Bruins

Seguin still looking for first goal of the season

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Seguin still looking for first goal of the season

RALEIGH, NC The season certainly hasnt started out the way Tyler Seguin envisioned after lighting up the Swiss League like he was being powered by rocket-fueled Toblerone bars.

In Switzerland, Seguin lit up the competition for 25 goals and 40 points in 29 games while fully admitting that the leagues focus was on skill or physicality.

Back in North America the 20-year-old prodigy is now goalless in his first four games of the season, and has only a single assist after setting up Brad Marchand against Winnipeg. Seguin also dazzled Ondrej Pavelec in the same game with a laser wrist shot to the glove side during the shootout, but has been otherwise quiet in the early going for the Black and Gold.

Hes acutely aware that he hasnt scored a goal in his team's first four games, and hes now applying the some pressure on himself to produce offensively.

Seguin is also keenly aware that Bostons 1-for-17 to start the season on the power play would likely be a much more palatable number if he was off to a torrid start offensively.

Im working on things, admitted Seguin, who had a goal and four points after his first four games last year. Ive had pressure on myself since I didnt have a goal after one period in the first game of the year. Youve just got to not get frustrated. You know when you get one that youll get a bunch, and I just need to bear down and focus on the chances Im getting. Its about just keep shooting pucks at the net.

Seguin has 11 shots on goal in the first four games, and hes had some chances to get on scoreboards. He missed an empty-net chance against the Islanders, and also saw Rick DiPietro make a pretty good stop when he flipped a bad angle shot at the goaltenders back.

So the chances have been there, and thats the good news.

One game Bergeron gave me a pass at an empty net and I just missed it. Against the Islanders I had a tough-angle shot, and the majority of the time those somehow sneak in and land on the goalies chest, said Seguin. Ive never had an empty net goal in my career in junior or the NHL. Id have to think about it at the junior level, but I dont think I ever did. It will be nice to finally get one of those.

The Bruins coaching staff and management, on the other hand, feels that the transition back to the smaller ice surfaces in North America has forced Seguin to re-adjust his game. In Switzerland, Seguin had plenty of open ice to operate on the more expansive frozen surface, and there was time and space to make plays in the attack zone. Back in the NHL, defenders are on him more quickly when hes dangling with the puck. Theres also clearly been a concerted effort by NHL defenses to pay close attention to Bostons leading scorer from last year.

When youve got a wider ice surface you have more area to spread out and work with, said coach Claude Julien. Not only that, but when youve got a bigger ice surface teams can get a little more passive. When you give Tyler that kind of time hes going to make plays.

So its a little bit tighter here and a little bit more aggressive, and hes making the adjustment. We see that. Its not from lack of will as much as its about him adjusting back to North America.

The good news for Seguin is that his line is producing with both Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron already bagging their first goals of the season. And their line continues to hold their opponents down offensively.

The team is also winning games despite Seguins modest goal-scoring drought that he hopes to end quickly as his reentry into the NHL is now almost two weeks old.

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.