Seguin searching for consistency in second year

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Seguin searching for consistency in second year

PITTSBURGH Even when Tyler Seguins offensive production slows down as it had with one goal and four points in his last nine games headed into Monday nights showdown with the Penguins the 19-year-old sniper is still dangerous.

Thats perhaps one of the biggest differences between this season and his rookie year when he managed 11 goals and 22 points.

Seguin has the confidence to jump up and strike an opponent when hes run into a little bit of a wall, and that was the case with his power play goal minutes into the third period that put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win over the Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center.

The goal gives him a team-leading 13 goals and 25 points in 25 games this season, so Seguin is keeping his point-per-game pace up. But the two shots on net and minus-1 in 13:02 of ice time signify that the Bs natural born scorer is fighting through a second-year lull thats bound to happen to a player learning at an exceptional rate.

He admitted following Bostons 14th win in 15 games that hes become frustrated in the last few games, and is hoping to recreate the magic and playmaking that typified the first six weeks to his breakout season.

Hopefully I can stop getting so frustrated in my head and start playing well, said Seguin. Its something I have to try to avoid. A lot of times people say its hard to stay consistent in this league and its something Ive heard many times. Its something Im trying to crack.

Im the first one to admit that I feel that way sometimes. Its bugging me that Im falling into that. But Im working my out of it and playing as strong as I can.

The goal itself was a thing of beauty with the Bruins opening the final period with a power play to start the action. Patrice Bergeron carried the puck into the offensive zone on the right side, and hit the turbo button while speeding past a flat-footed Matti Niskanen en route to the net. Bergeron got Marc-Andre Fleury to commit to Bergerons shot, and the center flipped a pass across the ice to Seguin for a scorched one-timer that gave Fleury zero chance to recover.

As it with many of Seguins pinpoint shots the puck hit the netting and bounced back out of the crease area like a rocket, but there was the goal. It was one the youngster wanted badly.

I dont know how many goals Id have if I didnt have Bergeron and Marchand on my line, but it was just nice to finish it off, said Seguin, who described the goal as nothing more than a tap in.

Production will come with Seguin once he gathers another burst of frenetic energy and gets back into lockstep with Bergeron to become the two-man fore-checking nightmare they represented through the majority of the season. Its simple reality that a youngster as talented as Seguin is going to find consistent excellence as more teams and more defenses pay closer attention to him with and without the puck.

Just witness the exchange between Sidney Crosby and Seguin after the teenager bumped Pittsburghs center prior to a whistle and cover-up in Bostons end during the first period. Crosby took notice and launched a few verbal barrages at Seguin, and the youngster returned fire on the Face of the NHL.

"I have the utmost respect for Crosby. He's one of best players in the world, said Seguin. But youve just gotta chirp back sometimes.

Thats the kind of answer that lets you know Seguin is figuring it out on the ice and will solve whatever has ailed him over the last 10 games. The third period power play strike might have been the start of something good.

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready for the February heat wave headed our way.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s a podcast I did on Tuesday talking Bruins with former Hartford Whalers great and current outstanding TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro, who is also a great FOH (Friend of Haggs).

*Good piece on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster that has already gained plenty of internet plaudits for his great, and now legendary, Nick Bonino goal call in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

*It’s never too early to look at this summer’s crop of NHL draft-eligible players. Right, Kevin Allen?

*Apparently Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has his own rap song, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Jason Brough has James Wisniewski trying to revive his NHL career after a short stint in the KHL.

*There’s a call for Nashville backup Juuse Saros to get more playing time between the pipes for the Predators.

*Larry Brooks brings his always interesting take to the Bruins situation in allowing Claude Julien to take the head gig in Montreal, and said it all came down to money. Big surprise there. I think there was also a concern from the B’s about having another PR nightmare on their hands if it was perceived that they stepped in and didn’t allow Julien to gain employment someplace else, regardless of what waited for him in the offseason. It also tells me that the Bruins aren’t afraid of Julien coaching their arch-rivals, which makes perfect sense since they just fired him.

*For something completely different: the image of Woody Harrelson in the Falcon cockpit is both jarring and super awesome.