By Joe Haggerty
RALEIGH The final outcome was underwhelming and undesirable, but it wasnt a complete washout for the Bruins, either.
Sure, they fell behind 2-0 before truly getting things going and dropped to 1-3 on the season with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes in their RBC Center home. But Tyler Seguin did snag his first goal of the season, and manned the center position adeptly between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton while helping to spur on their best games of the season to date.
Both Lucic and Horton had multiple Grade A scoring chances, all three forwards topped 20 minutes of ice time for the first time this season, teamed up for a goal and unloaded 10 shots on net in a positive step in the right direction. Seguin played a career-high 20:08 of ice time against the Hurricanes, and his linemates liked what they saw in the second-year package of hockey skills.
Seguin played pretty well, said Lucic. Especially on that second shift in the first period where we got on them and there was an unlucky bounce for me when I hit the side of the net. He was skating well, he was getting open and he was in the right spot. Thats something he learned last year as a player was where to go, and hes able to get himself open.
For me and Horton, that was probably our most effective game where we were creating opportunities and we had lots of time in the offensive zone. Thats good, and the one goal we created was also good, but we had a lot of offensive chances and weve got to bear down on more of them.
The straw that really stirred the drink was the 19-year-old Seguin, however, as he glided through the Carolina defense with speed and precision looking to make plays and then turned into a stone cold goal-scorer when allowed a sliver of space in the third period. The 'Canes had just scored their second goal of the game an Anthony Stewart hard-hat special in front of the net and thats when the Bs top line started showing the urgency and snarl thats been missing in the early going.
Adam McQuaid wound the puck up the ice with speed, found Horton as he criss-crossed through the neutral zone with Seguin and then Horton fed the teenager a pass while in strong skating stride. Seguin simply used his speed to create separation with the defenseman, and then snapped a top shelf wrist shot over Cam Wards glove hand after watching the goalie begin to cheat away from the near post.
I went wide, saw Looch going hard to the net and at the last minute decided to go short side when he was sliding over a little bit, said Seguin.
The goal was a thing of beauty for Seguin, a sign of life for the Bruins, Hortons first point of the season and exactly the kind of promising sign Claude Julien was hoping for when he slotted Seguin with his two bookend power forwards.
The Bs coach isnt expecting miracles and wasnt doing handstands in a game that the Bruins lost, but he admitted hes seeing improvement in the No. 1 line that carried them so much last year.
They had some great opportunities, said Julien of the top line, thrown together Wednesday due to David Krejcis injury. We just didnt seem to be at the top of our game. Youre seeing the effects of some players that havent found their game, and its frustrating because everybody is coming hard at us. Seguin was one of the guys that scored a goal for us. It was his first game skating with Lucic and Horton and I think he did a good job for us.
Its not about one guy, though. If the whole line finds a way to play better as a whole, then theyll be more effective.
The Patrice BergeronBrad MarchandRich Peverley line wasnt as good as theyve been in the first three games, but they accounted for the teams second goal. Bergeron executed an impressive spin-o-rama cross-ice pass to Marchand for a successful one-timer, and a pass that Marchand will be raving about for years to come.
That was about it for observations about the newly configured forward lines aside from a Jordan Caron turnover in the slot area that turned into the third periods eventual game-winner for Jiri Tlusty during an otherwise non-descript 7:29 of ice time.
The big lesson learned while plugging in holes among the top 12 forwards: The Bruins have themselves a versatile commodity in Seguin, who has already moved between center and wing on the first and third line for the Bruins. The 19-year-old has four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in four games thus far and appears comfortable and functional in whichever spot hes dropped into moving forward.
The Bs boy wonder passed his first big exam of the season with flying colors, but there will be more difficult ones to come.