This post is part of a series looking back at the top 10 games of the Bruins’ 2010-11 regular season.
Someday when the Bruins’ 2010-11 season is turned into a Broadway musical, the opening number should be titled “Thank You Kessel.”
No other three-word phrase better sums up one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are Stanley Cup champions and are built to contend for years to come. Think about it, had the Bruins given in to Kessel’s financial demands in the summer of 2010, things would’ve been very different in terms of personnel. Obviously, there’d be no Tyler Seguin. There’d also probably be no Nathan Horton. And who knows whatever players wouldn’t have fit under the Bruins’ cap without corresponding moves to remove a player who wound up contributing to the magical run of ’11.
The chant was born Oct. 28 at TD Garden during a 2-0 Bruins win which was a thrilling enough game to rank No. 7 on the list of top 10 Bruins games as picked by TheBruinsBlog.net.
The hype around the Bruins-Toronto game that night was all about Kessel’s first return of the season and Seguin’s first-ever game against his hometown team. With 41 seconds left in the first period, Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins ahead, 1-0, when he one-timed a shot from the top of the left circle off a cross-ice feed by Zdeno Chara.
Tim Thomas was cruising along while being hardly tested (the Bruins outshot Toronto, 21-12, through two periods) and Nathan Horton showed the first signs of his ferocity with a fight against longtime rival Dion Phaneuf just past the midway point of the second period.
Not long after the bout, Seguin added insult to injury for the Maple Leafs. With 7:34 left in the second period, the rookie stopped a Dennis Seidenberg pass to the left dot and fired the puck short side for his first TD Garden goal of his career.
The Leafs managed just eight more shots in the third period, and Thomas finished with a 20-save shutout. The highlight of the night, however, didn’t emanate from the crease or the attack zone or the bench. It came from the stands, where the chant “Thank You Kessel” became a celebratory song for the 17,565 in attendance once Seguin extended the Bruins’ lead.
Like his Leafs teammates, Kessel was shut out (he still hadn’t scored a goal against his old team at that point). He finally came around and scored two goals over the next five games vs. Boston, which included four Toronto victories. Bruins fans had to go from thanking him to cursing him once again (although for eternity his departure will be a key turning point for the eventual Cup champs). But during one early-season victory at least, Kessel was almost as popular at the Garden as the men in black and gold.