BOSTON -- It should come as little surprise that the likes of Bruins forward Bobby Robins could win an entire fan base over in one game’s time.
The feel-good story of training camp as Robins made the team after nine years of pro hockey without a trip to the NHL, the 32-year-old already had earned a large cheer from the crowd during pregame introductions. That cheer would turn into a standing ovation as Robins dropped the gloves with Philadelphia Flyers defensemen Luke Schenn in the second period of Wednesday’s season opener.
“That was great,” Robins said. “I know the brand of hockey these Boston fans like and I just hope to be able to provide that. To get that kind of reception was a great feeling. Hopefully more where that came from.”
Overall, Robins posted a strong game in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Flyers. He spent 6:58 on the ice, racking up five hits and playing the wing on a new-look fourth line that was impressive in its first go-round. Robins amassed seven penalty minutes in the contest -- five on the fighting major and two for charging.
“The energy that we’re looking for, he gave us some of it,” coach Claude Julien said. “First regular-season NHL game and you participate in it and you do your job and you do it well and come out of there with a win. It’s a good start for him. As a coach, you love seeing those kind of success stories happen in front of your eyes.”
In his years spent in the AHL, Robins was never one to shy away from a fight. His time spent in the box proved just that, amassing more than 200 penalty minutes in each of his last two seasons with the Providence Bruins. Thus, when Flyers instigator Zac Rinaldo laid a couple of big hits on some of his Bruins teammates, Robins knew it was time to even the score with a hit of his own.
“I just saw an opportunity to get a good run at Rinaldo there,” Robins said. “He’s known to be a pretty big hitter and took a few runs at our guys so I was hoping to get a good bump on him and one of his teammates came in and stuck up for him.”
Craig Cunningham, who was also in on the hit, wasn’t surprised Robins got involved.
“Bobby’s a guy where if he gets a chance to line a guy up that plays like that, you know he’s going to do it,” Cunningham said.
Schenn then came in to stick up for Rinaldo, tussling with Robins in an affair that ended with Robins recovering from a brief stumble to take down the defenseman over the top. After the fight, Schenn had some words for Robins, including a question asked while the two sat in the sin bin.
“He was asking if it was my first NHL game,” Robins said. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ It was a good fight. Just normal stuff guys say after a fight.”
The crowd’s reaction, however, was less than normal for Robins. The standing ovation, the banging on the boards, small chants of his name breaking out throughout the sellout crowd. It’s all part of a first game that Robins, who had his wife and 11-month-old daughter Libby in attendance cheering him on, surely will never forget.
“It was awesome,” Robins said. “After nine years, to have that happen is a dream come true. To play here at the Garden after playing for four years at UMass-Lowell and always watching the Bruins over the past bunch of years, it was a very special feeling.”
And nobody could blame him for feeling that way.
“If you were him, wouldn’t you be happy right now?” Julien said.