Bruins shut down Leafs' offence
ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
|Boston Bruins' Nathan Horton and Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf fight. (REUTERS/CJ Gunther)
BOSTON - With his buddies back home in Toronto having a little fun at his expense all week, Tyler Seguin was happy to get the last laugh Thursday night.
The highly touted Boston rookie, who will forever by linked to Toronto because of the way he became a Bruin, had the first big night to remember in his young career.
The 18-year-old - who could have been a Leaf if the team hadn’t sent a draft pick to Boston to acquire Phil Kessel - scored a goal in the Bruins 2-0 win before a lusty sellout crowd at the TD Garden.
In truth, he was a bit player to the stellar show put on by Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who earned his second shutout of the season and has a ridiculous .981 save percentage and 5-0 record.
But it was a perfect forum for young Seguin to endear himself to his new fans, who responded with a crude and clever chant you might expect from one of the most savvy sports towns in North America.
“Thank-you Kessel, thank-you Kessel,” rang through the Garden once the cheers from Seguin’s second career goal died down.
Rapidly falling in love with the Beantown vibe, Seguin admitted afterwards it was difficult not to soak up the magic and humour of the moment.
“I was really trying not to laugh, but it just shows the supportive fans we have in Boston,” said the Brampton native, the No. 2 overall pick in the June entry draft. “It was pretty funny to a lot of us (on the bench).”
“That’s what our fans are all about,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They are great fans. They support the people that are here and taunt the ones who leave. To me, they are perfect fans.”
The big reward for Seguin came after the game when Julien and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli informed the young phenom that he will not be returning to junior after nine games. That means he can move out of the hotel he lives in not far from the Garden and get his own place.
On his goal, the quick release that made him such a star in the Ontario Hockey League, beat Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who was too late sliding across the net.
“I’m just trying to capitalize on my opportunities and I’m getting more confident every game,” said Seguin, who had three shots on net in 11 minutes and 41 seconds ice time.
While the night could have gone better for Kessel - he now has just one assist in seven games against his former team - he did get his chances. He had five shots in the first period but just one the rest of the way as the Bruins went into lock down mode with the lead.
“I had some good chances tonight but again I couldn’t bury them,” said Kessel, who led all shooters with six but didn’t seem to anxious to drive hard to the Leafs net. As for the chant, Kessel shrugged it off: “I could care less. It doesn’t matter to me one bit.”
What matters, however, is the lack of backup firepower on the Leafs roster. At one stretch, Leafs forwards went 17 minutes without a shot on net, a sorry output not helped by the fact that Kris Versteeg and his bad back couldn’t go while Colby Armstrong is gone for four-six weeks with a finger injury.
“We just couldn’t generate much,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “Timmy Thomas has given up three goals in five games. He’s on top of things.”
For one night at least, so was Seguin.