As Seguin goes, so goes the B's power play

As Seguin goes, so goes the B's power play
March 2, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Claude Julien made a point in Bruins training camp of stating that the team was looking toward 21-year-old Tyler Seguin to develop into the power play quarterback that’s been missing from the man-advantage equation. The Bruins haven’t had a true power play QB since Marc Savard was leveled by a Matt Cooke blind side elbow three years ago, and therefore haven’t had a fully functional special teams attack in his absence.  

But the B’s coaching staff envisioned the right-handed shooting Seguin turning into a lethal triple-threat coming off the half wall that could shoot, pass or drive the net based on what penalty-kill units were doing to try and neutralize him. In an ideal world, the Bruins coaching staff envisioned one of the better scoring options being Seguin’s power-play teammates setting up the gifted forward for a bevy of one-timer chances from the left face-off circle, much like Tampa Bay does with Steve Stamkos.

So, perhaps it just took Stamkos to show Seguin the way in the first period Saturday when he smoked a one-timer from the bare bottom of the left circle to open up the scoring.

The Bruins fell down by a 2-0 score by the end of the first period, but it was Seguin’s power-play one-timer less than four minutes into the second frame that snapped Boston out of their slumber en route to a 3-2 victory over the Bolts at TD Garden.

The Seguin strike was part of a two power-play goal barrage for the Bruins in a home ice special teams’ display that’s been six weeks in the making.

It was also one of two one-timer strikes executed in victory. Rich Peverley also snapped one off from the left circle just 77 seconds after Seguin’s goal.

That’s something Julien liked to see as Seguin has had a handful of chances at one-timers through the first six weeks of the season. But Seguin would either miss high or wide with the hot shot or watch as the goaltender gobbled up his scoring bid like it was a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Not this time, though.

“I think both [Seguin and Peverley] got their one-timers going right. To me, it’s just another situation of our guys that haven’t scored much starting to come around,” said Julien. “We’ve talked about that for a while now, about certain guys being able to give you a little more. With time it’s going to come. It’s nice to see those guys score and hopefully get more confidence in doing it more often.

“[The one-timer] was one of the reasons we put [Seguin] there. He’s one of those guys on the half wall that’s got a good shot and he’s capable of taking those one-timers. He’s also a good skater, capable of moving, which our half wall guys did better tonight. They were moving a lot more. Instead of being stagnant there was a little bit more motion out there and it certainly helped our power play. [Seguin’s] one-timer and [Rich] Peverley’s are going to be important for us. We’ve been working a lot on that lately.”

The Bruins went 0-for-27 on the power play through seven-plus games on the TD Garden ice, and that pushed Geoff Ward and the Bruins coaching staff into special teams overdrive. The Bruins coaching staff ran through the power play on ice at practice as they always do while preaching movement and aggressiveness, and Ward sat down with Seguin to watch how the NHL’s best power play in St. Louis is humming at an almost 30 percent success rate.

“I always watch video and try to watch the highlights from games too. I sat down with coach Ward, and saw the way the St. Louis power play was shooting a lot of pucks at the net. It would be one or two passes and then get a shot off,” said Seguin. “So we’ve tried to start incorporating that type of mentality into our power play. It really worked out today.”

Of particular importance and pride to Seguin and the Bruins was the way they scored on the first power play.

The 21-year is supposed to be cranking the one-time blasts from the left face-off circle, and it’s the first time he’s scored a goal with that method in the NHL this season. It’s something Seguin has been working on since the end of training camp, so there might have been a little extra enthusiasm following his fourth goal of the season.

“I think we all know by now that there were some positives and negatives with me playing in Europe this season. But I’ve felt things coming along pretty well lately, and there’s no denying that goal felt good,” admitted Seguin. “There might have been a little extra in that celly [celebration] after I scored.

“I’ve been going into every game the same way, but obviously it’s just about burying down those chances. I felt like I was definitely shooting more pucks tonight and I want to stick with that.”

That is the other part of the equation along with the revival of both the Bruins power play and Seguin’s offensive game: generating more chances and making certain they turn into shots on net. Seguin said he made a concerted effort to get more shooting bids on net starting with the beginning of the team’s recent five-game road trip, and he’s squeezed off at least three shots in six of those seven games since.

He matched a season-high with five shots on net and had nine shot attempts while serving as a dominant offensive force Saturday afternoon.Seguin also has two goals and five assists. along with a plus-5 in those seven games, and is now operating as the exciting, dangerous, dominant player everybody expected out of the starting gate.

Obviously Seguin will have another game soon where he’s bottled up by a defense geared to stop him cold, and the Bruins power play is almost assured to have more trying days before this season is over.

But Boston’s most talented offensive player and their much-maligned power-play unit displayed for at least one game what it’s supposed to look like, and gave hope there will be more days like it for the Black and Gold in the immediate future.