Seguin not sweating his goal count

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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.

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar
 

Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

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Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”