Bruins

Seguin finds a home at the top

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Seguin finds a home at the top

BOSTON -- Its only been two games, but its looking like Tyler Seguin has found a home on the Bruins top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

The trio hasn't enjoyed the explosive scoring stretch that Marchand and Bergeron had last season when they were finally paired with Mark Recchi in the month of January, but it would take an act of the hockey gods to break up a group of forwards that seem made for each other.

Clearly Seguin is a phenomenon to himself as a 19-year-old mega-prospect finally coming into his own after getting tapped as the No .2 overall pick in the draft last summer, but he also knows that he needs skilled players like Bergeron and Marchand to compliment his offensive game. Both Bergeron and Marchand can help finish off Seguins creative play on the ice, and all three skate with the kind of speed, force and suffocating tenacity that far outweigh any downside.

I like playing with Bergeron and Seguin. I thought we played well together and really clicked out on the ice in the offensive zone, said Marchand. If we play like that consistently then hopefully were going to be a dangerous line, and that will allow us to stay together.

Seguin was good in a combination with Milan Lucic because he really forced the power forward to get his feet moving more quickly, and a pairing with Chris Kelly allowed the Bs two-way center to cover for some of his defensive inefficiencies along the way.

But the newly reconfigured gold line can effectively fore-check with speed and force, gives Seguin a pair of consistent finishers in Bergeron and Marchand and provides Seguin with the perfect lead-by-example player like Bergeron.

Everybody saw what happened in the second period against the Sens earlier this week when Seguin found Bergeron with a good-looking drop-back pass and the longtime Bs center showed the ability to pounce all over plays created by the second-year Seguin. Its no coincidence that Bergeron and Seguin are shooting the puck with more frequency than anybody else in the Black and Gold uniform, and that could be a dynamite playmaking combo moving forward.

Ive bounced around lines, and I never know what sticks and what doesnt, said Seguin. But Im going to just play my role and try to create chemistry with my linemates. Bergeron and Marchand both have great speed and were 1-1 as a team when were together. So we feel good as a line, and Im just stepping in trying to create speed and playmaking skills.

Theres plenty of long range wondering about Seguin as well with any number of trades potentially opening up a top-six roster spot for somebody hungering for a regular NHL job. Hypothetically any deals could open Seguin up for a chance to be one of the top two centers on the Bruins as early as this season, but it appears the Bruins are happy to have Seguin skating up and down the wall on the right wing. The daily responsibilities of a center are something Seguin will slowly or rapidly become accustomed to along with every other part of his game.

The long-range plans for Seguin are legion in Boston, and they include a great many things from the center position. But dont expect that move to the middle to come down this season permanently, and instead count on the youngster to form one of the most exciting lines in hockey alongside Marchand and Bergeron.

Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

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Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.

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“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

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