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Bruins keep lid on Kessel again

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON – It didn't take long after the Bruins' morning skate Thursday for a television reporter to ask Claude Julien if he thinks the whole Phil Kessel/Tyler Seguin story will ever go away.

The Bruins' coach quickly turned the tables on that inquisitor.


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"That's up to you guys. It's certainly not created by us," he said. "It's you guys that create the story all the time. We don't. We've turned the page, and I'm sure they have. Everybody wants to move on, but you guys control that. So I should be asking you that question, ‘Are you ever going to let that story die?'"

The latest chapter of the Boston-Toronto rivalry in the post-Kessel-trade era was another victory for the Bruins, who beat the Maple Leafs 6-2 at TD Garden on Thursday night. The Bruins are now 7-3-3 against Toronto since they traded Kessel to the Leafs in the fall of 2009 for a package of draft picks. One of those picks turned into Seguin as the No. 2 overall selection in the 2010 draft.

However, this installment of Bruins-Leafs started with a slight twist because for the first time Kessel arrived in the Bay State as the NHL's leading scorer with 5-7-12 totals in the Leafs' first five games. The Bruins put an end to Kessel's five-game point streak and limited him to just one shot on net.

"The thing is he has been so hot lately, and we know that, it's like we just want to make sure we're going to shut him down," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "It's not like we don't want to shut down every top line, but to take away time and space with him, we made sure he didn't do anything tonight and that was key."

Zdeno Chara has enjoyed plenty of success against Kessel since the speedy forward left town. Kessel had just 2 goals and 6 points in his prior 12 games against his former team. Thursday night was just a continuation of earlier impressive performances against one of the League's better snipers.

"We know that he's having a hell of a year so far, he is on top of the League and he is playing extremely well," Chara said. "And we were just trying to obviously play really tight and take away as much time and space for him.

After the game, Kessel was as silent off the ice as he was on it. On a night he wore an alternate captain's "A" on his sweater, he declined to speak to the media after the game.

"We know that he’s having a hell of a year so far, he is on top of the League and he is playing extremely well. And we were just trying to obviously play really tight and take away as much time and space for him." -- Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara on Maple Leafs' forward Phil Kessel
Kessel has five more games this season to make his former team pay -- and to keep the Leafs on the upswing as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Meanwhile, Seguin, who scored a goal and added two assists in the win, continues to improve in his second NHL season. The Bruins used the other two draft picks to select forward Jared Knight (second round, 2010) and defenseman Dougie Hamilton (first round, 2011), two highly touted prospects who could become part of the rivalry in the years ahead.

Julien, the players and the two organizations might want to move on from that blockbuster trade, but it's not going away. If the Bruins keep the clamps on Kessel in head-to-head matchups for the foreseeable future, their coach probably won't have any problem revisiting the story.

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