BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin has heard it countless times throughout his first year plus with the Bruins.
The Bs puck prodigy has been consistently told to watch the way Patrice Bergeron moves with and without the puck, to study the way No. 37 competitively takes face-offs and remains up high to support his defensemen in the offensive zone, and to note the centers lead-by-example style and unmistakable maturity that have always led most to believe hes much older than 26 years old.
It seemed only natural that Seguin the makeshift winger and Bergeron the two-way center should have been paired together at some point in their careers. The time is now, and its been a prolific connection since they were dropped on the same forward line.
Offensively Bergeron is good, but defensively hes one of the best two-way players in the league, Claude Julien said. To play on Bergerons line Tyler is going to have to play against many of the other teams big lines. If Seguin wants to run with him and play on that line, then he needs to be reliable that way. It really forces him to also become a great two-way player.
Patrice is also one of our hardest workers, and to keep up with Bergie youre going to have to be a hard worker. So it really is making Seguin a better player in that way.
Bergeron has always been an underrated offensive force for the Bruins given his defensive prowess. But hes also the only player on the Bs roster aside from Milan Lucic thats scored 30 goals before in an NHL season so the potential is there.
As much as people are fixated on the high standard of play Bergeron can hold Seguin accountable to, there is also some good the youngster can bring to Bergerons world.
That makes it the kind of symbiotic hockey relationship that can stand the test of time, and produce effective results.
Certainly when Bergie gives him the puck its going to end up in the net oftentimes, said Julien. Throughout the years he hasnt always had the luxury of playing with those dynamic offensive players, but hes been paired with hard-working guys. At the end of the night youd see all the work theyd do in the offensive zone without getting rewarded, but Bergie has a good chance right now with a player thats going to help him in that area.
The duo has teamed together for six goals in four games since Seguin was slotted in at the right wing. Theyve looked just as dynamic to the naked eye as they have on the stat sheet with tape-to-tape passes and rushes up the ice that strike right at the heart of opponents defenses.
Theres a connection between those two forward forces skating together and the Bruins jumping from 20th in the NHL in goals scored per game to sixth. Seguins offensive instincts and unique ability to create plays on the ice with rare hockey vision dovetails with Bergerons long-underrated hands, shot and ability to finish off plays when put in the position to score.
Since Claude Juliens arrival in Boston, Bergerons biggest role has been as the epicenter of a super-checking line expected to hold down the other teams best forward groups while kicking in some offense as side benefit. It became a little more than that last season when Marchand found a permanent spot on Bergerons left side, and now the center has his young, speedy, skilled winger on the other side as well.
The right wing spot now inhabited by Seguin was previously manned by marginal offensive talents like Chuck Kobasew, Marco Sturm and an aging Mark Recchi among others. They brought different strengths to the table that complimented Bergeron nicely, but Seguin is elite in a way that only Recchi could have understood when he wore a younger mans clothes.
The new results have been spectacular, and Bergeron has been a big beneficiary as hell continue to be as long as the current line combinations stay together. Bergeron has six points on the strength of five assists all of which have gone toward Seguin goals in four games since getting teamed with Seguin along with a plus-5 and nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game.
Bergeron is the type of player that you get amazed by a little bit, said Seguin. In our defensive end hes so good and thats where I want to be in a few years.
The duo put on a show for a national Canadian audience when they combined for three goals against the Leafs while stunning Octobers best hockey team, the Leafs, last weekend. It was also an alert precision pass from Bergeron to Seguin cutting toward the net against the Islanders that helped knock the wind out of New York in true quick-strike form.
Theres no reason to believe that cant keep up, and its got both forwards excited about the possibilities.
Bergeron smirked when asked about what it could mean for him offensively to have a nice, long run with an offensive force of nature like Seguin. Hes clearly having a good old time racking up points and wins as any hockey player would be. Too often in the past Bergerons linemates couldnt match his speed, hands and hockey IQ on the ice, but hes enjoying talented wingers like Seguin and Marchand for as long as it lasts.
Bergeron is on pace to put up his first 70 point season since prior to the horrific concussion four years ago that nearly ended his career, and he's once again putting together all the pieces to a dominant all-around game.
There are plays weve worked on a lot of practice. I like to get Seguin the puck when he gets open and he does a good job of moving without the puck to get himself open, said Bergeron of the chess match on the ice that they seem to be playing at a higher level right now. Its nice. Hes got the speed that catches defensemen off guard because of it. Youve got to respect it and back off to give me more space in the middle.
We need to keep talking and keep communicating because thats how you build chemistry. There is always improvement to make, but so far so good.
Its been a lot more than good.
The pairing of Bergeron and Seguin as a 1-2 scoring combination is the best thing thats happened offensively to the blue collar Bruins in a long time.