Seguin, Hall timezones apart, but forever linked

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Seguin, Hall timezones apart, but forever linked

BOSTON -- One might have guessed Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin would live vastly different rookie experiences last season.

Theres a world apart between their situations after the talented duo was selected by the Oilers and Bruins, respecitively, in the 2010 NHL Draft a little less than 16 months ago at the Staples Center.

Even the keenest hockey observer couldnt have guessed how extreme the twinsituations would be in reality last season, however. Hall finished the season on the shelf with an ankle injury after a productive campaign for a cellar-dwelling Oilers group long on unfulfilled potential, and Seguin ended the season hoisting the Cup over his head along with his Bruins teammates.

Hall was ahead of Seguin statistically based partially on the freely available ice time and power-play reps in Edmonton. Seguin was getting a priceless hockey education skating with a talented bunch of teammates and learning at the feet of the prospect whisperer, Mark Recchi, while Hall was akin to a babe in the woods.

Seguin couldnt have drawn it up any better, and frankly he doesnt want to.

I havent given too much thought into what would have happened if I were in Edmonton or if Hall had ended up in Boston, said Seguin. I think that its what was meant to be. He definitely had a great year last year, and I was blessed enough to win the Cup at the end of the year so I had a pretty good year, too. Were just two guys in two different hockey towns.

The two supremely talented teens will enjoytheir second career NHL match-up Thursday night when the improved Oil roll into TD Garden amidst a long East Coast road trip, and hockey observers will get a chance to see both players facing off against each other on solid footing for the first time.

One game wont prove anything about which player is better, or which one will have the more accomplishedcareer when theyre both ready to call it quits. But it certainly gives a healthy glimpse as to where each elite youngforwardstands after being so closely bunched together leading up to the 2010 Draft.

TSN and other Canadian media outlets had their fun with the TaylorTyler shtick, and Seguin even admits some people in Boston actually mistakenly call him Taylor Hall to this day. Cant imagine many of those people are diehard hockey fans, given the household name each member of the Black and Gold tribe has become in Boston over the last six months, but it does speak to the hoopla that will always connect both youngsterswhile they operate on opposite ends of North America.

It also speaks to how quickly things can change.

In April, Edmonton was crowing about Halls rookie production (22 goals and 42 points)while Seguin was in the background playing a secondary role that relegated him to nonfactor status on many regular seasonnights in Boston. It also saw him begin the postseason on the bench as a healthy scratch.But all that changed once the playoffs hit, and Seguin had his Game 2 explosion against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals that ploppedhim rightback on everybodys radar.

Seguin has 8 goals and 15 points for the Bruins in 13 games thus far in his second year, and has quickly become the focal point of Bostons offense. Seguin is also leading the NHL with a plus-11, and has gained the trust of coach Claude Julien in all game situations including the closing shift in one-goal games. Hall, meanwhile, has three goals and nine points along with a plus-3 in 13 games, and has tailed off slightlyin his last few contests according to Oilers coach Tom Renney.

More interestingly thesensitive Edmonton Oilers PR staff began shooing away reporters yesterday asking Hall about the TaylorTyler saga after onlya handful of questions in the 19-year-olds first trip to Boston. Nothing like professional PR people making a harmless situation seem troublesome, and in doing so bungling a media scrum like a first-year team out of the East Coast Hockey League.

But it does also speak to the attention both players received around the draft a bright spotlight Seguin still remembers along with the auto-pilot answers he harbored for any questions thrown his way about the rivalry between the two players.

It was crazy. It does seem like a long time ago. There are a lot of memories TaylorTyler thing that lasted in the media for four or five months, said Seguin. It was a long time ago, but its also something that you dont forget.

Hall, meanwhile, admitted that perhaps he was a little too uptight about all of the draft hoopla as it was going on, and plans on enjoying the challenge of playing Seguin and the Stanley Cup champs.

Perhaps thats why the Edmonton traveling staff still treats Hall like a hockey newborn when it comes to answering simple questions about a rivalry with Seguin that brings a littlecolor and popto the NHL.

We both did a pretty good job of handling that, said Hall while recalling the hype machine that surrounded both players vying to be the No. 1 overall pick. When I think back to the TylerTaylor' thing, I was a little bit stressed about it when I really shouldnt have been. Its just a stage in our careers.

It was a draft that picks where you go and you continue your career from there. I think weve both taken different paths . . . obviously in Seguin winning a Cup and us last year we were a lot different. But in the end its all going to work out.

While the chances are that it will work out for both young hockey stars and perhaps Hall along with The Nuge and Jordan Eberle will get the Cup back to Edmonton for the first time since the glory days of the Oilers it remains to be seen how things ultimatelywork out for the two young studs taken with those first two selections in the 2010 draft.

Thankfully there are plenty more young stars in the NHL galaxy for each of them to compare themselves with, and there isnt much more demand for the TaylorTyler soap opera to continue with the draft now firmly in the past. There will still surely be a little extra spring in the step of both talented forwards each time they suit up against each other for the next 15 years.That is part of Hall and Seguin's hockeylegacy whether they embrace it or not.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury. 

Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin