Bruins

Seguin putting it all together in second year

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Seguin putting it all together in second year

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

MONTREAL The growth spurt for Tyler Seguin was expected to be expansive in Year No. 2 for the budding hockey prodigy.

Well, its been so far, so good in training camp for the Black and Golden Child and his Bruins.

Seguin followed up a multi-point performance and highlight-reel goal in Halifax by collecting a goal in his second straight game en route to snatching the games No. 1 star at the Bell Centre Monday night in a 2-1 victory. His teammates have certainly taken notice.

I knew he was going to come here and be excited to contribute this season, said Patrice Bergeron of Seguin. I remember my second year I felt that way. I knew I could play in the league and I learned a lot.

Hes a smart kid and he made sure he was going to be ready even though it was a short offseason. You could tell right away that his skating it was good before was even better and he has a bit more confidence to finish off some plays.

Hes done all this while bouncing between playing center for one set of teammates and right wing for David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the Bs No. 1 line Monday night and taking it all in stride.

Seguins only misstep during this entire camp was a subpar game in Ottawa when the entire squad seemed to suffer a bout of tired legs and camp fatigue simultaneously, but Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has token note of his bright prospects upward trend throughout camp. Seguin was sharp in drills among his veteran teammates in the opening few days

There were a couple of days where there might have been a little fatigue, but hes been very good throughout camp, said Chiarelli. Seguin has been one of our best players in camp this year.

Thats a long way from the raw young skater that made his debut in the very same Bell Centre last September as an unsure rookie going through everything for the first time. Seguin is a more confident, stronger version of himself going through the NHL dog and pony show for the second time, and the 19-year-old is the living, breathing, shooting and scoring embodiment of exactly how the Bruins can avoid a major Stanley Cup hangover this season.

I was going in blind last year, said Seguin. I looked at it as there would be things that I didnt know. It could get kind of annoying because you wanted to know everything, and you wanted to have results. But sometimes you have to go with it and keep learning and take a step back.

There were certain decisions made at first where I was like this sucks, but you learn, you adapt and you have to realize that youre not always going to jump into this league and be a top-line guy. Youve got to go slow, learn it and get some experience under your belt before you can do some things. But Im feeling a lot more comfortable and confident this season than last. It feels good when it finally pays off whether its on the score sheet or getting scoring chances.

The Bruins have been quick to point out that 17 members of last years Stanley Cup winning core are back this season for another crack, but the single biggest growth area on the team likely resides with Seguin.

If the teenager can develop into a 25-goal scorer with explosive skills and power play prowess this season, Seguin would take a great deal of pressure off the players that carried the heaviest playing load last year.

Hes looked like that more often than not, headed into training camp with an additional 10 pounds of muscle and a calmer approach to puck control, watching plays develop and distributing to others for offensive chances. Seguin set up Jordan Caron for multiple scoring chances in Halifax with cross-ice passes concocted with rare ice vision and a newfound sureness that his passes will hit their desired target rather than create a negative play.

The duo finally connected for a Caron score on a long stretch pass in the third period on Sunday night, and its unequivocally the kind of set up Seguin would have been hesitant about attempting as a rookie finding his way. It was a little risky and a little dangerous, but it was also more than a little effective at springing his line mate for a goal.

Horton was wheeling down the boards and had a couple of guys with him, and I kind of posted up just inside the blue line, said Seguin. I received the puck and I heard Caron yelling for it. I made kind of a dangerous pass where they -- if it didnt get through -- they could have gone. But lucky enough it got through and Caron took the one-timer without making a mistake.

Its that kind of unpredictable playmaking and willingness to execute offensive plays that will take Seguin to another level this season provided he gets the ice time and perhaps a few power play reps as well.

To those watching Seguin ascend in his second camp, its plainly and simply about believing in everything that hes doing out on the ice.

Tyler is playing with more confidence this year. He has a year under his belt and he knows what he has to do in this league, said Julien. Confidence and experience do a lot of things for players in this league, and you see it with Tyler.

He did that again tonight with precision dishes that gave Milan Lucic and Caron opportunities to rip shots at Carey Price, and a right place at the right time goal created by the rebound of a Matt Bartkowski shot from the outside of the right face-off circle.

So Seguin has scored two preseason goals in two days with one on a thrilling rush up the right wing while playing center, and a second on Monday night while scraping around the net and beating Habs defensemen to the free puck.

Seguin is by no means a finished product in his second NHL season before being legally able to drink alcohol or rent a car without hassles in the United States, but hes ready to be a difference-maker for a Bruins team fighting back a massive Cup hangover.

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

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

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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.
 
PLUS
-- 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.
 
MINUS
-- 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

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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.