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The aptly named “reunion week”, which will see the return of four prominent former Bruins to Boston, didn’t quite get underway the Bruins would have hoped. But, they still have two games left to right the ship and prove that general manager Peter Chiarelli made the right moves.
Tuesday night saw the Dallas Stars come to town and tagging along were former Bruins Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. The two players and Ryan Button were traded to the Stars in July of 2013 for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser.
The deal was surprising to most as Seguin was only 21 years of age and both he and Peverley were key parts to the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Championship and their run to the finals in the lockout shortened season of 2012-13. You can be sure the folks at SportsBettingOnline.ag would not have seen it coming. However, moving Seguin and Peverley opened up a lot of cap space that allowed the team to extend Tuuka Rask and Patrice Bergeron. Chiarelli also went on record to say that he wanted Seguin to be more of a professional, not surprising considering the bender he went on after the Bruins won the cup in 2011.
On Tuesday, Seguin and Peverley got the last laugh. The game was tight all the way through and went into overtime tied at two. The overtime remained tight as neither team was able to notch a goal and a shootout ensued. Only Bergeron was able to score for the Bruins as both Seguin and Peverley beat Rask en route to a 3-2 Dallas victory.
Next on the docket is Tim Thomas and the Florida Panthers who are set to face the Bruins on Thursday. The Bruins already faced their former net minder in October when they won 3-2, but this would be Thomas’ first return to Boston.
The game in October was basically what everyone expected a showdown of the goalies featuring Rask and Thomas. The Bruins went up 2-0 early, but the Panthers battled back and tied the game before Reilly Smith (remember him, acquired in the Seguin trade) scored with 59 seconds left to win the game.
It is now being reported that Thomas will not play this Thursday as he is recovering from an undisclosed lower body injury. Thomas has said that he will travel with the Panthers to Boston so that still leaves the question, how will Boston fans receive him?
Thomas was a fan favorite in Boston as he burst on the scene as a sprite 32-year-old starter in 2006. Thomas would become and All-Star in the following seasons before winning his first Vezina Trophy in 2009. He again won the Vezina in 2011 as he led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Thomas also won the Conn Smythe trophy as his numbers were mind boggling, 238 saves (the most in a Stanley Cup series), a .967 save percentage (he allowed only eight goals as both that and the save percentage are now all-time records), and he did it all at the record-breaking age of 37.
Things went downhill from there. Thomas refused to visit the White House with the team citing his political beliefs as the reason. He then stated that he was going to sit out the 2012-13 season despite the fact that he was still under contract. Reports started to surface that Thomas was a me-first kind of player and that the team came second. Shortly thereafter he was traded to the New York Islanders.
Thomas’ legacy is still undetermined, but Thursday night may make it clearer when Boston fans either receive him with adulation or disparagement.
Fittingly enough, game three is the least dramatic of the trio as the Bruins welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. This will be the return of Phil Kessel. Kessel has been to Boston many times since his trade to Toronto in 2009, but reunion week just wouldn’t have the same effect if it only encompassed two games.
The return of Kessel is significant because not only is it intertwined with the return of Seguin, but it also matters in the actual standings. Kessel, like Seguin, was 21 at the time of his trade. In return the Bruins got a first and second rounder in the 2010 draft; the former became Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick, and a first rounder in the 2011 draft.
The arrival of Kessel essentially turned around the Leafs franchise. Prior to his arrival they were a bottom of the barrel team and now they are currently tied for first place in the Atlantic Division. They are leading the Bruins by three points as the Bruins have lost four of their last five games.
Look for the Bruins to try and carry some momentum from a win over the lowly Panthers into the Toronto game and finish out reunion week with a respectable 2-1 record.