Seguin flying in first skate after lockout

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Seguin flying in first skate after lockout

BOSTON -- Perhaps to make Tyler Seguin feel a little bit more comfortable, Andrew Ference gave the 20-year-old forward his Ceske Budejovice school-bus-yellow retro sweater to wear during Monday mornings skate at Agganis Arena.

It wasnt a complete replica of Seguins colorful outfit that he donned as Switzerlands leading scorer over the last four months with 25 goals in 29 games for HC Biel. But it was certainly Euro enough to qualify.

He had a different jersey over there in Switzerland for being the leading scorer, so he felt right at home, said Ference. He was just missing the helmet with the flames shooting out of it.

Make no mistake about it, though. Seguin looked like he hasnt missed a beat while weaving through defenders and firing off sizzling wristers with a lightning-fast release. He was joined by Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and Ference on the ice at Boston University, and was clearly the best player on the ice skating among All-Star performers like Keith Yandle.

If anything, the 20-year-old looks even better than the hockey player last remembered for his overtime game-winner against the Washington Capitals last spring, and looks primed for a dominant stretch over a 48-game shortened regular season. Seguin looks more like a player ready to take on a bigger role, more ice time, more responsibility and a key role on the Boston power play thats been screaming out for more of his skill and creativity over the last two years.

I feel great. I played a lot of games over in Europe, said Seguin. Obviously Ive got to re-adjust to playing on a smaller ice surface again. Even today it felt like the D were coming up a bit quicker. But I feel well-conditioned and ready to go.

Seguin said hes just happy to be back in Boston after a long, strange journey in Switzerland, and he's looking forward to once again donning the Black and Gold.

Words cant describe it. From not seeing the guys to missing the game, its been a long couple of months, said Seguin. I want to apologize to the fans for everything that happened, but hopefully we move forward from here.

There was a couple of times I got text messages telling me to pack my bags, and then I got a call the next day telling me it was a false alarm. That got a little annoying. Obviously we missed some games and hopefully the fans come back. Were looking forward to putting that stuff in the past.

While the third season in the NHL is typically when young stars blossom into superstars and Seguin is already coming off an All-Star campaign where he led the team in goals scored and points, theres another element to it as well. Playing on his own for a few months in Europe adds another stage to his development as a player and a professional athlete, and has him in a position to really hit the ground running once the NHL season opens on Jan. 19.

For a guy like Tyler I think he grew up a lot over there in Europe, said Ference. He learned a lot about life in general and the type of hockey he was playing over there was tremendous. All down the line guys are going to be prepared at game speed ready to go.

Thats on top of the good core group of guys we have coming back anyway. So its really exciting.

Unfortunately a 48-game schedule means that Seguin cant put up a 35-40 goal season with some gaudy offensive numbers to show how much hes improved from last years version. But it should be apparent early and often if the same No. 19 flying around the Agganis Arena ice surface is zipping through defenders when the Bruins open their schedule on Jan. 19.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."