Seguin starts to 'get it' as season winds down

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Seguin starts to 'get it' as season winds down

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins are going through their worst stretch of the season, saddledwith road-weary legs after playing 12 of their last 16 games away from home.But through it all, Tyler Seguin is playing some of thebest hockey of his rookie season.

The grueling stretch has clearly had an effect on some of the older players like 43-year-oldMark Recchi (two points and a minus-2 in the last 10 games). But Seguin has been energized, witha goal and six shots on net in his last two games.

The 19-year-old has earned some power play time from coach Claude Julien in each of the last two games, and Seguin was easily Bostons best forward on the ice during the loss to Toronto Saturday night. He also impressively shook off a Patric Hornqvist elbow to the head in the first period against Nashville, and kept skating hard despite seven stitches to his left ear.

Its allbeen part of the natural progression for the Bs rookie.Seguin knows that good, consistent, competitive performances can mean helping his team and getting a better chance to crack the playoff lineup for Boston.He's way past Steve Stamkos comparisons and first-year point projections, and simply wants to add to the B's winning side of the ledger.

Its about finding what role youre going to have in this league and going after it, said Seguin. Im trying to get it whether its being involved in the play, or hitting and finishing checks just a little bit more. I think Im still just trying to find my way and do my best.

I know I still have a lot more in me. I have a ton to learn. Ive always been a statistical person and I know I can get a lot more points. But its been a slow process and Ive had some ups and downs. Its getting to crunch time in the season and I want to show everybody that Im ready to be here in the end. I want to win and want to have a championship, even if its in my first year. I want to be a part of that.

Seguin knows he wont be winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, or putting up gaudy first-yeartotals like Logan Couture or the now-injured Taylor Hall. But, conversely, there arent many lottery level draft picks witha legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup.
The understanding of team concept over individual accomplishments normally doesnt register with young players establishing themselves in the league. But Seguin has been an exception to the rule for many things, andhe understands what his team requires. There was actually a head-scratching column in the Edmonton Journallast month that took Seguin to task for putting team goals ahead of individual stuff like the Calder Trophy -- and seemed to have a problem with the youngster because he had his priorities in line.

It didnt happen overnight, of course -- there were long stretches with little progress early in the season -- but Julien gave Seguin a ringing endorsement recently that the rookie is really beginning to get things. And Seguin's mindset simply proves that his first-year progress has been a success, and continues to improve with each passing day.

Hes slowly getting better, said Julien. The things weve been working on with him are starting to pay off. Hes competing a little better, and when you compete a little better in certain areas then your skill level begins to take over.

The skill level we know is there, and its all about how he exposes it. I think he exposed it by competing in certain areas and making sure he has the puck on his stick. He has to play with the puck, and I think hes been a lot better with regard to that.

Some of Seguins transformation over the last month came on the heels of a pair of healthy scratches against the Canadiens and Red Wings in big Februarygames. The message from the coaching staff was received loud and clear by Seguin; he's stepped up his battle in every zone on the ice, and consequently becomestronger on and off the puck.

Nobody expectsSeguin to hammer players through the boards or turn into a Milan Lucic-style hitting machine, but that doesnt mean there arent players he can emulate while developing into a two-way center. The two registered hits against the Maple Leafs were eye-opening, consideringthathe understandably shied away from contact earlier this year.

Seguin is quick to say he aims to be his own player, but he's also smart enough to know that he can learn quite a bit from watching Patrice Bergeron go about his business.

Bergeron is the consummate two-way center in the defensive and offensive ends of the ice, and thats the kind of player Seguin aspires to be.

I think my whole life Ive always wanted to be a good all-around player and a good leader, and Bergie is definitely all of those things, said Seguin. Bergeron isa very focused guy, and all of the guys in the room respect him for that. I think in the end you have to have your own game, so I dont want to be Patrice Bergeron. But everything he does is goodfrom theD-zone to his skill, and the way hes positioned on the PK and the PP. You can throw him in any situation, and thats who I want to be in the future.

Obviously Im not 220 pounds, so when some of the bigger boys finish their checks then I might fall down. But I want to be more involved. I want to take anything I can get, and I want to win.

The first step to becoming a winning player is actually learning what it takes to win, and it seems that Seguin is getting it at the tail end of an eucational first season in the NHL.

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

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

There’s been smoke for weeks signaling trade talks between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, and things are reportedly heating up with the Bruins potentially reaching a tipping point with their subpar play on the ice. According to Bleacher Report columnist Adrian Dater, things may be progressing between the two teams because the Bruins are beginning to entertain the idea of trading away 20-year-old top pairing rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Bruins Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. was expected to be out in Colorado scouting the Avalanche/Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, and perhaps getting a long look at players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie among others.

The expectation is that 24-year-old Landeskog is in the middle of these trade discussions, and that he would be one of the players targeted by a Bruins team that could use more size on the wing, and more players that can put the puck in the net. Certainly Landeskog has done that in his brief NHL career after being a No. 2 overall pick, and has four 20-goal seasons on his resume prior to a disappointing, injury-plagued current season in Colorado.

The word around the league was that talks fizzled between the Bruins and Avs previously when Joe Sakic asked about the availability of the Colorado Springs native Carlo, and those discussions hit the same crunching roadblock that Winnipeg did in discussions with Boston about Jacob Trouba.

Perhaps that has changed in the last 24 hours after Cam Neely and Don Sweeney watched their Bruins completely no-show against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders, on Monday afternoon. Now one would expect that Bruins management is getting desperate feeling that a third “Did Not Qualify” for the Stanley Cup playoffs could be in their future if they don’t make a bold, swift move to shake up their dazed hockey club.

But let’s not pull any punches here. The entire Bruins management group should be fired on the spot if they trade a 20-year-old, top pairing shutdown defenseman on an entry level contract like Carlo unless they are getting a bona fide superstar in return. Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak should all be young, untouchable assets for a Bruins organization that is years away from legitimately holding a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Landeskog is not a bona fide superstar. He’s a good player that’s topped out at 26 goals and 65 points in the NHL, but he’s also the Captain on a horrendous, underachieving Avalanche team over the last three years.

If the price were right for Landeskog it would make all the sense in the world for the Bruins to deal him, but it’s a giant honking red flag that Colorado is looking to unload a player like him that’s signed for a reasonable $5.5 million price tag over the next four seasons. Teams don’t trade young players like that with term unless there’s more to the story, and that’s something the Bruins would do well to consider before giving up a player that could be a top-4 shutdown defenseman in Boston for the next 10 years.

Teams like the Bruins that are in reloading mode also shouldn’t be trading 20-year-old players for 24-year-old players that have already cashed in on their second contract. That’s exactly how the Bruins can get right back into salary cap trouble, and do it with a team that’s producing far less than the Peter Chiarelli groups that were at least still making the playoffs.  

Certainly the Bruins have other young D-men like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon coming down the pipeline, but none of those defensemen are in the mold of a true shutdown D like the 6-foot-5 Carlo. With Zdeno Chara in the final few years of his career with the Black and Gold, the B’s are going to need Carlo to slide into that defensive stopper role given his size, strength, wing span and willingness to do the dirty work the D-zone.

That goes beyond the simple fact that rebuilding the back end with ALL of those young stud D-men is the best way to actually build the Bruins back up into a legitimate Eastern Conference power. 

It would be a giant mistake for the Bruins to ship away a player like Carlo with the hope Landeskog can put Boston over the hump for the playoffs this season, and perhaps ease some of the intense pressure currently weighing on Sweeney and Neely. That kind of desperate move smacks of doing it for all of the wrong reasons, and that’s one way to ensure that the Bruins will never escape the web of mediocrity that they’re currently caught in. 

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season.