appear that he had any cause at all.

St. Louis keeps Tampa’s team of dentists busy

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a team of dentists at their disposal for every home game. That’s not surprising, as every NHL team has at least one dentist. But what is surprising is that over the 95 games and counting of Tampa Bay’s season, Lightning players have only lost 15 teeth.

That’s just one of the many nuggets that Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times learned when he talked to the men in the trenches, Tampa Bay’s dental team that consists of three dentists and two oral surgeons who rotate being on-call. It’s always intriguing to read about the many people behind the scenes who don’t get enough credit for pushing an NHL team through the rigors of a long season, and some of the stories told to DeGregory are predictably gruesome. Like, say, these ones…

• When a high stick broke off Nate Thompson’s front tooth, the trainer found it on the ice. Sometimes, if you wash a tooth right away you can pop it back in. But Thompson’s split at the root. So Rivera said, “I had to just take out what was left.”

• Of all the hockey horror, team dentists agreed, Craig MacDonald’s was the worst. On Dec. 20, 2007, a puck smashed into MacDonald’s face, fracturing nine teeth, only three of which could be salvaged. He also required 25–30 stitches to close a cut in his tongue and an additional 50 inside his lip and gums. MacDonald underwent three root canal surgeries the next morning.

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