By Joe Haggerty
EDMONTON For quite a while, there was a lot of hype surrounding Sunday, February 26 once Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin went 1-2 in the NHL draft.
The Boston Bruins would be traveling to Edmonton, and the thinking was that both players might be ready to put on a show by this point in their rookie years.
Well, as it often does, the hype didnt measure up in living color for either of the rookies.
Hall is having a solid first season, getting plenty of ice time with the downtrodden Oilers and receiving ample room to make first-year mistakes without any worry of consequences or potential benching.
Seguin, on the other hand, has been a part of a well-established veteran group making a push for the playoffs and his education has been slow and gradual, with advances and regressions mixed in with some explosion of talent.
Some are viewing Hall as more successful than Seguin based solely on the numbers, but thats foolhardy given the differences in their situations.
Hes been good, Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Seguin. I think those comparisons are just a lot of bull . . . I think if Tyler is here in Edmonton hed get as much as ice time as Taylor is now, and it would be different . . . .
Hall has also been in World Juniors and has been a part of a couple of Memorial Cups, and he has a bit more experience in that. I always like to give guys four or five years to really get their feet wet, and find out which way they go.
Sunday's game was an exercise in frustration for Hall, who was pounded by the rough Bruins defense and held without a shot in 19:52 of ice time while getting saddled with a minus-2 and a pair of giveaways with the puck.
At one point Hall got so flustered by the rough treatment that he tried to deck both Steve Kampfer and Dennis Seidenberg before getting called for an elbowing penalty.
They're big, they're fast and they work hard. More than anything, I think, it's their work ethic and their speed, said Hall. This whole year is about learning and there's a lot to learn about how to play against big, hardworking guys like that.
Seguin managed a pair of shots on net and a blocked shot that had him limping around the Bs dressing room after the game, and also finished with a minus-1 in 9:32 of action.
As has been the case on most nights this season, Seguins team came out on top while Halls team was left looking for a chance to redeem themselves the next time out.
I thought we were able to stay consistent through a full 60 minutes," Seguin said. "They stayed in there, they had their chances, but we were able to pull through.
Its a lot different now. Were NHL teams trying to win a game where last year we were with the Plymouth Whalers and Windsor Spitfires chasing each other for a Memorial Cup and a junior hockey scoring title.
Perhaps next season when the Oilers and Bruins meet up again, the hype and the reality of Hall and Seguin will make it much more appropriate one-on-one battle.
Both Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly notched their first points as members of the Bruins, with Peverley scoring a goal in front of the Edmonton net after receiving a deft pass from Michael Ryder in the slot area. Peverley said it was nice to get the first goal out of the way with the Bruins, and that chemistry is building with each game.
"Each game it just gets better offensively, said Peverley. We know where each of us is going to be on the ice and where to go. Hopefully it just gets better & better."
Andrew Ference was out with a lower body injury against the Oilers, but Julien indicated Ference wasnt likely to be sent home early during the road trip a sign that the injury isnt all that serious.
Both Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand dropped the gloves in the third period against Andrew Cogliano and Jim Vandermeer, respectively, and the LucicVandermeer bout was a memorable one with plenty of heavy punches thrown.
Lucic said the first few shots hit him in the helmet, but it didnt take long for the left winger to get invested and angry in the fight as he got stronger while the bout went along. The Bs leading goal-scorer has less than a handful of fights this season, so its pretty clear hes trying to get his punches in when he does decide to finally drop the gloves.
"I was just trying to hold my fists tight there and throw as hard as I could, said Lucic. It ended up being a good fight, there.
The fight for Marchand was his first career NHL fighting major.
The Bs have won nine straight against the Oilers, dating back to 2000.
The win over Edmonton was a big homecoming for Johnny Boychuk, who was playing his first career NHL game in Rexall Place after growing up just 10 minutes away. Boychuk has skated plenty of times at the Edmonton rink, but was excited playing in his hometown.
The Boychuk family, including his parents and siblings, traveled to watch the Bs defenseman play in both Calgary and Edmonton during the road trip through Alberta.