Notes: Seguin, Hall still feeling growing pains


Notes: Seguin, Hall still feeling growing pains

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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

BOSTON -- For a team where offense has been a major problem area this season, lighting the lamp four times against the Florida Panthers on Monday night was a welcomed sight for the Bruins indeed.

The Bruins won it in dazzling fashion with a 4-3 overtime win on a David Pastrnak rush to the net after he totally undressed D-man Mike Matheson on his way to the painted area, and then skill took over for him easily beating Roberto Luongo with a skate-off goal.

That was the game-breaker doing his thing and finishing with a pair of goals in victory, and continuing to push a pace that has the 20-year-old right wing on track for more than 40 goals this season.

That would give the Bruins just their fourth 40-goal scorer in the last 25 years of franchise history (Glen Murray in 2002-03, Bill Guerin in 2001-02 and Cam Neely in 1993-94), and mark one of the bigger reasons behind an expected offensive surge that may just be coming for a Black and Gold group currently ranked 23rd in the league in offense.

They just hope that the four strikes vs. Florida is indeed a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the season after serving as just the eighth time in just 26 games this season that they scored more than two goals.

“[There have been] a lot of tight games and low-scoring games, you’re right. It’s good, but as a goalie, I’m not happy when I let in three goals, ever. But it’s great to see that scoring support,” said Tuukka Rask. “When you get four goals, you expect to win, and a lot of times when we get three, I expect to win. It’s great to see [an uptick in scoring].”

So what is there to be optimistic about from a B’s offensive perspective aside from Pastrnak blowing up for a couple more goals to keep pace among the NHL league leaders with Sidney Crosby and Patrick Laine?

Well, the Bruins are starting to see results from crashing to the front of the net, attacking in the offensive zone and finally finishing off plays after serving as one of the best puck possession teams in the league over the first few months.

Just look at how the goals were scored, and how the Bruins are working in closer to the net rather than settling for perimeter plays.

The first goal on Monday night was a result of Tim Schaller crashing down the slot area for a perfectly executed one-timer feed from David Krejci. Similarly David Pastrnak was hanging around in front of the net in the second period when a no-look, spinning Brad Marchand dish from behind the net came his way, and he wasn’t going to miss from that range against Roberto Luongo. Then David Backes parked his big body in front of the Florida net in the third period, and redirected a Ryan Spooner shot up and over Luongo for the score that got the Bruins into overtime.

It’s one of a couple of goals scored by Backes down low recently, and his third goal in the last five games as he heats up with his playmaking center in Krejci. The 32-year-old Backes now has seven goals on the season and is on pace for 26 goals after a bit of a slow start, and the offense is coming for that line as they still search for balance in their two-way hockey play.

“A few more guys are feeling [better] about their games, and know that we’re capable of putting a crooked number up like that. It bodes well moving forward,” said Backes. “But you can’t think that we’re going to relax after the effort that we put in. We’ve got to skill to those dirty areas and still get those second and third chances, and not take anything off during those opportunities. It’s got to go to the back of the net.

“With the way Tuukka has played, and our defense has been stingy and our penalty kill has been on, four goals should be a win for our team. It hasn’t always been easy for us this year. It’s been a process, but I think you’re starting to see the things that you need to see in order for us to score goals. We’re going to the front of the net and getting extended offensive zone time, and then you find a few guys like Pasta in the slot. That’s a good recipe for us.”

Then there’s Ryan Spooner, who enjoyed his best game of the season on Monday night and set up the B’s third goal of the game with his speed and creativity. It was noticeable watching Spooner play with his unbridled skating speed and creative playmaking, and it made a discernible difference in Boston’s overall offensive attack against Florida. It’s something that Claude Julien is hoping to see more of moving forward from Spooner after recent trade rumors really seemed to spark the 23-year-old center, and also knocked some of the inconsistency from a player that’s extremely dangerous offensively when he’s “on.”

“It’s obvious that if Ryan wants to give us those kinds of games, then we have lots of time for him. When he doesn’t we just can’t afford to give him that kind of ice time,” said Julien. “There are games where he hasn’t been as involved, and it’s obvious and apparent to everybody that when he’s not getting involved then he’s not helping our team. When he is playing the way he did yesterday, we can certainly use that player more than not. We’d love to see him get consistent with those kinds of games.”

So while it’s clear the Bruins aren’t completely out of the woods offensively and there are still players like Patrice Bergeron sitting below their usual offensive numbers, it’s also been a little mystifying to watch Boston struggle so much offensively given their talent level.

The Black and Gold fully realized that potential in taking a tough divisional game from Florida on Monday night, and they hope it’s something to build on as the schedule doesn’t let up at all in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Dave Dombrowski is collecting stars and talent over at Fenway Park. I dig it.

*Interesting piece about switching teams in the NHL and leaving behind old allegiances when the job calls for it.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Harvey Fialkov looks at the connections between the Bruins and the Florida Panthers, and more specifically with the Panthers and the Boston-area.

*A rumor round-up across the NHL including the humorous nugget that the Bruins are looking to move Jimmy Hayes. Yes, they are looking to move Hayes. They are begging some other NHL team to take on the player and the contract for somebody that has one point since last February. It’s not happening.

*Escrow is at the heart of the next negotiation between the NHL and the NHLPA, and I really thought it was going to be years before I’d have to even think about the CBA again.

*Tough break for the Florida Panthers losing Keith Yandle for a long period of time after he was injured last night vs. the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has the story at Pro Hockey Talk.

*Wild coach Bruce Boudreau talks his “bucket list”, which includes a lot of movies and even a stint as a movie reviewer for the Manchester Union Leader back in the day.

*Sounds like Pat Maroon might want to sit out the next few plays after calling hockey a “man’s game” among other things.

*For something completely different: Yup, I’m pretty okay with the Red Sox blowing up the prospect cupboard for Chris Sale.