BOSTON – The Boston Bruins organization usually does a very good job with the special events and pregame presentations, so it was no surprise they put together a wonderful ceremony to commemorate Milt Schmidt’s 80 years with the Original Six club one day after his passing at 98 years old. There were 15’s painted on the ice behind each net, and a No. 15 patch on each player’s sweater that will remain there for the rest of the season.
The video presentation did a masterful job of illustrating Schmidt’s many Hall of Fame accomplishments while sprinkling in plenty of examples of his gentlemanly personality, and the moment of appreciative applause held for Schmidt at the end of the video tribute was a nice touch. Unfortunately the Bruins didn’t follow that touching, on-the-money presentation with the kind of collective effort one would hope for, and instead dropped another home game in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden.
“I was obviously close to Milt [Schmidt] and [there] would be nothing better than winning the game in his honor for what he has done. I felt like we didn’t do a good job,” said Zdeno Chara, who dropped the gloves in the first period with Patrick Maroon to try and fire up his Bruins teammates. “For sure [it was] a tough game to lose, especially on a night like this. It was a night where it was dedicated to Milt [Schmidt] and what he has done. I felt that we let him and obviously his family, including the fans, down. [It was a] tough way to lose. I thought we were obviously playing a tight game and then we lost it by mistakes happening in the third. They got the two-goal lead and we made [it] one goal, but you know we fell short.”
Clearly Chara felt the individual responsibility to win one for Milt given his own personal friendship with the Bruins legend, and Patrice Bergeron sounded the same tone as the longest tenured Bruin going back to his rookie season in 2003-04. Losing a flat one-goal game to an Edmonton team that could have been taken on Thursday night was regrettable, but failing to find that extra level on home ice during such a special day for the franchise left a bad taste in Bergeron’s mouth.
“If you let these teams get those types of chances, they’re going to hurt you. It’s really frustrating, especially on a night like tonight with the passing of Milt [Schmidt],” said Bergeron, who scored his fourth goal in the last games in defeat for the Bruins. “So it’s really tough right now with this loss.
“Defensively, the chances in the slot, we’ve definitely got to figure that out. Obviously it’s always the same kind of things that are coming back and creeping back into our game. We have to fix it.”
The Bruins will continue trying to fix things that have been wrong about Boston’s game for the last month. But one thing they won’t get: Another chance to follow-up the organization’s wonderful pregame tribute with a winning on-ice tribute of their own to Schmidt, the Ultimate Bruin as a former player, captain, coach and general manager.