Seguin not sweating his goal count


Seguin not sweating his goal count

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.

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.