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

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

There’s been smoke for weeks signaling trade talks between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, and things are reportedly heating up with the Bruins potentially reaching a tipping point with their subpar play on the ice. According to Bleacher Report columnist Adrian Dater, things may be progressing between the two teams because the Bruins are beginning to entertain the idea of trading away 20-year-old top pairing rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Bruins Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. was expected to be out in Colorado scouting the Avalanche/Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, and perhaps getting a long look at players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie among others.

The expectation is that 24-year-old Landeskog is in the middle of these trade discussions, and that he would be one of the players targeted by a Bruins team that could use more size on the wing, and more players that can put the puck in the net. Certainly Landeskog has done that in his brief NHL career after being a No. 2 overall pick, and has four 20-goal seasons on his resume prior to a disappointing, injury-plagued current season in Colorado.

The word around the league was that talks fizzled between the Bruins and Avs previously when Joe Sakic asked about the availability of the Colorado Springs native Carlo, and those discussions hit the same crunching roadblock that Winnipeg did in discussions with Boston about Jacob Trouba.

Perhaps that has changed in the last 24 hours after Cam Neely and Don Sweeney watched their Bruins completely no-show against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders, on Monday afternoon. Now one would expect that Bruins management is getting desperate feeling that a third “Did Not Qualify” for the Stanley Cup playoffs could be in their future if they don’t make a bold, swift move to shake up their dazed hockey club.

But let’s not pull any punches here. The entire Bruins management group should be fired on the spot if they trade a 20-year-old, top pairing shutdown defenseman on an entry level contract like Carlo unless they are getting a bona fide superstar in return. Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak should all be young, untouchable assets for a Bruins organization that is years away from legitimately holding a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Landeskog is not a bona fide superstar. He’s a good player that’s topped out at 26 goals and 65 points in the NHL, but he’s also the Captain on a horrendous, underachieving Avalanche team over the last three years.

If the price were right for Landeskog it would make all the sense in the world for the Bruins to deal him, but it’s a giant honking red flag that Colorado is looking to unload a player like him that’s signed for a reasonable $5.5 million price tag over the next four seasons. Teams don’t trade young players like that with term unless there’s more to the story, and that’s something the Bruins would do well to consider before giving up a player that could be a top-4 shutdown defenseman in Boston for the next 10 years.

Teams like the Bruins that are in reloading mode also shouldn’t be trading 20-year-old players for 24-year-old players that have already cashed in on their second contract. That’s exactly how the Bruins can get right back into salary cap trouble, and do it with a team that’s producing far less than the Peter Chiarelli groups that were at least still making the playoffs.  

Certainly the Bruins have other young D-men like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon coming down the pipeline, but none of those defensemen are in the mold of a true shutdown D like the 6-foot-5 Carlo. With Zdeno Chara in the final few years of his career with the Black and Gold, the B’s are going to need Carlo to slide into that defensive stopper role given his size, strength, wing span and willingness to do the dirty work the D-zone.

That goes beyond the simple fact that rebuilding the back end with ALL of those young stud D-men is the best way to actually build the Bruins back up into a legitimate Eastern Conference power. 

It would be a giant mistake for the Bruins to ship away a player like Carlo with the hope Landeskog can put Boston over the hump for the playoffs this season, and perhaps ease some of the intense pressure currently weighing on Sweeney and Neely. That kind of desperate move smacks of doing it for all of the wrong reasons, and that’s one way to ensure that the Bruins will never escape the web of mediocrity that they’re currently caught in. 

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season.