WILMINGTON, MA Tyler Seguin is aware that hes scored only one non-empty net goal in his first 11 games of the season.
The 21-year-old is still getting the invitations to be the cover boy for the Improper Bostonian and there are still No. 19 Seguin jerseys all over the TD Garden stands at home games. So the heat and sizzle is still there for Seguin as the young darling of the Boston sports scene, but hes also going through the first real offensive struggles of his career with the Bruins in whats been a charmed hockey existence.
Im not scoring. Ive had opportunities and Im not bearing down on some of them. But Im playing good in my defensive zone, said Seguin. Im just shooting. Ive been trying a lot of different things. Maybe I was a little too cute at first, but not Im just trying to get pucks on net.
I know eventually that a couple will go in and Ill go on a roll. I just need to stay with it and bear down.
His coach, Claude Julien, said after Thursdays practice that its a matter of Seguin pushing himself to get a little more out of his game offensively. The Bruins are currently middle-of-the-road offensively while averaging just 2.7 goals per game, and that mark couldshould rise significantly once Seguin goes on a goal-scoring tear.
We know we can get more out of him. Its a matter of pushing him and its a matter of him pushing himself, said Julien. He hasnt been a poor player, but I think there is more thats expected of him. I think theres more that he can give us.
Hes still a young player. You can squish him and make it worse, or you can try to help him through it. You can push the right buttons to get his game back to where it should be.
Theres little doubt that is true, but theres also plenty to like about the game hes currently putting up. Hes second on the Bruins with 34 shots squeezed off in 11 games and he leads the team with a plus-8 rating while ranking sixth on Boston with six points this season.
But expectations have been raised for the All-Star forward in his third season, and there are whispers out there that Seguin isnt battling hard enough. Hes not taking it hard enough to the net and the young forward is shying away from contact, and thats why the goals havent been as plentiful. While its true that Tyler Seguin is never going to play the walls like a bruising Milan Lucic, that will never be the case for a 6-foot-1, 182-pound forward built to score goals and create offensively.
When Seguin was asked if his compete level is the problem, thats not exactly how he sees it.
I dont agree with that at all. If you go look at my shifts its not like Im losing battles all over the ice or anything like that. You cant explain it, said Seguin, who had 4 goals and 11 points along with a plus-8 after his first 11 games last season. When theyre going in theyre going in, and when theyre not, then theyre not. Were 11 games in and we still have a long way to go.
Im not going to say Im worried. Im just trying to be even more focused as the days go on here that Ill start putting them in. Im not about to quit the game quite yet.
The biggest thing Seguin has going for him while not firing on all cylinders offensively: the team is still winning hockey games. The microscope would be trained with a great deal more scrutiny on Seguins struggles if the Bruins werent off to an 8-1-2 start in their first 11 games.
Instead Seguin has managed to fly under the radar ever so slightly while he attempts to find the goal-scoring range, and Julien attempts to push the right buttons that will suddenly turn his puck phenom back into a scoring machine.