CHICAGO Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the sparkling offensive play of Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand for the rest of the Boston Bruins.
While the majority of Black and Gold skaters have stubbed their toes off a 1-3 start and seem to be asking themselves whats my motivation? Johnny Drama style, Seguin and Marchand are flying to start their seasons.
I want to do the best I can and try to win, said Tyler Seguin. I know that I still have a lot to prove and a lot of respect I need to earn. Thats been one of the main individual goals for me this season.
Marchand and Seguin have combined for eight points (3 goals and 5 assists), a plus-6 and 23 shots on net in four games to start the season, and have been by far the biggest offensive touchstones for a Bruins team that would love a do over dating back to Oct. 6 against the Flyers.
Seguin has created scoring plays all over the ice even if third liners like Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot havent been able to finish off the plays and electrified everybody including Carolina puck-stopper Cam Ward with his glove-side sniper shot against the Hurricanes.
Marchand has stuck his nose where it doesnt belong per usual, and is the most consistent finisher the Bruins can boast early in the season while proven goal-scorers like Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are experiencing difficulty putting the puck in the net.
So whats the magic formula for Marchand and Seguin?
Perhaps its that both young both players unlike almost everybody else on the roster -- felt like they had something still to prove headed into this year.
Both Marchand and Seguin were humorously teased and jabbed for letting the post-Cup partying go on just a little too long last June -- with shirtless pictures at bars all over Boston flooding Barstool Sports and the like as evidence.
They had themselves a good time after climbing Mt. Everest as Peter Chiarelli called it once the Bs captured the Cup, and with the wild celebration came the obvious questions.
Some wondered if Marchand would roll into training camp woefully out of shape after tearing up the Boston nightlife. Others thought perhaps Marchand was a one-year wonder incapable of repeating as a 20-goal scorer or as a postseason lion.
Seguin was a part of the celebration tag team with Marchand in the two weeks following the Cup, and thats perhaps the biggest reason why the team has looked into a billet family for the 19-year-old this season.
But there were questions on the ice for Seguin as well after a 21-point rookie season that screamed at his elite potential, but also provided a road map for all of the work required of him this summer.
In short both young players had tons to still accomplish headed into this year while words like comfort, complacency and motivation have crept in as buzz words in the year after Stanley Cup glory. Andrew Ference admitted along with some of his teammates that its been a delicate balancing act between still accepting kudos for last years achievement, and focusing on a team personality for this new band of hockey brothers.
Its busy and theres a lot going on, and the challenging part for the team as a whole is where do you find that balance between celebrating what youve done embracing the accomplishment because there are a lot of good things that come out of it with good lessons and plenty of positives but also creating the team identity of this year . . . building on the drawing for this year with new lessons and new victories, said Ference. Its a hard thing to explain and a hard thing to figure out, but its something that every successful team has gone through to find the balance.
The bright side of everything: Marchand and Seguin are exactly where they need to be in order to make an impactful contribution to the Bruins, and the collective team is only losing one-goal games despite an admitted malaise. The Bruins will be that much better when everyone is on the same page.
The dark side: There is always going to be some level of complacency when so many players achieved their lifelong goals no matter what is said, and its a new experience for a team thats always thrived on adversity as its greatest fuel.
We have to bring some awareness to the fact that weve got to fight to find our game with a lot of our players, said Claude Julien. I find on the ice that we dont have everybody going at once. Were still close in games, but if we had everybody closer to the level we expect them to be then those one-goal losses would transform into wins.
Perhaps its time for more of the Bs nucleus to adopt the prove it to the public mentality that both of the young skaters consciously or unconsciously carried with them into the year despite reaching the NHL pinnacle.
Once the hunger returns for each of the 20 players on the ice for the Black the Gold the dominant shifts, successful periods and string of wins will surely follow.