First off, I owe a beer to the guy who started the “Thank-you Kes-sel” chant last night. Fanfuckingtastic. From the town that brought you “Daaaaaarrrrryyyyllllll”, among other memorable chestnuts, we got a spontaneously clever-yet-simple chant that caught on like a mofo after the here-to-stay Tyler Seguin lasered the Bruins’ insurance goal halfway through the 2-0 win. But the constantly improving 18-year-old and his new fans’ appreciation for Kessel’s jackpot hunting wasn’t the story. Instead it was the magma-hot Tim Thomas stealing the show yet again.
Tank’s fifth win in five tries gives him the best start by a Bs goalie since ’37-‘38 (when Tiny Thompson began the year 6-0-0) and provided quite the bridge to the past on a night in which Thompson’s teammate Milt Schmidt was honored in a touching pre-game ceremony. Thomas made 20 saves in his second shutout, with his best virtually a blind, reach-behind-your-back save about 10 minutes into the first, to lower his GAA to a shrinky-dink 0.60 and put his save percentage at an otherworldly .981. NHL Player of the Month for October has to be a sure thing right now. Rather than the butterfly style seen pretty much across the league, Thomas looked more like a cocoon as he vacuumed puck after puck and gave few second chances. He was once again confidently aggressive as he continues to quite emphatically mark his return to goaltending prominence.
Patty Bergeron’s first of the year and 100th of his career, a power play bullet from the left circle that beat Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson over his left shoulder, staked the Bs to a 1-0 lead with 41 seconds left in the first. Seguin’s second of the year doubled the lead after he converted a nice Dennis Seidenberg pass in breath-taking fashion.
His goal reminded me of a python strike—a quick little gathering of the puck, like a snake pulling itself into a coil, before a lethal, lightning-like ‘BANG’ that seemingly went through Gustavsson and had Bruins fans’ eyes bugging out, as well as carrying a pretty high “Holy shit!” factor. It might be the most impressive thing I’ve seen him do so far because of how so much promise is shown in such a brief amount of time. With a release like that and an increase in shots, 20 goals are certainly within reach for the kid.
In addition to providing a little breathing room, the goal was the impetus for the serenade heard across North America, the latest in a long line of Boston crowd wiseassery renowned for its sharp wit and skillfully placed needling. Of course, we’re not even close to finished thanking Getting My Phil yet and this isn’t some Kessel vs. Seguin thing anyways. We still need to see how Jared Knight pans out, as well next year’s first rounder that the Bs hold. So I guess it’s more like a handicapped match.
Thomas easily turned aside TO’s eight third period shots for the blanking (which could’ve been his third if not his rough puckhandling gaffe against the Caps). It was yet another great game to take in. Great pace, tons of hitting, watching the hottest guy in the league do his thing, seeing the kid’s release match the hype, yet another revved up crowd, and a decent scrap. Nate Horton took on Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in the second right off a faceoff in which the combatants doffed their buckets, a subtle little thing that always gets the crowd fired up. Horton was given a 10 minute misconduct for throwing punches while both guys were down. But bewildered coach Claude Julien, as well as the rest of the building, wondered why Phaneuf didn’t get the same punishment for the same offense. But that was just keeping with what was not a particularly well-reffed game, as the officials missed several obvious infractions, perhaps none as blatant as Seguin getting hooked on a breakaway that should have given him his first NHL penalty shot. The Bs go for their sixth win in eight games when they take on the so-so Senators tomorrow night in Canada’s capital.
A few more buds for your egg-and-shaving-cream stained Halloween bowl…
*Brad Marchand was whistled for ‘throwing stick’ in the first period, a call he says he’d never seen and was unaware it was even a rule/penalty. Even Julien was caught off guard by the call and tried to decipher the NHL rulebook for clarification but he felt the wording about the call contradicted itself.
*If somebody could please explain the logic of the ’18 year old’ rule, please share it with me. To nobody’s surprise, Seguin will be the next young professional in the city to overpay for 1200 square feet, as the Bruins elected to keep him for the season rather than send him back to juniors. But because he’s just 18, he can’t be sent to the AHL—the typical career step after juniors but before the show that several NHLers take on their way up. Don’t get me wrong, the kid deserves to be here and is getting better each game (he’s certainly way ahead of Joe Thornton, who may or may not have brought his fucking toys with him to Boston for his rookie season). Sending Seguin back to Plymouth would help only Plymouth and not his development. But should he hit the proverbial wall and peter out as the winter settles in (and I don’t see that happening to a worrisome extent), the Bruins are “stuck” with him so to speak. Until/unless it’s pointed out to me otherwise, I’ll consider it a shithead rule. It’s creates an extreme ultimatum (best league in the world vs. teenaged Canuck league) when what may be the best option—the ‘A’— is the only one not available. Why would you make rules that impede a young player’s development after he’s topped out at one level but not quite ready for prime time? Because you’re the NHL, that’s why.
*It’s often said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But it might be time to teach the Globe’s Bob Ryan one: you absolutely do not walk on the enlarged spoked-B in the center of the Bruins locker room, an egregious offense in locker rooms league wide. Keeping with the canine theme, it’s the equivalent of lifting your leg and pissing on a hydrant. I don’t know if I’m more shocked he did it or that he wasn’t immediately barked at like most first-time offenders. I guess that’s what happens when they put the hoops guy on pucks duty. Maybe he just needs someone to smack him.
*With Marc Savard and Marco Sturm both likely to return to the team before year’s end, the Silly Season of trade rumors will be early this year. Because the Bs will need to make cap room regardless of who stays and who goes, expect to hear about a third of the roster get mentioned in alleged trade talks. GMs simply doing their due diligence leads to rampant and baseless speculation. But hey, those columns gotta run, right? Take it all with a grain of salt and remember that the trade that eventually gets made is very often one that you never actually read about anywhere. There are too many variables at play right now to really accurately speculate just what the Bs might do. No need to make a deal until you absolutely have to.
*The Bruins honored team icon Milt Schmidt before the game and the N.E. Sports Museum unveiled an exhibit devoted to him as well. The 92-year-old gentleman is the only guy to serve as player, captain, coach, and GM for the franchise. A member of the famed “Kraut Line”, Schmidt had a hand in four of the Bruins’ five Stanley Cups—two as a player and two as GM. Like many athletes of the era who served their country, Milt missed three peak years when he served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII but still racked up a resume worthy of the Hall of Fame and he was elected in 1961. Though his #15 was retired ages ago, Schmidt never experienced the banner raising because a ceremony was not held (pre-Jacobs, people). However, the Bruins rectified the situation last night so that Milt could have the same experience that fellow attendees Terry O’Reilly, Ray Bourque, Bobby Orr, and Cam Neely had. And it was a well-done affair classed up by the genteel and still sharp legend. Though very few in the building were around when Schmidt laced them up, it gave history-savvy Bruins fans from the last few generations the chance to show their appreciation and salute the man who arguably has done more to alter the franchise for the better than anyone else involved with the team since its inception.
*Enjoy your Halloween weekend, Stoolies, and be safe. Still trying to decide what I’m going with for a costume. It’s been awhile since my Travis Bickle won raves.
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