Whenever you have five NHL Hall of Famers in the building, it’s always a good time when you respond. Having said that, the Bruins honored a lifelong Bruin tonight. Milt Schmidt signed his first professional contract seventy five years ago and with the exception on World War II – he’s never left Boston. Bruin TV color man, Andy Brickley, co-hosted the ceremony along with President Cam Neely. Cam mentioned how he will never forget raising his #8 to the rafters and he wanted Milt to have his own memory of his number going up. With that he introduced Terry (#24), Johnny (#9), Ray (#77) and Bobby (#4) to join the entire Schmidt family on Garden ice. So with his family and some Bruin royalty on the ice, Schmidt re-raised his number 15 up to where it belongs. Schmidt also recieved two miniature replica Stanley Cups for the championships the Bruins won when he was a player in 1939 & 1941. The Leafs came out late in the ceremony and full marks to Ron Wilson’s guys for the stick taps from their bench for Schmidt. A classy move by Wilson as he and his family understand NHL history as they have lived it themselves.
As for the game, once again the Bruins came out sluggish only to be saved by Tim Thomas. A couple early penalties helped the Leafs take the momentum but the Bruin penalty killers did their jobs. With the Bruins turning the tide, they started to make some breaks of their own by grabbing a couple of power plays themselves. On the second power play of the period, the B’s cashed in with forty one seconds left. Milan Lucic rushed the puck up the left wing into the Leaf zone. After going behind the net and working the right wing boards, the puck was at the blue line on Zdeno Chara’s tape. He passed it to Patrice Bergeron who one timed a slapshot off the iron and into the net. The goal was Bergeron’s 100th career NHL goal.
I thought the Bruins continued to control play well into the second period. They outshot the Leafs 10-4 in the middle frame and doubled their lead. They also shut down the Leaf forecheck that was going so well in the first period. The B’s doubled the lead when Tyler Seguin’s blast from the circle beat Gustavsson to the short side. He made a great play on the goal. Michael Ryder brought the puck out from behind the net and tried to hit Seguin in the slot but a Leaf defender tipped the puck out to the blue line to Dennis Seidenberg. After Seguin realized he wasn’t getting the puck, he turned to the open spot and was facing the puck so once the pass came, he was ready and quickly got the shot on target and in. With the goal, the rowdy “Kessel-hating mob” started chanting “Thank you Kessel – clap – clap – clap, clap, clap”. When asked about the crowd tonight, he smiled and said, “I was really trying not to laugh, but it just shows what supportive fans we have in Boston and it was pretty funny to a lot of us.”
Nathan Horton is really enjoying his early stsint here as a Bruin. He was talking about the crowd really giving it to Kessel, “Oh, it’s awesome. This is a… it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun playing right in front of our fans. They are so passionate and they love the game, and they understand the game so much. It’s a great feeling when you are playing for them.”
From the other room, Phil Kessel was subdued but even when I spoke to him during the 2008/09 season, he was never really boisterous or outgoing. When asked about his performance in Boston and the crowd’s verbal thank you card he replied, “I could care less to tell you the truth. It doesn’t matter to me one bit.”
The Bruin special teams were very good again tonight. A perfect penalty kill (5/5) and now they are 24/26 (92.3%) for the young season. The power play was 1/3 and are 6/28 (21.4%) for the year.
Tim Thomas…what more can I say about him? He’s been unreal so far and like every other time I’ve written, he’s not giving up rebounds at all. When the puck hits him, there’s this dead thud when the puck hits him and sticks. Not since Cecil “Tiny” Thompson in 1937/38 has a Bruin goalie won his first five starts.
Adam MacQuiad played in his first game tonight with Johnny Boychuk out with a broken arm. “We will head to Ottawa and start getting ready for them. It is a division game and those games are huge. We have a few games in hand and we want to make sure they are wins. 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. Every win especially against a division opponent is huge.”
Next up, as Adam mentioned, the Ottawa Senators on the road this Saturday night.
Definitely see Mike Di Petrillo’s blue and white take on tonight’s game.
As always…Go B’s!
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Written by Jim Mulligan