Earlier in the season, it was nothing more than a curiosity. But now, with the halfway point of the season almost here, Tomas Kaberle remains positioned to take a run at a bit of Maple Leafs’ history.
No Leaf defenceman has ever topped the team in scoring at season’s end. Heading into Game 38 on Long Island tonight, however, Kaberle not only leads Toronto, he is widening the gap.
Kaberle has 33 points. Matt Stajan is next with 28 followed by Niklas Hagman and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who have 25 points each.
Kaberle said leading the team in points is not something that concerns him.
“I’m not looking at it that way. Obviously, points are good but it has a lot to do with team effort. I’ve got a lot of help from teammates,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter who is leading the scoring, we just want to be in a playoff position. We’ve been doing a lot better job lately so we have to keep it up and get into eighth spot. Stats are something you look at at the end of the season.”
Still, Kaberle is quietly putting together a remarkable offensive season.
The 31-year-old is on track for 73 points, which would better his career high of 67, attained in 2005-06. And with Kaberle a mainstay on the Toronto power play, where he has 17 points, it seems unlikely his pace will slow. Kaberle is also tied for the lead in points among NHL defenceman with Washington’s Mike Green.
Mike Komisarek is not surprised by his frequent partner’s success. When he was with Montreal, Komisarek said the Canadians would game plan around slowing Kaberle and he has come to appreciate his skill even more as a teammate.
“He just sees how things happen out there differently than everyone else,” said Komisarek.
“His decision making under pressure is fantastic. He’s unbelievable. On the power play, he’s finding seams, he’s finding holes. He gets that puck and it seems like he freezes all four penalty killers and it opens up a door for someone else on the ice.”
Tomas Kaberle’s current pace would get him close to Toronto’s team record for points by a defenceman. Ian Turnbull had 79 and Borje Salming had 78 during the 1976-77 season.
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