Bruins

Bruins' Seguin to start season on wing

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Bruins' Seguin to start season on wing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

Tyler Seguin led the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason and pried open plenty of doubting eyes along the way.

Its pretty clear the 19-year-old is going to get his chance to jump up and seize a much larger role with the Bruins in his second NHL season. That could be a very good thing for the Bruins as a more explosive Seguin goes a long way toward alleviating some of the Stanley Cup hangover discussion.

In fact Seguin might just be the greatest hangover cure since Gatorade and greasy food were entered into the equation.

It also appears that the journey toward NHL stardom for Seguin will start at the wing spot in his second season with the Bruins a fact that Claude Julien confirmed on Monday afternoon with the caveat that could evolve during the 82-game regular season.

Seguin will use his skating speed and searing shot to create scoring chances from all over the offensive end, and likely wont hit the middle unless injuries gnaw away at the center depth piled up with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly manning the pivot. The teenager has said often that his approach doesnt change offensively whether hes playing center or wing, but it wont be surprising if Seguin shoots the puck just a little more as a winger than he might have manning the pivot.

Perhaps that could be the difference between 15 goals or 25 goals for Seguin if hes given the power play time and ice time hes made it a mission to earn this season.

Youre probably going to see a little bit of center and wing from him, said Julien when asked specifically about Seguins position. Youve got to look at what we have at center and where they are--when you have a David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly, hes such a good two-way center-man, and Gregory Campbell.

In Tylers case you dont want him playing center-man on the fourth line . . . its not the role thats suitable for him. But at the same time its also not easy for him to come in and take David Krejcis or Patrice Bergerons spot, so the chances of him playing center would be from injures along the way.

It appears Julien has also switched into regular season mode, however, as he took Seguins situation as a ripe opportunity to challenge his current group of centers should they grow lackadaisical during the season. Seguin gives the Bs coaching staff a player that could thrive as a top-six center in the NHL if circumstances were a little bit different for Boston, and that gives Julien an effective cudgel when it comes to things like effort and compete level.

The coaches switch lines along the way to get peoples attention at times (as well), said Julien. The one thing we know is that he can play both and well find him time at each spot depending on the flow of the chemistry of our team. We understand too that Seguin is a high quality player with a high level or skill. I think right now with the way hes conducted himself in training camp, hes given himself the opportunity to bring a lot more -- to play a bigger role this year. A lot of that is going to depend on Tyler and how much he wants it.

If training camp was any indication, the 19-year-old coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season wants it pretty badly.

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

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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