Haggerty: Seguin breaks through at just the right time

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Haggerty: Seguin breaks through at just the right time

WASHINGTON Tyler Seguin normally has the smirking confidence of a youngster who's used to achieving whatever he sets his mind to.

He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft, he won the Stanley Cup as a rookie, he developed into an All-Star forward in his second year, and he finished his sophomore season leading the Bruins in goals scored and points.

But even the gifted 20-year-old struggles at times, and that was never more true than during the Bruins' first-round series against the Washington Capitals.

Heading into Sunday's Game 6, Seguin was riding a 16-game playoff goal-scoring drought. He was shying away from the battle areas on the ice, and hadnt registered a single point in the first five games of the series against Washington.

But that all ended Sunday.
In the third period, he stripped a Capitals player of the puck near the blue line and zinged a shot off Braden Holtby.The play created a rebound that bounced to Andrew Ference, and -- after Ference fired the puck into the open side of the net -- Seguin had his first playoff point of the year.
And then he scored his first playoff goal of the year -- and sent the teams back to Boston for Game 7 -- when, afterDavid Krejci stole the puck from Nicklas Backstrom three minutes into the OT session and got it over to Milan Lucic, Seguin took a pass from Lucic and streaked all alone toward the net.He waited until Holtby committed himself and left his skates, then swept the puck around him and deposited it into the net for the game-winner.

It was a moment of sweetness that made up for two weeks of offensive struggle while his team couldnt rub two goals together in the tightest of first-round playoff series games.

I think in this series weve had a lot of chances and opportunities and I havent been bearing down and finishing them off, said Seguin. Its just really nice to get that feeling of finally getting one.
Seguin admits he sometimes gets a little frustrated when shots arent falling for him, but thats when he'll have a heart-to-heart talk with his road roommate for the last two years, GregoryCampbell.
Well, Im not a motivational speaker, said Campbell. Ive been roommates with him two years now and Ive developed a relationship where I could tell that he was extremely disappointed during the week. Hes a star player. Hes going to be the face of the franchise sooner rather than later. He cares a lot and the growing pains have been there for the last two seasons.

He put together a lot of points for us, but everybody expects so much out of him. Hes had a giant bear on his shoulders out there in the playoffs.

Seguin didnt enjoy a game for the ages from beginning to end, but he started heating things up in the third period. The defensive play that set up Ference's goal was especially pleasing to coach Claude Julien.

Its a good point and we talked about that in the dressing room after the game. He made a great defensive play before we scored that go-ahead goal in the third, said Julien. Hes been a player thats grown, matured, and is understanding more and more of how important it is to play a good two-way game in the playoffs.

It was a moment of sweetness that made up for two weeks of offensive struggle while his team couldnt rub two goals together in the tightest of first-round playoff series games.

The Bs wunderkind wont always be the youngest guy out on the ice at all times, but is slowly earning the respect of even the crustiest hockey players with his determination to learn the game the right way and his ability to excel under pressure.

Tim Thomas called it Seguins coming out party as an NHL superstar after his Game 6 performance, and it is clearly another one of the great early chapters of a book thats going to be written with the Bruins for a very long time.

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

FOXBORO -- Resistance is futile. 

You see this team out there scampering around from drill to drill on a cloudy, late-July day, not a lollygagger to be seen, everything moving with military precision, and you know what it looks like? 

It looks like 80-something players and a coaching staff starting NFL training camp. 

What is it really? It's the first day of work for the NFL's greatest dynasty as it embarks on what will likely be a historic campaign. 

Never mind "may." Never mind "has a chance." It is LIKELY the Patriots will be the first team to ever win 19 games in a single NFL season. 

They don't want to hear that and are already dousing the thought of perfection by labeling it stupid, ridiculous, or disrespectful.

Between now and the start of the season, a parade of indignant former players, coaches and executives will snort and chortle at how absurd the conversation is. 

Frankly, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. 

That won't stop all of them from scoffing at the prospect of 19-0 the same way Curtis Strange scoffed at Tiger Woods back in 1996 when Woods said coming in "second sucks and third is worse." You'll learn, Strange said. 

Strange learned. Everybody learned. Maybe the experts should have seen it coming with Tiger. Maybe not. 

But with the 2017 Patriots, a failing to see what's likely to happen means willfully ignoring facts to do it. The Patriots went 17-2 last year. They lost to Buffalo because their third-string quarterback's thumb was dangling. They lost to Seattle on a night they handed the ball to the Seahawks repeatedly and still were at the Seattle 1-yard line with 30 seconds left with a chance to send the game to overtime but came away with nothing. 
 
They played poorly in the AFC Divisional Playoff against Houston and won by 18. They played "meh" against the Steelers in the AFC Championship and led 33-9 after three quarters. (Don't "But Le'Veon Bell" me. Would Le'Veon Bell have been covering Chris Hogan? No? Okay. Pay attention). 

In the Super Bowl, they spotted Atlanta -- a team being favorably compared to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams -- 25 points, and they wiped out that 25-point deficit in 23 minutes of play. 

Since they walked off the field in Houston, they added a Pro Bowl corner named Stephon Gilmore to play opposite their other Pro Bowl corner, Malcolm Butler. They added a wide receiver named Brandin Cooks, who caught 162 passes the past two seasons for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. And they will also unveil once again the best tight end of his generation, Rob Gronkowski. 

They have a head coach who is definitely the best of the free agency era, probably the best of the Super Bowl era and arguably the best of all time. Their quarterback has even fewer qualifiers around his greatness and legacy. 

The crème de la crème of the rest of the league is sludge. Smug Aaron Rodgers is tethered to the moon-faced buffoon in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, a head coach who could overcomplicate ordering coffee. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is fat and fresh off an offseason spent contemplating retirement and Ring Dings. The Cowboys' maturity issues start with their 70-something owner and cascade right down to their enabled superstars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Denver? Trevor Simien. Atlanta? Their motto this year is "Embrace the Suck." What does that even mean? That they enjoyed the Red Wedding that was the second half of the Super Bowl so much, they just want to roll around in humiliation for another year? Dear God. 

My point with all that is that there is no Peyton Manning out there to be the Frazier to Brady's Ali. And while there may be a coach out there with gray matter who could battle Belichick, that coach hasn't spent 18 seasons collecting assistants and coordinators and creating a program where they can tell a player to shit in the corner and the player asks, "What color?"

Don't fight it. Don't scoff at it. Don't be like those people who, in 2001 and 2002 were still saying Tom Brady was a product of the system and that the Patriots would rue the day they traded Drew Bledsoe within the division. Open your eyes. Think critically. What do you see.