Seguin ready to take on more


Seguin ready to take on more

By Joe Haggerty

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 Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.