Bruins

Seguin starts to 'get it' as season winds down

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Seguin starts to 'get it' as season winds down

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins are going through their worst stretch of the season, saddledwith road-weary legs after playing 12 of their last 16 games away from home.But through it all, Tyler Seguin is playing some of thebest hockey of his rookie season.

The grueling stretch has clearly had an effect on some of the older players like 43-year-oldMark Recchi (two points and a minus-2 in the last 10 games). But Seguin has been energized, witha goal and six shots on net in his last two games.

The 19-year-old has earned some power play time from coach Claude Julien in each of the last two games, and Seguin was easily Bostons best forward on the ice during the loss to Toronto Saturday night. He also impressively shook off a Patric Hornqvist elbow to the head in the first period against Nashville, and kept skating hard despite seven stitches to his left ear.

Its allbeen part of the natural progression for the Bs rookie.Seguin knows that good, consistent, competitive performances can mean helping his team and getting a better chance to crack the playoff lineup for Boston.He's way past Steve Stamkos comparisons and first-year point projections, and simply wants to add to the B's winning side of the ledger.

Its about finding what role youre going to have in this league and going after it, said Seguin. Im trying to get it whether its being involved in the play, or hitting and finishing checks just a little bit more. I think Im still just trying to find my way and do my best.

I know I still have a lot more in me. I have a ton to learn. Ive always been a statistical person and I know I can get a lot more points. But its been a slow process and Ive had some ups and downs. Its getting to crunch time in the season and I want to show everybody that Im ready to be here in the end. I want to win and want to have a championship, even if its in my first year. I want to be a part of that.

Seguin knows he wont be winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, or putting up gaudy first-yeartotals like Logan Couture or the now-injured Taylor Hall. But, conversely, there arent many lottery level draft picks witha legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup.
The understanding of team concept over individual accomplishments normally doesnt register with young players establishing themselves in the league. But Seguin has been an exception to the rule for many things, andhe understands what his team requires. There was actually a head-scratching column in the Edmonton Journallast month that took Seguin to task for putting team goals ahead of individual stuff like the Calder Trophy -- and seemed to have a problem with the youngster because he had his priorities in line.

It didnt happen overnight, of course -- there were long stretches with little progress early in the season -- but Julien gave Seguin a ringing endorsement recently that the rookie is really beginning to get things. And Seguin's mindset simply proves that his first-year progress has been a success, and continues to improve with each passing day.

Hes slowly getting better, said Julien. The things weve been working on with him are starting to pay off. Hes competing a little better, and when you compete a little better in certain areas then your skill level begins to take over.

The skill level we know is there, and its all about how he exposes it. I think he exposed it by competing in certain areas and making sure he has the puck on his stick. He has to play with the puck, and I think hes been a lot better with regard to that.

Some of Seguins transformation over the last month came on the heels of a pair of healthy scratches against the Canadiens and Red Wings in big Februarygames. The message from the coaching staff was received loud and clear by Seguin; he's stepped up his battle in every zone on the ice, and consequently becomestronger on and off the puck.

Nobody expectsSeguin to hammer players through the boards or turn into a Milan Lucic-style hitting machine, but that doesnt mean there arent players he can emulate while developing into a two-way center. The two registered hits against the Maple Leafs were eye-opening, consideringthathe understandably shied away from contact earlier this year.

Seguin is quick to say he aims to be his own player, but he's also smart enough to know that he can learn quite a bit from watching Patrice Bergeron go about his business.

Bergeron is the consummate two-way center in the defensive and offensive ends of the ice, and thats the kind of player Seguin aspires to be.

I think my whole life Ive always wanted to be a good all-around player and a good leader, and Bergie is definitely all of those things, said Seguin. Bergeron isa very focused guy, and all of the guys in the room respect him for that. I think in the end you have to have your own game, so I dont want to be Patrice Bergeron. But everything he does is goodfrom theD-zone to his skill, and the way hes positioned on the PK and the PP. You can throw him in any situation, and thats who I want to be in the future.

Obviously Im not 220 pounds, so when some of the bigger boys finish their checks then I might fall down. But I want to be more involved. I want to take anything I can get, and I want to win.

The first step to becoming a winning player is actually learning what it takes to win, and it seems that Seguin is getting it at the tail end of an eucational first season in the NHL.

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

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.

 

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

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Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

BOSTON – It feels like the Bruins might finally be hitting their critical mass with all of the injuries in the first few weeks of the season.

The B’s were down Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Krejci as the new injuries Saturday night and clearly missed those players, along with the others currently out with injuries in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The Bruins had a three-goal lead in the second period and a two-goal lead in the third but frittered away both while allowing the hapless Sabres to outshoot them 21-6 in the third and overtime.

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Anton Khudobin battled his rebound control for most of the game while facing 42 shots on net but it was the absence of Miller and McQuaid in the D-zone that made it a little too easy for Buffalo to push Boston when it mattered late.

Torey Krug was on the ice for the last three of Buffalo’s goals and was out penalty killing late in the third period in a spot where he would never have been in if the B’s were healthy on the back end.

“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world. They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done. And that’s why they are paid to get it done,” said Bruce Cassidy. “So yes, we miss them. But, last week we missed other players. So the guys that are out there, it’s up to them to get it done, right?

“It didn’t happen tonight, and hopefully we learned from it and can be hungrier the next time. There’s not much else to analyze that. That was it. Someone had to play in that situation. We pick guys who we figure would get the job done, and it didn’t work out for us. Next time, we’ll keep working at it.”

As part of the injury factor, there are also players that are banged-up and back in who are also clearly not back to full strength. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are both back from their early-season issues and Krug continues to play with a healing fractured jaw, but all three key players combined for just a single assist and three shots on net in a game that featured nine goals.

Krug was the most noticeable weak link in the loss as he was overwhelmed in the D-zone on the game-tying goal when an Evander Kane shot bounced on him on its way into the goal. Krug was down on his stomach after losing his balance while battling in front of the net. Krug then was out for an extended period in OT before bumping a Sabres player around the crease who fell into Khudobin just as Ryan O’Reilly was pushing the game-winning goal past him.

Krug spoke on Saturday morning about feeling like things were starting to come together for him but he finished a minus-3 against the Sabres with his big, bad teammates out with injuries. He's a startling minus-8 after the first two weeks of the season.

“Obviously we have to do a better job tonight. Two-goal lead in your own building, it’s got to be the hardest place for the opposing team to come in and overcome that. We’ve got to be better,” said Krug. “I thought I had an opportunity to win a battle in the corner on that loose puck. Just trying to swat away and all of a sudden it comes out the other side, and we just couldn’t overcome. That’s survival mode. “Especially when they were able to make changes like they were. We just got to stay calm, composed, and make sure we’re not getting beat one-on-one. We obviously managed it for a while, but we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

It was also clearly about Khudobin, who had a big chance to put the Bruins team on his back with Rask out with a concussion. The Russian netminder made 37 saves and at times looked energetic and ready to battle between the pipes but at other times couldn’t make the clean save that the Bruins needed in order to get a whistle and calm things down. In OT, Khudobin couldn’t make a clean glove save on a Rasmus Ristolainen tester from the high slot that would have allowed the Bruins to get some tired players off the ice in the 3-on-3 OT.

Instead, Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were out on the ice for 2 minutes, 15 seconds and eventually got beaten on O’Reilly’s play that took the puck straight to the Boston net. Cassidy called it an “erratic” night for Khudobin when they needed calmer, more poised play from their goaltender and that was clearly a reflection of the Black and Gold missing Rask.

“[Khudobin] was erratic. He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. [He] certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him,” said Cassidy. “But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out [on plays] that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.

“[There were instances] in the third period, plus overtime, where we needed to calm the game down. Whether it’s a face-off, even right before the overtime goal, we had opportunities to get possession out of that pile. They came out with it. And that’s what I said. They were hungrier than us. Late, they won more pucks. If we win that puck out of that pile, we might not be talking about losing. Maybe we get out of trouble and it goes our way. We’ll never know.”

Maybe things would have gone the Bruins way if they had more of their walking wounded back and contributing. Instead, it feels as if the B’s are being tested with new, damaging injuries with each passing day. A number of those had a direct impact on a brutal loss to the Sabres on Saturday night. One has to wonder if there are more of those coming until the Bruins can start stabilizing their medical situation.