Tyler Seguin is finally ready for his moment in the playoff spotlight
|05.12.11 at 7:15 pm ET|
He was drafted by the Bruins No. 2 overall in last summer NHL entry draft. He was picked by the Bruins as the face of the franchise moving forward into the next decade.
With the latest concussion to Patrice Bergeron, that moment has arrived faster than anyone could have imagined – or hoped.
But we’re about to find out – ready or not – just what kind of special player 19-year-old Tyler Seguin can be for the Bruins.
“I’m trying to keep as sharp as I can both on and off the ice even though I’m not playing,” Seguin said. “You have to work out pretty hard when you’re not in the lineup and do a lot of hard skates and hard workouts so I feel great.
“It’s been a huge learning curve. My defensive zone has gotten a lot better I think. I also believe on a compete level, my battling skills have gotten better and still improving.”
Veteran Mark Recchi, 24 years older than Seguin, doesn’t think the rookie will be overwhelmed in his first playoff action on the Bruins’ third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, partly because he’s seen the fire of intense playoff hockey in his recent past.
“His competitive level was huge,” Recchi said. “In juniors, I think he was just so darn good that he could kind of get away with skill. He learned how to compete every night and he learned to be a pro. It was great to see he was willing to learn, he was willing to talk to guys, get better, want to get better and when you have that, you’re going to get better. If you think you’re too good, you’re not going to get better, but he improved tremendously over the course of the season in terms of how hard he competed and it was great to see. This is another level, and he’s ready for it. It will be fun.”
Seguin certainly won’t argue that point. It’ll be fun, exciting and nerve-wracking all at once.
“It’s nice to know that you’re going to be in the lineup for sure,” Seguin said of his third-line assignment. “The week goes by a bit easier. It’s hard not being in the lineup and watching from up top [9th floor] but I’m very excited to get things underway.”
“He’s worked hard all year to get better and better, and he has,” Recchi said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s a great opportunity for him. You’re going to have injuries through the playoffs, and you need guys to step in. This is a great opportunity for a young guy to come in and get his first taste of it.”
This, of course, is the final call of coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli.
“Seguin goes into a spot here right now, and we all know he’s capable of making plays, and it’s going to be his first playoff game,” Julien said Thursday. “We’ve got to give him that opportunity to get his feet wet. And understand, when we say getting his feet wet, you’ve got to give him that opportunity. He’s also got to show that he deserves to be there and deserves to stay there.
“And he’s well aware of that. Anyone who comes into the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who we put in there, you’ve got to be able to do the job. It’s not about teaching, it’s not about anything else but the moment and the importance of what that means. So that’s where we’re at in regards to that. We feel good about his game, what he’s capable of bringing, and that’s why he’s still here. He’s been with us all year and we chose to keep him here because he’s got some assets that help our hockey club.”
Seguin was a minus-4 in his first NHL season, comprising 74 games. He tallied 11 goals and 11 assists, showing flashes of the talent that made him the No. 2 overall pick last summer. Now, he gets to show off those skills for the first time since the season finale on April 10 in New Jersey.
“Tyler is a guy like I said if he finds his game and he’s comfortable and I know he hasn’t played in a while,” Julien said. “He’s got speed, he’s got skill and it doesn’t take him much sometimes to create something and we see that in practice everyday and hopefully that confidence carries into the games.”