Seguin ready to take on more

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Seguin ready to take on more

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Tyler Seguin knows every night wont be like his first in the playoffs.

The 19-year-old was on the ice for two of Tampa Bays goals early in the Game 1 loss against the Lightning, and that certainly need to be mentioned.

But Seguin also set Bruins Nation on fire with his speed, natural scoring instincts and lethal shot, all of which are missing ingredients on a team without a lot of high-end offensive talent when Patrice Bergeron is missing. Seguin may be an unfinished product after one year in the NHL, but he still holds the elite skill set that his more accomplished, experienced teammates will never quite have.

Coach Claude Julien said he shied away from using Seguin too much in Game 1 and kept him off the woeful power play because the Bruins wanted to give him the heady playoff experiences in little chunks. It almost sounded like a mama bird feeding a baby bird so it doesn't choke.

But after recording two points, and a couple of solid physical plays followingsome early game jitters, it looks like Seguin is ready for bigger pieces of icethan the two shifts and 1:51 of ice time he landed in the second period.

Despite the long rests between shifts in the middle 20 minutes, Seguin said he was keeping mentally focused on the game and staying positive no matter what was happening around him in a pressure-packed game.

I found myself a lot of time during the season getting more frustrated then I should have been, said Seguin. With being out of the lineup for the past month, you realize a bit more how grateful you should be just to be in the lineup with the boys, sharing that experience and being part of the team. So even though I was sitting there for a bit, I was still staying ready. I wasnt getting angry and negative. I was trying to stay as positive as I can.

Theres no telling what will happen with Seguin when Bergeron jumps back into the lineup, but hes making his case to stay right where he is.

Julien made the parallel between Seguin and Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk, who dazzled the Bruins in the second round of the playoffs. But van Riemsdyk sat at times during his rookie season, though he played a pretty complete 21 games during last years run to the Stanley Cup finals. It's not perfect, but it gives a view as to how the Bruins view Seguin's development path through his first season.

Seguin took part in some of the power-play drills before main practice on Monday, but he wasnt onone of the two power-play units that took the reps once things got moving.

Weve got different looks, weve got different players, said Julien. We want to make the power play work. Its never a bad thing to have those guys go through it. If at one point you need him, you need him. I said yesterday exactly what we wanted to do with Tyler. He hadnt played a playoff game yet, and you give him a little bit to chew, and then you give him maybe opportunities if need be in other areas.

But hes a young player that we care about and want to make sure that we develop him properly. Thats part of the decision weve made as an organization is not to rush him through anything . . .

"We understand the quality of player weve got, what he can bring and what hes going to bring in the future. Those are part of the things we keep doing with him and weve done with him all year: make him participate in all those areas where hes going to be hopefully a big factor for us in the future.

While Seguin certainly wasnt a go-to guy on a nightly basis while feeling his way through his first NHL season (11 goals, 11 assists, along with flashes of brilliance), its a bit of adifferent story in the playoffs.

The Stanley Cupplayoff are all about matchups and pairing strengths against weaknesses on the opposition, and Seguins blend of speed, skill and scoring melds in with the style of play against the speedy, skilled Lightning. Where Seguin might have been little more than wallpaper against the rugged, snarling Flyers, he fits right in against a Tampa team that features plenty of star power in Vinny Lecavalier, Steve Stamkos, Simon Gagne and Marty St. Louis, among others.

It was definitely a fast game I noticed from the first shift, just my first playoff shift, said Seguin. The speed and intensity was a lot greater than what I remember of the end of the season. I just tried to put that on my game, I try to use my speed, and it worked out in some plays.

In fact, its Stamkos that Seguin is most often compared to when his development is brought into focus over the course of his first season. Stamkos also started slowly as a rookie, but it didn't take long before he found his stride and finished strong in his rookie campaign. The 50 goal seasons followed shortlyafterward for Stamkos, and the Bruins can only hope Seguin gets on the same track.

Its flattering to hear the comparisons, said Stamkos. Sometimes they are unfair, but thats what the media does. You see his speed and you see his creativity, and his smarts and shot. If you come into this league and you have the great wheels like he does and the great shot, youre going to be successful.

He got an opportunity in Game 1 and he took advantage of it. Hes going to a great player in this league for a long time. I didnt play against him in the OHL, but I had some friends that did and said he was an unbelievable player. When you take a step back and realize that he was playing in the NHL at 18 years old . . . when you look at it that way, its remarkable. Sometimes you get caught up in putting so much expectations because you have the ability and the media puts a lot of pressure on as well . . . you can get caught up in that. I know what hes going through. But hes got so much skill that its only a matter of time before gets that full-time opportunity and thats all you can ask for as a young guy.

Seguin should once again get that opportunity to show more of that skill when the Bruins drop the puck for Game 2 at the Garden, and the rookie can only hope its a worthy encore performance.

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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold.