Bruins notes: Seguin's learning curve continues


Bruins notes: Seguin's learning curve continues

By Joe Haggerty

VANCOUVER Tyler Seguin dazzled in the opening few games of the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and showed exactly what all of the fuss was about.

No matter what happens for the rest of the playoff run, the four-point second period in Game Two against Tampa Bay will go down as the first real moment Seguin had during his Bruins career. The problem with having those kinds of moments: people come to expect them much more often.

Seguin has gone scoreless in the six games since putting on a show against the Lightning in Game Two, and registered the lowest ice time total of his playoff experience in Game One of the Cup Finals against the Canucks. The 19-year-old got power play time and got a few shifts early in the game to get into the flow of things, but was nowhere to be found on the ice in the third period when things started tightening up against Vancouver.

Bs coach Claude Julien noticeably cut the ice time in a tight playoff game, so naturally the questions of Whats Wrong with Seguin? rolled around on Fridays media availability at the University of British Columbia practice facility.

The quick and easy answer from Julien: nothing at all aside from the normal learning process due a young player in his first playoff experience.

I don't think there's any specific reason. There are a lot of guys that have gone scoreless in those six games as well, said Julien. He's 19 years old. We don't expect him to carry our team on his back.

After the first two games in Tampa, they certainly were respectful of him a lot more than they were in the first two games, they realized the damage he could make happen. Good players have to find ways to fight through that. This is the opportunity that Tyler has to gain even more experience in regards to that.

The Bruins could definitely use another Seguin offensive explosion against a Canucks team that marks the fastest hockey team theyve encountered in the playoffs, and its that possibility that will keep him in the Boston lineup. Seguin wasnt a part of the four-minute power play in the first period that enjoyed some pretty solid pressure against Vancouver, but needs more than a minute of power play ice time to put together a scoring chance or two.

That will be Seguins challenge heading into Game Two, and Seguins teammates think he should be up to the ask if called upon.

He's handled it really well, said Milan Lucic. Obviously his situation is a lot different than mine being a second overall pick compared to me, who surprised a lot of people by just making the team. He had a lot of expectations coming in, a lot of people around him.

Our leadership group and our veteran players have helped him mature throughout the season. I think a sign of that was you see how he responded after sitting out the first two series of the playoffs. He was able to step in and play the way that he did. He was professional about it. He wasn't pouting that he wasn't in the lineup. He wasn't being a bad guy because he wasn't in the lineup. He understood what was going on. It's great to see him grow as a player and as a person, as an 18-year-old turning 19. Looking back how I dealt with it, it's kind of the same way.

No matter what happens over the next six games against the Canucks, the experience earned by Seguin in this playoff run will serve both him and the Bruins well for years and years to come.

The Bruins and Milan Lucic didnt seem to have a big problem with the big Dan Hamhuis hit in the second period of Game One that flipped Bostons power forward upside down on his way to the ice. It could have been a lot more dangerous had Lucic landed on his neck rather than his back, but instead Hamhuis was the player injured as a result of the collision.

It's the first time I've ever actually been hit like that and gone all the way over, said Lucic. It's obviously unfortunate for the Canucks that Hamhuis got hurt. If it was late, it was late. But you can't change anything from what happened in it.

Brad Marchand got speared near the benches in the second period and took a reactionary holding penalty in Game One against the Canucks that could have been costly. The Bs penalty kill managed to stymie the Vancouver power play, but both coach and player thats one mistake that cant be made too often in this series.

I think we have to be disciplined no matter what. Marchand is part of that too. Obviously the penalty he took wasn't a good penalty in Game One, said Julien. We know that's happened at times with Brad with the type of game that he plays. We certainly want him to improve in that area and minimize those kinds of things.

But he understands. He knows once he does it, he takes ownership for it.

We keep talking about discipline, even if we didn't let them score in the power-play last game, they still have a potent power-play. We have to make sure that our penalties are good ones and most set of times when they're good ones, you end up killing them.

Zdeno Chara said that part of the joy of being paired with Dennis Seidenberg during the playoffs is the endless endurance supply both players seem to have in common and the common conditioning practices that allow both to log high ice time minutes throughout the playoffs.

Perhaps its a European thing, or perhaps its just two players thoroughly dedicated to their craft.

Its very exciting. He's a very steady defenseman. He really picked up his game, especially offensively, logging a lot of minutes, playing all the situations, said Zdeno Chara. We are both same, I would say, as far as off-ice workouts. We like to do always extra, being fit. He's just one of those guys that's been really fun to play with.

Theres been a careful balance of give-and-take between work and rest for Milan Lucic during his time in Vancouver the Stanley Cup Final, and its been closely watched by the Bruins staff. The natural tendency would be to overwhelm a guy in his hometown with media requests and scores of interviews, but Lucic himself said hell be around Vancouver after the season is over to catch up those wanting to touch base with him.

I think it's a give-and-take. You have to understand that Lucic in his hometown. Certainly you want to please those people to a certain extent, but at the same time you don't want it to be a detriment to his preparation and rest and everything else, said Julien. Our media guys have done a pretty good job of balancing that out. He does a little bit of both: get the rest that he needs and does as much as he can to please the people from around here.

From the Bruins' P.R. department:

Black and Gold fever has hit the city of Boston with monster truck force, and that apparently includes the landmarks around the Hub starting this weekend. The Bruins and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) are proud to partner with OSRAM SYLVANIA, North America's leading lighting company, to light Boston's landmark Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge beginning Friday, June 3.

Forty-eight lights that line the Zakim Bridge will be converted to gold to celebrate the Boston Bruins participation in the Stanley Cup Final. The Zakim Bridge will remain gold throughout the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Final run.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks


Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.

3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems


Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.