Seguin finds a home at the top

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Seguin finds a home at the top

BOSTON -- Its only been two games, but its looking like Tyler Seguin has found a home on the Bruins top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

The trio hasn't enjoyed the explosive scoring stretch that Marchand and Bergeron had last season when they were finally paired with Mark Recchi in the month of January, but it would take an act of the hockey gods to break up a group of forwards that seem made for each other.

Clearly Seguin is a phenomenon to himself as a 19-year-old mega-prospect finally coming into his own after getting tapped as the No .2 overall pick in the draft last summer, but he also knows that he needs skilled players like Bergeron and Marchand to compliment his offensive game. Both Bergeron and Marchand can help finish off Seguins creative play on the ice, and all three skate with the kind of speed, force and suffocating tenacity that far outweigh any downside.

I like playing with Bergeron and Seguin. I thought we played well together and really clicked out on the ice in the offensive zone, said Marchand. If we play like that consistently then hopefully were going to be a dangerous line, and that will allow us to stay together.

Seguin was good in a combination with Milan Lucic because he really forced the power forward to get his feet moving more quickly, and a pairing with Chris Kelly allowed the Bs two-way center to cover for some of his defensive inefficiencies along the way.

But the newly reconfigured gold line can effectively fore-check with speed and force, gives Seguin a pair of consistent finishers in Bergeron and Marchand and provides Seguin with the perfect lead-by-example player like Bergeron.

Everybody saw what happened in the second period against the Sens earlier this week when Seguin found Bergeron with a good-looking drop-back pass and the longtime Bs center showed the ability to pounce all over plays created by the second-year Seguin. Its no coincidence that Bergeron and Seguin are shooting the puck with more frequency than anybody else in the Black and Gold uniform, and that could be a dynamite playmaking combo moving forward.

Ive bounced around lines, and I never know what sticks and what doesnt, said Seguin. But Im going to just play my role and try to create chemistry with my linemates. Bergeron and Marchand both have great speed and were 1-1 as a team when were together. So we feel good as a line, and Im just stepping in trying to create speed and playmaking skills.

Theres plenty of long range wondering about Seguin as well with any number of trades potentially opening up a top-six roster spot for somebody hungering for a regular NHL job. Hypothetically any deals could open Seguin up for a chance to be one of the top two centers on the Bruins as early as this season, but it appears the Bruins are happy to have Seguin skating up and down the wall on the right wing. The daily responsibilities of a center are something Seguin will slowly or rapidly become accustomed to along with every other part of his game.

The long-range plans for Seguin are legion in Boston, and they include a great many things from the center position. But dont expect that move to the middle to come down this season permanently, and instead count on the youngster to form one of the most exciting lines in hockey alongside Marchand and Bergeron.

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury. 

Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system.