BOSTON– The Bruins had it all tonight–the home ice advantage, the Phil Kessel debacle, Tim Thomas, and, well, Milt Schmidt.
In a night dedicated to the Bruins legend, the Black and Gold seemed to have an extra boost in their stride and punch in their hits as they skated their way to a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.”
While Schmidt was the obvious focus for the entire game, Kessel did slip in the minds of the Garden crowd a little bit–or perhaps more appropriately, they slipped into his mind.
Midway through the second period, Tyler Seguin, the second overall draft pick that was traded to the Bruins for Kessel, netted his second goal of the season, and the crowd immediately responded with the loudest and most in sync chant of “Thank you, Kessel.”
While Kessel “couldn’t care less,” Seguin got a taste of what the fans are like here in Boston.
“I was really trying not to laugh,” Seguin said. “But it just shows what supportive fans we have in Boston and it was pretty funny to a lot of us.”
Not only did that goal help his team take another win, but it helped solidify his spot on the team this year. Moments after asking him about his status in the locker room, Bruins head coach Claude Julien reported that Seguin would indeed remain on the Bruins for the rest of the year, instead of being shipped to Juniors as was rumored previously.
“Peter [Chiarelli] asked me to advise [Tyler] Seguin, he will be staying with us,” Julien said. “So for people that were asking me the question on Tyler, I was just told before coming in here that he’s here to stay this year.”
And the night couldn’t have been sweeter for Thomas who finished the hat trick with his own victory–now giving him the longest win streak from a Boston goaltender to open the season since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games back in 1937. Thomas also earned his second shutout of his season, earning him an incredible 0.60 GAA and .980 save percentage.
“I feel obviously that I’m playing good,” Thomas said. “The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean, [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”
One save in particular came when Kessel was planted back door, and a goal was looming in a rebound. However, a rebound never came, nor did a point from Kessel. In fact, in the seven games Kessel has played against his former team, he has only registered one point and tonight only six shots.
“Well I think, you know, you got to remember, we’ve done a pretty good job against a guy like [Alexander] Ovechkin,” Julien said. “We obviously respect those guys and feel that if you give one of those guys some space, he’s going to do some damage. You got to take away his time and space. We play him hard and we play him smart.”
The Bruins improved to 5-2-0 and will fly to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Saturday.
“You look at how stretches at the end of each years went, each year there have been teams who had to win their last game to get into the playoffs,” Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid said. “Every win especially against a division opponent is huge.”