Seguin rediscovering his game after lull

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Seguin rediscovering his game after lull

It looks like things might be turning around for Tyler Seguin.

After going through an offensive slowdown that saw the 19-year-old pot only two goals in 14 games and getscratched in a road gamefor disciplinary reasons, Seguin is heating up once again. He earned an assist on Brad Marchands game winning goal in the Bs 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and has chalked up three points and 11 shots on net in his last two games.

The high-powered winger was also part of the Boston quintet on the ice that allowed Montreals first goal when the B's wall of defensecouldnt slow down Tomas Plekanecs rush into the offensive zone, but thats become a trade-off that the Bruins are willing to make. The entire team defense suffered a letdown in the second period, but Seguin made up for it with the perfect tape-to-tape saucer pass straight out of the nasty hockey skills handbook to set up Marchand's game-winner.

With Tyler its starting to come around again. You can see those kinds of offensive plays, said Claude Julien. I wouldnt say its half and half, but there are times in the game where we see some of the things that hes struggling with.

But then hell go out the next shift and do the things that we know hes very good at. That consistency is something Seguin is working on. Those offensive plays hes been making have been more of his nature are encouraging right now because it shows that hes working his way out of it.

Seguin has responded with three points in his last two games, and is still on pace for 37 goals and nearly 80 points for the kind of scoring totals the Bruins havent witnessed in several seasons. So what was the key to Seguin turning things around with so much swirling around the second-year player? What was the answer to counteract his offensive slowdown that seemed tocoincide with the disciplinary actions taken against himin Winnipeg after missing a morning meeting?

We all go through little valleys in the season, said Seguin. Its about finding that consistency and dealing with that self-frustration when youre not getting points.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara actually sat down with Seguin while the team was in Ottawa, and the veteran leader sensed his young teammate was straying from his game out of sheerdesperation. Charas message in the conversation was simple: Scale things back to the foundation of your game and focus on your offensive skills.

That little chat between seasoned leader and fresh-faced youngster left Seguin empowered with the same kind of confidence and determination that marked his start to the season. It also allowed the 19-year-old to relax and take the weight of the world off his shoulders while the Bruins kept churning out the wins.

Offensive struggleshaven't reallyhappened to me much in my career, but I really felt a difference after having a conversation with Chara in Ottawa, said Seguin. I give him a lot of credit. He told me to get back to what Im good at and stop getting frustrated about not getting points or whatever. It goes a long way. I dont know if he realizes it, but I could see it on his face when he was talking to me that he really cares about me. He told me whats up and it was something that really worked for me.

I had been thinking a lot. I know my strengths are skating and shooting, and I had a lot of shots on net in my last game. I know I had a few more shots tonight. I know Im getting back to that.

Seguin isnt all the way back to the electric offensive talent that sparked the Bruins in the opening months of the season, but hes back on the road to the top thanks to some inspirational words from his captain.

Bruins acquire bottom-six forward Drew Stafford from Winnipeg.

Bruins acquire bottom-six forward Drew Stafford from Winnipeg.

BRIGHTON -- Bruins general manager Don Sweeney gave every indication it was going to be a mostly quiet trade deadline for the Black and Gold, and it was . . . right up until the 3 p.m. deadline.

Then the B’s dealt a conditional sixth-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Drew Stafford. The trade was announced shortly after Wednesday's 3 p.m. deadline.

Stafford, 31, is having a down year due to injuries and ineffectiveness and has four goals and 13 points along with a minus-2 rating on the season, and has played in only 40 games this season after being dealt two years ago to the Jets from Buffalo along with Tyler Myers. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Stafford was a bit of a Bruins killer during his time in Buffalo and topped out with 31 goals and 52 points n the 2010-11 season. He scored 21 goals and 38 points in 78 games for Winnipeg last season, but compiled a whopping minus-23 mark.

This is a no-risk move for the Bruins, who surrender very little for a player who will give the B’s an option at wing should one of their younger players begin to struggle, or who could potentially replace someone like Jimmy Hayes among their bottom-six forwards.

Other than Stafford, the Bruins stood pat and watched as players like Radim Vrbata, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog didn’t move ahead of the deadline. The B's weren’t about to move their top prospects and blue-chip assets while in a rebuilding phase, and they were smart to stick to the low-risk/high-reward type move. Sweeney and Company are clearly betting on the group they’ve put together to finish up strong and power into the postseason in the final 19 games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. 

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.