Seguin, Bruins leave Maple Leafs in ruins
Seguin gets first career hat trick
TORONTO - No point in asking the Leafs if the Bruins are fighting a Stanley Cup hangover. The hottest team in the NHL - at least prior to last night - has been preoccupied getting its brains beaten in every time it faces the defending Cup champs.
Tyler Seguin struck for his first career hat trick and Milan Lucic scored a pair of goals, looking much more like the guy who wore No. 17 last season in the Boston lineup, and the Bruins inched a tiny bit closer to .500 last night with a 7-0 shellacking of the Maple Leafs in front of a stunned, nearly mummified, crowd of 19,497 at Air Canada Centre.
When it was over, four Bruins, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Seguin, and Lucic, finished with 3 points apiece. Bergeron pocketed three assists, while Krejci, off to a horrid offensive start, finished 1-2-3 and placed three shots on net. It was Boston’s second win this season over the Leafs. The Bruins pasted them, 6-2, Oct. 20 on Garden ice.
It was by far Seguin’s most impressive game as a pro, one that added further context to the question whether he might blossom into one of the game’s rare elite talents. The speedy Toronto homeboy, selected No. 2 in the 2010 draft, connected for Boston’s first goal in the first period, then added two more in the second, boosting his team-high total to seven (7-7-14 through 12 games).
Seguin’s first strike was a one-time rip job out of the Mike Bossy school of quick-release sniping. On No. 2, for the 2-0 lead, he batted a chest-high puck into the net with a backhander. No. 3 was another Bossy knockoff, picking the top righthand corner, short side, and sending netminder Ben Scrivens to the bench for the night. Scrivens, from Cornell, was in Big Red form - the big red light behind him never stopped flashing.
Tim Thomas, who stopped 25 creampuff shots for his first shutout this season, figures Seguin is much stronger and confident this season. What took the kid a season-plus to get it going?
“Well,’’ offered Thomas, “he’s an 18-year-old kid with size 13 feet. It takes a while to get used to it.’’
It has taken the entire Boston squad the better part of five weeks to grow accustomed to the workaday world of the 82-game NHL schedule. The Bruins have won two straight for the first time this season and stand 5-7-0 through 12 games, far closer resembling the team that won its first Cup in 39 years this past June.
Rarely able to manage leads most nights this season, the Bruins went ahead on Seguin’s first pop at 6:23 and kept the game clock in their pockets for the rest of the 53:37. It’s a much easier game when you’re not chasing the scoreboard like it was ’ol Swifty at Wonderland Park.
“That first goal on the power play was huge,’’ said coach Claude Julien, noting that Seguin’s first came with Joey Crabb off for holding. “That gave us the momentum we needed.’’
The Bruins had only one more chance on the advantage all night, failed to score with it, but they kept up the unrelenting stream of even-strength goals that turned the affair into a Black-and-Gold belly laugh.
Seguin’s second, the bat-in fungo shot, made it 2-0 only 34 seconds into the second. Lucic followed with his first, off a quick feed from Zdeno Chara, only eight seconds later. Before the night was over, the Bruins coupled quick goals twice more to complete the beatdown. Seguin (for the hat trick) and Krejci scored 14 seconds apart to boost the lead to 5-0 by the 15:15 mark of the second, then Lucic and Greg Campbell scored 28 seconds apart to make it 7-0 at 6:12 of the third. All from a team that scored only 27 times over its first dozen games.
The Leafs were reeling from the time of Seguin’s first goal and through the night. Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel was virtually invisible, as if he were cloaked by Harry Potter’s magical invisible cape for the entire 16:13 he logged across 21 shifts.
Kessel opened the season with a blistering seven goals in his first five games and was named the NHL’s Player of the Month. He has one goal in his last six games (1-4-5) and has gone the Full Thornton 0-0-0 in two games and a total of 36:24 in ice time against the Bruins.
Every time Kessel goes up against the Bruins, the Wisconsin Wonder must deal with the towering Chara as his all-night ankle bracelet. Big Z finished with two assists, two shots, and one compacted Kessel. It doesn’t look like Kessel’s recurring nightmare will end unless he can hire a lawyer to work up some deportation scam against the Trencin Tower of Power.
When the night was over, the only name Torontonians talked about was their homegrown Seguin.
“I was a Leafs fan growing up,’’ said a beaming Seguin. “To get my first hat trick here, it’s pretty cool.’’
And for the first time this season, the Bruins look like they’re getting hot.