Coming home the latest new experience for Jack Eichel

DJ Bean
December 26, 2015 - 10:13 am
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[caption id="attachment_55145" align="alignright" width="350"] Jack Eichel is set to face the Bruins at TD Garden for the first time. (Tom Brenner/Getty Images)[/caption] When Jack Eichel was 14 years old, he bought his father tickets to a Bruins game as a birthday gift. They sat at TD Garden and watched as the teams combined for 187 penalty minutes in a game that saw every type of scrap imaginable and then some. As Eichel recalls, it seemed there were '€œlike 10 guys left on each bench'€ by the end of the night. The result was an 8-6 win in a season that would see the teams meet again in the playoffs as Montreal provided what proved to be the biggest obstacle in the Bruins'€™ eventual Stanley Cup run. "I remember being here for that game,"€ Eichel said. "That was crazy." Speaking to the media Saturday, Eichel didn'€™t need to provide that anecdote to illustrate the fact that his recently concluded morning skate was not his first time at TD Garden. The North Chelmsford native'€™s been there plenty of times over the years, most notably winning the Beanpot and Hockey East championship in his Hobey Baker-winning freshman season at Boston University last season. "This building'€™s been pretty good to me," Eichel quipped. After turning pro upon his selection as the No. 2 overall pick in June'€™s draft, Eichel will face the Bruins on Garden ice for the first time as his father watches from a suite with the rest of his family. The 19-year-old center is a top-six forward for the up-and-coming Sabres, a star in the making if he isn'€™t one already. "To be 19 -- sometimes I think to myself, like, '€˜Am I playing junior hockey right now?'€™ Because this guy is so good at 19," quipped former Bruin and current Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson. "I'€™m thinking of where I was at 19 years old, playing college hockey, and he'€™s in the NHL just going through guys and veteran D men. It'€™s impressive. He'€™s only going to get better with experience and learning the routine of a professional hockey player and travel and getting used to that. It'€™s crazy how good he is." So far, Eichel'€™s production has not been as overwhelming as his skill. He has a respectable 16 points through 16 games, which is enough to place him third in points (second among forwards) for the somewhat surprisingly offensively challenged Sabres. Eichel ranks sixth among rookies in both points and goals (nine). "Obviously you want to produce points,'€ Eichel said. "You want something to show on the scoresheet after games. You think you played well, but a lot of times there'€™s things that you build off in a game that didn'€™t show up on the scoresheet -- if it was a good back check or you broke up a big play or you won a faceoff for your team. The way I look at it is if you'€™re getting your chances and you'€™re around the net and you feel good about your game, then you'€™re probably playing pretty well. There'€™s been a stretch of games where I didn'€™t feel good about my game, and I think I'€™m starting to get it back where I'€™m happy." Seeing a Bruins win used to be all it took for Eichel to leave the Garden satisfied. Times have certainly changed for one of Massachusetts'€™ biggest hockey stars.

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