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BOSTON (CBS) – I was all set to do a good blog on how Phil Kessel came back to Boston and for the first time had a really good game against the team he no longer wanted to play for three seasons ago.
After all, in each of the three seasons since, he has had great starts with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this season has been no different…so far. Kessel leads the league in goal scoring with seven and has/had a four game goals scoring streak and was the NHL’s First star of the Week last week.
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But, a funny thing happened on the way to the TD Garden. Once again Kessel was held off the score sheet against his former team and he was your basic non-entity except for the fact the fans continued their booing of him every time he touches the puck. They even cheered loudly when he fell on his own, losing the puck in the process.
So much for forgetting past transgressions.
So instead, it was the Boston Bruins that had a breakout game. After scoring 11 goals in their first six games, the B’s exploded for six tallies with five players having multiple point games. They brought the jump that was missing and the breakouts from their own zone into the offensive zone was much more crisp and efficient than anything we’ve witnessed this year.
Your number one pick a year ago (yes the pick from Toronto in exchange for PJK) Tyler Seguin had a great game with a goal and two assists, and was on the ice for all of the Bruin goals.
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In 13 games against his former team, Kessel has 2 goals and is a minus-8 while so far in his very young career, Seguin leads Boston in scoring and trails Kessel’s NHL lead by only four points.
But it really was all about ALL of the Bruins giving a maximum effort in all phases of the game. Forwards, defense and goaltending did what was expected of them despite all the line changing that coach Claude Julien did from their miserable outing on Tuesday. Shawn Thornton took on Toronto tough guy Colton Orr and had a pretty darn good battle right at the start of the game. There was no sitting back and letting the Leafs take it to them after going down by a goal early in the game. Instead, lead by Seguin and the power play, Boston scored the next six goals, two with the man advantage, and never looked like they were in trouble.
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And when they did let their guard down – a Grabovsky breakaway from the penalty box – Tim Thomas was his old reliable self.
This is what we’ve come to expect from the Bruins. Not the “take a spin around the ice and not play physical” team we’ve seen most of the seven games played. The question is can they put together these kind of performances back-to-back?
Saturday night brings a new challenge as another former Bruin Joe Thornton with the same kind of history as Kessel brings the Sharks into the TD Garden. Thornton and his teammates will come into Boston after playing in New Jersey on Friday night, just like Toronto played the night before. The Bruins have to take full advantage of this.
Stats: Bruins-Leafs Box Score
Thorton sidenotes; Joe Thornton comes into Boston and will play his 1001st National Hockey League game. This coming a week after another former Bruin Hal Gill played his 1000th. Congrats to both! Thorton also is one of only five NHLers in history to have 2 or more 90 assist seasons. The others….Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and former B’s, Adam Oates, and Mr. Robert Gordon Orr!
Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at BruinsDieHard.com and at twitter @bruins_diehard.