When you stumble upon a star

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When you stumble upon a star

By Michael Felger

It's late May and we're not only still talking Bruins hockey, we're arguing playoff hockey.

And that, of course, is right in my wheelhouse.

Felger, You DB!That Seguin kid is pretty good, eh?I was watching CSNNE's brilliant, concise, and informative postgame coverage on Tuesday, which began promptly after the final whistle. Mike Giardi mentioned that this was a game where people will claim they knew where they were because it was the moment Tyler Seguin became a star. While I agree it was an undeniable milestone in his career, it never would have happened without the events of May 6, 2011. We may very well smile and mockingly thank Flyers fans for Claude Giroux's hit (borderline, but the price of business in the playoffs) on Bergeron in the same way that I mention to Jets fans (in short, easily communicated sentences, or cave paintings) that I am a huge Mo Lewis fan. But unlike the Bledsoe and Brady situation, the Bruins won't have to pick one or the other to play when Bergeron returns. They both will be able to contribute to a team that already showed the desire and heart to win in the playoffs. Instead of taking away the Bruins' best player, it may have actually doubled the top-end skill on their roster. And I'm not going to call Tyler Seguin a superstar just yet, but Tuesday night proved he clearly has elite level finishing skills, something this team has been missing since the current Bruins president called it a career. If Tuesday wasn't just a aberration, Seguin becomes a game-changer going forward. Having a rookie player mature suddenly at an elite level late in the postseason can be the difference that this team needed to take that last step from conference finalist to champion. And I'm not talking about Seguin centering the first line. If Seguin can be a hockey version of Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez in the 2002 MLB playoffs, excelling in a well defined role, Mazz may need to stock up on some more cones. I don't want to get ahead of myself, Mikey, because we're still talking about a 19-year-old rookie, albeit a supremely talented one. And Bergeron's injury reminded everyone just how quick fortunes can change in the playoffs. It caused every Bruins fan to hold his or her breath. It tempered what should have been a triumphant moment of redemption against the Flyers. It made even the most ardent Bruins fan question their team's postseason aspirations. But maybe everything happens for a reason. On May 5, 1991, Ulf Samuelsson's hit on Cam Neely ruined his career and sent the Bruins into a funk from which they have yet to fully recover. On May 6, 2011, after exactly 20 long years, Claude Giroux's hit on Patrice Bergeron just might have uncovered the player the Bruins needed to finally win it all. MikeAttleboro

What a story. What a great debate. The kind of thing that makes the sports world go around. Was Tuesday's performance by Seguin an indictment on how Claude Julien handled the rookie this season (what I believe), or was it a reaffirmation that their take-it-slow approach was the right one?

We can argue that point plenty. But here's what is indisputable:

This was not part of any "master plan." The fact that Julien's team is now enjoying the fruits of Seguin's talent is purely accidental. Had Giroux not concussed Bergeron, Seguin would still be wearing a designer suit up on the ninth floor. And had Seguin's talent not been so over-the-top obvious, Julien wouldn't be giving him minutes and wouldn't be putting him on the power play. Remember, Julien sat Seguin down for 15 minutes following his first goal in Game 1, and he didn't put the kid on the man-advantage in Game 2 until late in the second period, after he had scored two more massive goals against the Lightning.

Seguin is on the ice no thanks to Julien. If it were up to the coach (and not Giroux), Seguin would still be a scratch.

Felger,For everyone saying the reason we didn't see this Tyler Seguin sooner is because he didn't deserve to be out there is flat-out crazy. You can argue he didn't belong at the beginning of the playoffs (which I'd agree with), but that doesn't excuse the fact that during the regular season he was never given a chance to prove that he had this in him by Claude. In 53 of the 82 regular-season games this year, Seguin was either scratched or was in the bottom three forwards in ice time, which means he was most likely banished to the fourth line in most of those games!I think most of the fans aren't pissed that he didn't play in the playoffs until now. But it's the fact that he was never given a legitimate chance in the regular season to show what he showed Tuesday night.Joe
Agreed. I refuse to believe there wasn't a better way to work in Seguin during the year. Maybe Claude was fearful for his job and he just didn't trust the rookie when every two points mattered. Whatever it is, it's now apparent the coach didn't get the most out of this player. I mean, how could it be any more obvious?

To me, Seguin should have been on the second power-play unit all season long. And if he played well in a given game, then he deserved time with some of the better players. There were long portions of the season when Nathan Horton or Milan Lucic or Mark Recchi or Michael Ryder were ineffective. Why couldn't Julien have spotted Seguin with some of those lines when the situation warranted? And if he played poorly, then he deserved to be sent down with the grinders or put up in the press box. It should have been a game-to-game, week-to-week process.

But that would entail Claude getting involved and actually making adjustments within the course a game, which is not what he does. We all know he just likes to roll out the four lines. 1-2-3-4. Thanks and goodnight. Unfortunately, Seguin got lost in that shuffle.

Hey, FelgerClaude better keep playing him now. What an idiot for keeping this kid on the bench all playoffs. DaveWinchester

Julien announced on Wednesday afternoon that Seguin would definitely be in the lineup Thursday night. And I don't think the statement was perfunctory. I was actually sweating it out. Claude now has to go to a beloved veterangrinder (Shawn Thornton or Dan Paille, I would guess) and break the news. It's going to be hard for him. He loves fourth-liners as if they were his own children. Let's just all hope he doesn't lose his nerve and change his mind.

Hey, FelgerThey used to say that Dean Smith was the only person who could keep Michael Jordan from scoring. Is Claude Julien Dean Smith to Tyler Seguin's Michael Jordan?DennisBeverly

Do you realize that Milan Lucic (five points in 13 playoff games this year) saw 6:13 of power-play time on Tuesday? And Seguin (six points in two playoff games) saw 1:49? Just saying.

Hey, MikeIf I were Cam, I would have read Julien the riot act about how he wasted 15 minutes before the Bruins' only goal-scorer at the time in Game 1 went back out.JeffReading

So you're saying Claude got a "talking to" about Seguin? What makes you think that? After the game last Saturday, Claude said "no comment" when asked about Seguin's ice time. Then the next day he said that he "would have" used Seguin had the power play not improved (it was 0-for-4 in Game 1). Then the next day Seguin actually worked with the power play during practice. And on Tuesday he actually got power-play time. Call me crazy, but there seemed to be an evolution between Saturday and Tuesday night. Maybe Claude came to it on his own. And maybe I'll be the Bruins' backup goaltender next season.

Hey, FelgerI couldn't agree more with you about both Claude and the Celtics trade. One thing I would do if I were Julien is put Seguin together with Recchi and Marchand. Leave lines 1, 3, and 4 intact. By moving Kelly or Peverley to the second line, you're messing around with two lines instead of one. The KellyPeverleyRyder line had some great chemistry going in the playoffs so far, why mess with that?Anyway, love the show with you and Mazz. Great to see you guys kicking ass.RaySomerville

I think the lines are pretty simple:

Horton-Krejci-Lucic
Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi
Ryder-Kelly-Seguin
Paille-Campbell-Peverly

Hey, FelgerWhen it comes to the Bruins, you have always been a realist. You have always been non-biased in your analysis as a reporter, columnist and host, and always were cognizant of the disappointment this team has given to its fan. You are the cognoscente of the Bruins in this town. Over many years I have cautiously followed the Bruins, always knowing not to get 100 percent committed as a fan.But, Mike, now you have fallen into the Bruins trap. You have become a FAN. I can see it. Your reporting has been borderline distorted. Youre bleeding Black and Gold. Mike, you know and I know in the end they are going to ruin our summer. Take a step back. Its not too late.BenBeverly

Don't worry, Ben. I have no delusions of grandeur. Tampa's big dogs came out to play on Tuesday (that Stamkos goal was stupid), and that scares the crap out of me. Seguin or no Seguin, the Lightning have more talent up front. If the B's don't improve in their own end (including goaltending), then they will get bounced quickly.

Hey, FelgerFor anyone to believe Bergeron will come back and have an impact on this series after his third serious concussion is beyond hopeful. If this was the regular season he would be out indefinitely and maybe would have shut it down for the year. (It seemed Crosby was "close" to returning for weeks.) I hope the Bruins come to grips with the idea he's not coming back and have guys ready to step up. Because let's face it, Craig Janney is not coming through that door.DavisCheshire

I disagree, Davis. Given all the awareness on head injuries in sports nowadays, and especially given Bergeron's history, there is no way anyone is taking any chances with this one. That's NO WAY. No doctor is going to clear Bergeron if he's even slightly questionable. The liabilities would just be too great. The days of pushing the envelope on these injuries are over. If Bergeron plays, I'm fully confident that he's 1,000 percent able to do so.

Felgy,On Monday night's "Late Edition," you kept peppering Gary Tanguay -- the man who seems to have a new pair of glasses every show -- with the "apparently you don't agree with Doc" line in reference to the Perk trade. Did you even hear or read what he said? His issue with the trade was the effect it had on the play calling, not the team's interior defense. In turning over so many players, the playbook was rendered outmoded. That's a subtle point, but it's a far different one than "we lost to Miami because we didn't have Perk."Thanks,GregManchester, NH

If Doc thought the Perk trade didn't impact the Miami series, then why did he say he wishes it was done after the season? I'll say the same thing to you I said to Gar-Bear:

Give it up. The verdict is in. Danny blew it.

Mike,G-Dick polishes off the Celtics' ball bag for his end-of-season rap session with Ainge and asks the question, "Not me, Danny, but others have questioned the toughnes-" . . . Before he even got the second "s" out Danny asks, "How do you think that makes KG feel?"Huh? Did you just dismiss the impact of Perk's toughness to explore the effect on KG's FEELINGS? Who cares about bleeping feelings? And how dare Ainge act repulsed, as if soft is somehow a misnomer for his team both mentally and physically? Your own coach, who you trusted enough to give a five-year extension, called the team soft for the first time I can remember in four years following the Perk trade. So if you want to know how it makes KG feel to find out Perk was a big part of what made them tough, just ask Doc, and then get back to me.In the other part of his Perkins trade defense, Danny lists Krstic and Big Baby playing well as reasons they did the deal. Excuse me, Danny, but did you just list a guy that came over in the Perkins trade as though he was playing for you already and was the reason you felt comfortable trading Perk away? And when did Big Baby look good this year? This guy lost a preseason backyard wrestling match last year and it's been all downhill from there.This is a bad joke wrapped in an unbelievable farce and someone should mention two things to Ainge:1. When G-dick asks the questions and then is simultaneously answering with you, it gives the whole interview all the credibility of a Piper's Pit segment.2. Even though it is just G-dick interviewing him, the crazy fiction he is spinning goes out over the interweb, where it is viewed by people who are not in the ball bag and don't have the words "Absolutely, Danny" ready to spill off their tongue at first prompt.JakeBoston

I'd contact Dickerson for a response, but he's currently busy waxing Danny's car.

Felger,I hate agreeing with you on anything. But it's time to resurrect the "fraud" comment you threw at Borges, only this time at Tanguay. I want to hear it! Right on the air: "Gary, you are a FRAUD!!!"Really, the only Green Teamers who say "Miami was just better" are Gary and Dickerson. These were the same two dopes that said because the Celtics got to the finals as a No. 4 seed last year, home court didnt matter. Of course it matters! Its the ultimate equalizer in the NBA, more than any other sport. The Celtics lost to a bunch of scrub teams down the stretch. If they beat two of them, they were probably playing Game 7 at HOME. If you lose that, THEN you say the other team was better.There is nothing more pathetic than the sycophant who says, "They were better." Do you think the Lakers fans are sitting home saying Dallas was better? It's like politics, Mike. When ideology and allegiance clouds your judgment or forces you to spout talking points that we know are not true, youre nothing more than a cheerleader. If thats the case, then dont call yourself an objective analyst. Say, "Hey, I am working for the team so I am going to exclude myself from the discussion." This actually is a problem with your whole industry. Youre all so dependent on these teams for money, ratings etc., that you sell your soul. GeorgeWoburn

I'd contact Gary for a response, but he's currently busy picking up Doc's dry cleaning.

Felger,I love when you have experts on your Sports Sunday show and you ask them questions and then answer them yourself, e.g., KPD. You asked him this long, drawn-out question then answered it yourself and he spoke for, maybe, five seconds before you started talking again. You should just get a ventriloquist dummy and you can talk the entire time.Unsigned

I gave him five whole seconds? It's usually not that long. I'm losing my touch.
Read Felger's weekly column on Mondays. Email him HERE and read the mailbags on Thursdays. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.