Haggerty: A star is born

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Haggerty: A star is born

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON So this is what its like to witness the first strands of greatness.

Everybody remembers when the immortals of the Boston sports scene enjoyed their first moment that catapulted them into another level of stardom, and Tyler Seguin ownedhis on Tuesday night.

Roger Clemens fanning 20 Seattle Mariners. Tom Brady cooly leading the game-winning drive in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXXVI. Any number of Larry Bird performances during the 1979-80 season that triggered a Celtics turnaround from a 32-win team to an NBA contender . . . and then champion.

Cam Neely was certainly prolific once he arrived in Boston, and Ray Bourque was as solid as they come during his long career patrolling the blue line for the Bruins, but its been a long, long time since the Black and Gold have had a player quitelike Tyler Seguin.

Seguin is all about flash and offensive prowess. Tenacity. Skating speed. The natural-born ability to score goals and the swagger to make plays that can demoralize an opponent. Oh, and did we mention that the kid can shoot a puck with the best of them?

After a modest rookie year that resulted in 22 regular-season points, Seguin exploded for two goals and two assists in the second period of Bostons 6-5 win over the Lightning in Game 2 at TD Garden Tuesday night. His four-point night helped put away Tampa Bay . . . and was the first"Seguin moment" in thebuilding ofa legend. "Sitting for a long stretch of time and then coming in and having the impact he had is pretty great. Its neat to see. Were all happy for him," said veteran Mark Recchi. "Hes worked hard and hes learned a lot this year. He has grown and hes grown as a person and a player. He came out and he worked hard and he competed. He worked hard because he competed and thats a great thing."

The 17,000-plus fans at the Garden erupted with huge cheers each time he hopped over the boards. Ty-ler Se-guin chants reverberated through the building in the middle of his coming-out party in the second period. It was like nothing the Garden has seen in a long, long time during the playoffs, and it speaks to both the elite skill set and the honest-to-goodness heart on Seguin that ticks beneath his Black and Gold sweater.It was difficult to take in the middle 20 minutes of Boston's first conference final win in nearly two decades and not feel like a Bruins'star was born

He was extremely good tonight, theres no doubt about that, one of our best players out there," said coach Claude Julien. "And he used his speed very well tonight. He challenged their defensemen with it, did a great job.

"And it was nice to see him respond that way. Hes competed extremely well and hes been an excited individual waiting for his opportunity, and hes certainly making the best of it. Tyler Seguin obviously played without a doubt his best hockey of the season."

It was an energetic, electric performance that validated the Bruins' choice of Seguin with the No. 2 overall pick in last summers draft, and it also felt very much like the first game of the Tyler Seguin Era in Boston.

Things looked grim for the Bs when a Marty St. Louis goal off a Steven Stamkos play gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead with seven seconds left in the first period. But then came the Seguin Show, and it was worth the wait. It literally transformed the momentum of the game, and might have changed the complexion of the series given the circumstances and the timing.

The 19-year-old rookietook a long home-run pass from Michael Ryder that broke him loose through the neutral zone with tons of speed, similar to his first NHL goal in Prague back in early October. Instead of beating Dwayne Roloson low forehand, as hed done in Game 1 whilesplitting the defense, Seguin instead switched to an elevated backhand as the Lightning goalie hopelessly flailed ata puck destined for the back of the net.

Not only wasn't that it, it was just the beginning.

He kept right on pushing the broken plays at both ends of the ice, and turned a Tim Thomas save off a Ryan Malone breakaway into a stalwart offensive rush that finished with Nathan Horton feeding Seguin for a one-timer that Roloson didnt have a chance to stop. It was the kind of laser one-timer that only a select number of NHL players can finish off, and Seguin has those goods.

The B's rookiealso set up Bostons second power-play goal of the game -- equaling its total for the entire postseason -- when he finally got some special-teams trust from the coaching staff. That has been a long time coming.He rifled a puck off Ryder camped in front of the net, and Ryder managed to gather possession and flip a backhand shot past Roloson. Make that point No. 3 for Seguin on the night, and Exhibit A on what he could do with PP time after all of the talk about bringing him along slowly over the last few weeks. The howitzer shot and the passing feel on the man advantage are the kind of tools that power plays were made for.

Seguin capped off an amazing second period with his fourth point and second assist when he flipped a no-look, saucer pass to the slot that was gathered in by Chris Kelly in the middle of the ice, who then fed Ryder for the goal.

When it was over the Bruins had a 6-3 lead, and they held on for the victory that tied the series at 1-1.

And when it was over so was Tyler Seguin's time in hockey purgatory, a place of healthy scratches and worries of being sent to the World Junior tournament. In each of those instances during the season, Seguin responded strongly to the adversity by scoring a goal or playing strong, and revealed a little bit of what's to come for No. 19 in Boston.

"Whenever I face adversity, I always try to take a negative and turn it into a positive, said Seguin. "With me, I try to stay just focused on my game. If Im in my head and blaming people, Im not going to be playing well. I tried to stay positive the last 20 games this season, and these last two games Ive been trying to do that with whatever ice time I get and any opportunities. I just want to be ready and be prepared for them.

On this night, that preparation paid off in a performance no one will ever forget.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

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Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wrapping my brain around exactly what the heck the Bruins are doing.

-- In the shameless self-promotion department: Fred Toucher and yours truly did battle this morning over the $10 million contract that the Bruins handed out to Kevan Miller. Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

-- What do the Dallas Stars need in the 2016 NHL Draft, with the combine and draft both coming up just weeks away.

-- A nice tribute from Hockey Night in Canada to the Tragically Hip as their front man battles through terminal brain cancer.

-- Damien Cox puts together his Team Canada list for the World Cup of hockey. Check out Brad Marchand's line: He plays left wing with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin. That would be very fun to watch.

-- With the Bruins signing Kevan Miller to a bloated four-year, $10 million contract, similar defensemen like Eric Gryba will be lining up at the trough.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz weighs in on the Sharks run to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, and what a player like Joe Pavelski has meant to them in the postseason.

-- For something completely different: It sounds like things are getting a little strange with Marco Rubio.

Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

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Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

Fred Toucher and Joe Haggerty disagree about the new deal the Boston Bruins gave Kevan Miller and got in a heated debate Wednesday morning on Toucher & Rich.

Haggerty says the Bruins would be better off with "players on entry level deals" over Miller for the money he'll received.

Miller signed a four-year deal worth $10 million on Monday.

As for Toucher? Watch the video above for his response. Then comment below with your thoughts on the deal.

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

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Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

Peter Chiarelli may be long gone from Causeway Street, but his spirit lives on. 

If someone can explain to me the Bruins' fascination with bottom-of-the-roster veterans with average talent, then I'd love to hear it. I used to think it was the problem of Chiarelli, the B's former general manager. But now I have to wonder if it's just in the water down there. And current GM Don Sweeney is chugging it.

I have no other explanation for the team's decision to sign defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year (four!) extension worth $10 million yesterday. Miller is a nice role piece. But how that translates to four guaranteed years when he will turn 29 early next season and the Bruins have massive holes throughout their roster is beyond me. 

What's more, the B's already have nearly the identical player in Adam McQuaid, who is roughly the same age, same size, same shot (right), same injury history (poor) and plays the same role (bottom pairing, right side). McQuaid is a little less skilled than Miller, so of course, using Bruins logic, he makes a little more ($2.75 million). But McQuaid also got four years when he re-signed prior to last season.

Certainly, contracts worth $2-3 million annually aren't going to ruin your cap in a vacuum. But start adding them up you see how the Bruins got into trouble in the first place. Combine McQuaid and Miller's hits and you have $5.25 million of valuable space chewed up against the cap. Basically, that's the price of a solid, top-4 defenseman, which the Bruins need ten times more than a depth piece.

Scary. The Bruins currently don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 defensemen. (Sorry, Bruins writers, Zdeno Chara belongs on a second pairing right now.) Yet they have decided to lock themselves up with a pair of No. 6 guys who basically duplicate each other. Again, why do the B's continue to overpay the bottom of the depth chart when the top is so lousy?

It's one thing for Chiarelli to overcommit to the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, etc. Those guys at least helped you win a Cup and get to another final. From an emotional standpoint, you can explain those mistakes. But Miller? He's been a part of one of the worst defense corps in the league the last few years. He's been on a team that has failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons. How do you fall in love with that guy?

Please don't tell me that Miller would have gotten that contract on the open market. I mean, it's true; he probably would have. But what does that matter? Does that mean it's a good deal? Just because Colorado was willing to pay Carl Soderberg just under $5 million a season, does that mean the B's should have paid the middling centerman that money last year? Of course not. Use your head. Just because someone else gets stupid doesn't mean you have to.

You shudder to think what's coming next. Loui Eriksson is still out there as a pending free agent. Ditto for Torey Krug. On a good team, the former is a third liner and the latter is another third-pairing guy. Neither have been good enough to lift the B's above the playoff line the last two years despite playing prominent roles. Both are about to get overpaid on the market . . . unless the B's step in first and insist on being the team that gets stupid and overcommits first.

Given what we've seen with Miller, how can anyone be confident that the B's will be smart enough to pass? My confidence level on this is somewhere around 0.0.

Which is exactly how much cap space the B's will have left with this approach.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.