This city oozes charm and history…and meaning.
The birth of our nation occurred among the rolling hills of this town _ and many other towns like it. You feel it here, you sense it here. Think back, to a time when a group of citizens rallied to defeat their oppressors, when they battled for a fresh start in a new land.
“They tell us Sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year?’’
Tyler Seguin had to come back to Boston sooner or later. Would it have been better for his return to come at the end of the season? Would he have benefitted from the old schedule that didn’t require a trip to every city every year? In retrospect, no.
He needed to come back, and it was probably best that he returned when the wound was still fresh. It was better to come back when the media was ready with tough questions, when the outtakes of “Behind the B’’ were all over the internet, when he could easily recall a move down the lineup during last season’s playoffs.
“I have to say it’s a special game. I knew where this was on the calendar. I knew my first time in Boston,’’ Seguin said.
He got it over with…and won, 3-2 in the shootout. It was a big comeback fueled by Vern Fiddler’s penalty shot in the third period and capped when Seguin and fellow former Bruin Rich Peverley scored in the shootout. It was a storybook ending, the kind you tell your grandchildren about.
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
Seguin had his ups and downs in the game. He was nervous to start, but when linemate Jamie Benn potted a goal just 3:38 into the game, there had to be some relief. Jordie Benn made a nice play in the neutral zone to start a counter-attack, and Valeri Nichushkin fed Jamie Benn, who snapped in his fifth goal of the year.
It was a nice moment, a bonding moment. The Benn brothers and Seguin have become friends, so what better way to support a friend than in a time of need.
Seguin was booed during the announcement of the starting lineups and also booed when he touched the puck. That was mixed in with a tribute video played on the Jumbotron that resulted in some confused looks.
But Seguin got it. He said there were good times and bad times in Boston, and he wanted to remember both.
“I heard some cheers and some boos,’’ Seguin said. “I have seen a lot of players come back here – you know popular athletes, which I was in this city. I am sure that here are mixed feelings out there. I can only go out there and play hockey.’’
But with each little boo, he had to dig in a little more. With each little razzing, he had to want to win a little more.
Seguin had gone 1-for-14 in the faceoff circle against Ottawa Sunday and heard it from coach Lindy Ruff about his effort. He went 6-for-9 on Tuesday.
“I kind of got called out a little bit by my coach last game in Ottawa. I wanted to be better on the faceoffs and just be a better centerman out there,’’ Seguin said afterward. “I thought I played pretty solid, obviously nothing really offensively….But our line was plus tonight against a pretty good hockey team and great faceoff men.’’
Seguin finished with 22:01 in time on ice, put two shots on goal, missed the net with three others, and finished plus-1.
“We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency.
There’s a reason the Bruins went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, they are one of the deepest and most physical teams in the league. They showed that talent early on, when they ran up a 15-1 edge in shots on goal and enjoyed two power plays in the first 10 minutes. It was a physical bruising that brought back the memory of two other painful Stars losses in Boston, and had fans watching at home cringing about the possibility of another debilitating outcome.
Even though it was 1-1, it just seemed the Stars were going to lose eventually.
But Kari Lehtonen hung in strong (eventually stopping 34 shots in the game), and the Stars did something very interesting _ they started to play their game. Instead of engaging in a physical war they likely would not win, they switched to their speed game. When the Bruins tried to start fights, the Stars kept their cool and refused the offers.
Slowly, but surely, the shot differential was whittled and Dallas had a 23-22 edge in shots on goal after two periods. It was quite a defining moment for this team.
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
_John Paul Jones
The Stars are a small team, but they are a fast team _ and they are just learning how to use that speed. After bobbling pucks and making unforced giveaways early in the season, the Stars are figuring out that if they simply make smart plays at high speed, opponents will struggle with the results.
“We’re a speed team,’’ said defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “If we play with speed, we’re a hard team to play against. If we play as a team, we’re a hard team to play against.’’
Rich Peverley knew exactly what the Bruins were trying to do by drawing the Stars into hand-to-hand combat. They were trying to create an arena that fed on their strengths.
“We had a horrible start. I don’t think we were skating, maybe some guys were a little intimidated,’’ Peverley said. “I think we all know that they’ve got four or five legit heavyweights that can throw them really well. That’s not a battle we’re going to get into, because we don’t want to come out on the wrong side of that. I think if we play our game, we’ve got four lines that can skate well. I think it showed tonight.’’
“We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
The Stars hung together. After Milan Lucic gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead at the 11:39 mark of the third period, the Stars hung together, They scratched and clawed back, and they got their break when Vern Fiddler busted in alone on a breakaway. Fiddler was checked from behind by Dennis Seidenberg and was given a penalty shot.
The 33-year-old center had taken just one other penalty shot in his career and made it, and he made no mistake on this one. Fiddler confidently skated in and roofed a backhander, sparking many Fiddler on the Roof comments.
“I had one in Calgary before, and I tried to go with the same move,’’ he said. “You try to stick with what works.’’
And if you saw the team celebrating, (watch it here) you know just how well it worked.
After Fiddler scored with 2:34 remaining in regulation, it seemed there was no way the Stars would lose. They pushed the pace in overtime, and Fiddler had a chance to win the game. In addition, several teammates stepped up play, including Shawn Horcoff and Jamie Benn.
“I thought the leadership of our team was fantastic after the first period. I give it all to Benn and Fidds,’’ coach Lindy Ruff said. “Even the penalty killing with Horc and all those guys. Those guys deserve a lot of credit. You can say all you want as a coach, but I think those were the guys out there that went and changed the game.’’
There are moments in the season that are looked back at fondly, moments that change the team. The Stars are hoping Tuesday was one of those moments.
This city oozes charm and history…and meaning.