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Brad Marchand says Tyler Seguin is ‘pressure’ free now, and it shows 03.08.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin

Forget the pressure of playing against his hometown Leafs on Thursday. After all, Tyler Seguin has proven that’s not really pressure at all. It’s inspiration.

The true pressure test came early in the season in the form of expectations for the budding superstar of the Bruins.

On Sept. 11, he signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension with the Bruins, when he was still 20 years of age. He then lit it up in Switzerland during the four-month NHL lockout, just to stay sharp. Stay sharp he did with 25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games with Biel.

He started relatively slowly with three goals and seven assists in his first 17 games. But since the calendar turned to March he’s been on fire. He has four goals in two assists in four games in March and has turned the Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line into the most productive on the team.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him coming into the year with his new contract and with how well he did over in Switzerland,” Marchand said after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Leafs in which he had two goals and an assist. “I think he was feeling pressure a bit because a lot of people were saying a lot of things about him, and it seems like right now he’s just very calm and confident, and he’s not really worried about anything else. He’s just focused on playing, and when he does that he’s a great player, and you see it night in and night out right now. He’s making a difference.”

Funny, it’s the assist he got that impressed everyone the most. After Marchand fought for a loose puck near the Toronto bench, he picked it up and made like a missile for the Leafs goal in the final minute of the first period. He was stopped but the rebound was left for Bergeron to tap home for a 1-0 lead.

“When Segs is on his game that’s the kind of things he does,” Marchand marveled. “He takes the puck to the net hard, and he uses speed and skill, and you saw that in the first goal, you saw it in the second goal, and I guess again on the third one. His speed, that’s how he has to play.”

In 14 career games against his hometown Leafs (actually, he grew up in nearby Brampton, Ont.), he has 10 goals and six assists. Any extra bounce for the player who is the reason for the “Thank you, Kessel” chants at TD Garden?

“I’d like to say no,” Seguin said with a smile. “I mean I try to prepare for every game but [Thursday] I thought we did a good job, I think all of our goals our line scored so it was a total line effort whether it was winning battles or making nice passes.

Is there is a little more relief now that these pucks are hitting the back of the net?

“Yeah, you could say that,” Seguin said. “I think every guy in here likes to score and I’m no exception so definitely feels good.

“I think the last couple weeks I’ve just been playing good in my D-Zone and competing a lot more than I think I was in the start of the season. Over in Europe I think I was circling a bit more and didn’t really have to battle, I don’t even know if I got hit over there for the few months I was there but I had to find that game again with me, and I think it’s coming around now.”

The fire everyone always wanted to see from Seguin has been lit. How long will it burn?

“I mean I think it just comes with not producing and just getting more determined and getting back to focusing on the little things more than the big picture or the statistics, I’m starting with that and things are rolling from there,” he said. “I mean it feels good. I think again, like I was saying, as a whole, as a line, I think we’re playing really well, we’re moving the puck well and winning battles and I think with our experience with each other over the last two years those two the last three, it’s really clicking right now.”

Seguin couldn’t help but get a little friendly jab in at Marchand when reminded that he’s scoring all the goals that Marchand was getting from his assists early in the season.

“I just gave it to March [early in the season],” Seguin said. “What else are you going to do, look at the stats?

Well, that’s not a bad place now for No. 19.

Read More: Biel hockey, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, NHL
Olympic hockey: Group A breakdown 02.16.10 at 11:05 am ET
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The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics hockey tournament starts at 3 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday at Canada Hockey Place with Team USA taking on Switzerland to begin the Group A preliminary round robin. Throughout the day, we will present short bios of the teams in each group, starting with Group A, where the United States and Canada continue a long international rivalry.

Note: After the preliminary round, each of the 12 teams will be ranked on the basis of points. The top four teams advance to the quarterfinals, with the remaining teams playing to advance.

Schedule (All times ET)

Feb. 16 — USA vs. Switzerland, 3 p.m.

Feb. 16 — Canada vs. Norway, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 — USA vs. Norway, 3 p.m.

Feb. 18 — Canada vs. Switzerland, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 20 — Norway vs. Switzerland, 3 p.m.

Feb. 21 — Canada vs. USA, 7:40 p.m.

United States

Captain — Jamie Langenbrunner

Assistant captains — Zach Parise, Dustin Brown, Ryan Suter, Brian Rafalski

Goaltenders — Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick

Players to Watch — Phil Kessel, Chris Drury, Patrick Kane

Bruins on the roster — Thomas

Breakdown — Team USA’s strength is between the pipes. The Sabres’ Miller is likely to get most of the starts for the Americans, but any one of the three goaltenders can get hot and carry the team into the medal round. Drury was a standout at Boston University, where he helped the Terriers to a national championship in 1995. This will be his third Olympic games. Kane and Kessel could give the team some offensive pop, but to stand up to the likes of Russia and Canada the Americans will have to be able to keep pucks out of the net. Team USA definitely has talent, but it may not be enough to propel it to its first gold medal since the 1980 Miracle on Ice, the only other time Team USA took first aside from the 1960 Forgotten Miracle.

Canada

Captain — Scott Niedermayer

Assistants — Sidney Crosby, Jerome Iginla, Chris Pronger

Goaltenders – Marc-Andre Fleury, Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur

Players to Watch — Whom not to watch? With such a star-packed team there are plenty of names to keep an eye on, but look out for Blackhawks young forward Jonathan Toews.

Bruins on the roster — Patrice Bergeron

Breakdown — The pressure is on the Canadians to win this tournament going away. It is their sport, their country and their gold medal to lose. With Crosby, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley likely to head up the top line and stout defensemen including Pronger on the blue line, it is an NHL general manager’s dream. Add in Luongo and the timeless Brodeur, and Canada has plus players and depth at every position. Look for Bergeron to man center on the third line and play against opposing teams’ top lines as a defensive forward.

Switzerland

Captain — Mark Streit

Goaltenders — Jonas Hiller, Martin Gerber, Tobias Stephan

Players to Watch — Streit and Hiller are the NHL stalwarts, but some young talent at the minor league level includes Yannick Weber of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs (Canadiens), Andres Ambuhl of the AHL Hartford Wolfpack (Rangers) and Luca Sbisa of the WHL Portland Winterhawks (Ducks).

Breakdown — Gerber and Hiller are the strength of Team Switzerland and Streit is a strong captain for the team, but overall the talent is spread too thin to compete with the North Americans. A quarterfinals run would be an outside possibility.

Norway

Captain — TBD

Goaltenders — Pal Grotnes, Andre Lysenstoen, Ruben Smith.

Who to Watch – Ole-Kristian Tollefson, Patrick Thoresen, Tommy Jakobsen.

Breakdown — Tollefson and Thoresen are the only two players that have any NHL experience and neither are currently in the league. Tollefson has had the most success as the 65th pick of the 2002 draft by the Blue Jackets. He is with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Red Wings system. Tollefson and Thorensen are two of only five Norwegian players to ever lace up in the league. Thorensen played with the Oilers and Flyers and now is with Salat Yulaev of the KHL. Jakobsen is the old bear of the team with 131 international appearances. Do not expect much from Norway. The last time it qualified for the Olympics was 1994, and its highest finish in the tournament was eighth in 1972.

Read More: Canada, Norway, Patrice Bergeron, Switzerland
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