|Wheeler sees Seguin conquering rookie speedbumps early||10.02.10 at 8:25 am ET|
BELFAST — Since arriving in Belfast we’ve been able to take closer looks at how lines are gelling as the regular season inches closer and closer. The first line admittedly is looking forward to breaking out of preseason flashes of greatness, while the second line seems to be both stable and intriguing.
It’s hard to argue that any Bruins line could be more intriguing than the third. The line, centered by second overall pick Tyler Seguin, sees a potential franchise player in between two scorers coming off down years in Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler. For a time, Claude Julien and the Bruins had considered playing Wheeler at center on the line, but ultimately decided that they wanted to take advantage of playing Seguin at his natural position for as long as Marc Savard is out with post-concussion syndrome symptoms.
So, one week before his real NHL debut, what have we seen from Seguin? Like top picks in years past, a lot of proof that he’s an elite talent and some proof that he’s still getting familiar with the NHL surroundings. As for the talent, he can show it off if he wants to, as he did on a goal in practice Thursday that fused fancy stick-handling with deke that made him look more like Brandon Tate on his kickoff return against the Bengals. It’s at spots like those where his natural talent explains how he scored 48 goals a season ago.
Then there are the reminders that he’s still 18 and that he’s adjusting to a new league, new linemates, new everything. Between the rookie games and the Bruins’ preseason games, he’s had a few slip-ups in his own end, something he admittedly feels is the biggest adjustment.
“I think it’s more defensively,” Seguin said of any challenges he’s faced to this point. “‘¦ Obviously there have been little things that you have to adapt to, and I’ve just been doing my best. Usually I am a pretty quick learner, and that’s just what I’ve been trying to do. I just want to stay as consistent as I can with the little things I’m learning.”
Wheeler may have the best seat in the house for watching Seguin’s progress, something he already feels has come a long way. Technically, Wheeler was competing with Seguin for that third center spot, but given both of the players’ willingness to play either position (they both have plenty of experience at both center and on the wing), it really wasn’t a competition at all. In fact, Wheeler sees some of his own situation of a couple years ago when skating with Seguin. Once a top-five pick himself (Coyotes, 2004), Wheeler knows what it’s like to try to make an impression while getting a feel for a new league.
“Tyler’s new on the team, so just getting him adjusted to the physical demands of playing at this level and playing within our system. Once he gets down where to play on the ice, it’s going to make things a lot easier for him, it’s going to slow down the game for him, and you’re going to see his natural abilities come out,” Wheeler said. “He’s a great young player. Like anything else — I remember my first year — it takes a little bit of time to know where to be on the ice at the right times. Once he’s there, he’s just going to take off.”
A year after his senior campaign at the University of Minnesota, Wheeler signed with the Bruins and strung together a 21-goal season out of the gate. After taking a step backwards in his second season with 18 tallies, he’s on a new line with a center he has a great deal of faith in. Even if Seguin makes mistakes in the early going, Wheeler feels the more opportunities the reigning OHL MVP gets to learn from, the closer his comfort will be to matching his skill set.
“It’s all repetition, you know? He just needs to be kind of thrown into the fire like he is,” Wheeler said. “Get him in there and just let him kind of learn by trial and error. He’s going to see that when he’s in the right spots in our system, when he’s keeping things simple, it makes the game a lot easier out there. If you’re trying to do too much at this level, you’re going to be exposed, and I think he’s probably getting a little taste of that right now.”
Julien feels the same way, but places a great deal of stress on the players noticing each speed bump as they come across them. Regardless of star status or any other variable, if the player can diagnose the differences from league to league, Julien feels they’re on the right track.
“I think it’s not just Tyler, but anybody who would come in here and be in their first pro camp or first time with us ‘¦ a first-year player comes in and learns that the pro game is a little different than the junior game, or even the college game for that matter,” Julien said. “At this level here, guys are most of the time in good position to either be outlets, and at the same time, they realize that those little details, they’ll be the first ones to tell you that those things seem to mean a lot in our game.”
The expectations are high on Seguin, but on a team in which each line has a newcomer to the squad, (Nathan Horton, Jordan Caron, Seguin, and Gregory Campbell on lines one through four, respectively) he may not be the only one dealing with an adjustment. His learning process may have huge payoff for the Bruins, and both the team and the city of Boston hope to reap the benefits.
|First period summary: Capitals 1, Bruins 0||09.29.10 at 7:43 pm ET|
Tim Thomas faced six shots and stopped five as Nicklas Backstrom beat the veteran goaltender on a one-timer in front of the net midway through the period.
With teammate Tuukka Rask in sweats up in the press box halo looking on, Thomas looked solid, if not spectacular in his first preseason action this fall.
The Bruins managed just five shots on Capitals netminder Dany Sabourin.
The highlight of the period came two seconds in when Bruins center Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves with Capitals center Matt Hendricks. Just 24 hours earlier, Cambell got into it with Alexander Ovechkin as the two exchanged pleasantries at the Verizon Center.
Ovechkin cross-checked Campbell, who later came back at Ovechkin with a hard hit into the boards. The rough stuff continued and escalated in the third period.
Ovechkin didn’t make the trip so Hendricks was the stand-in and delivered the message at the earliest possible moment – the opening face-off.
As for the most anticipated talent in these parts since Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin centered the line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. He played 5 minutes, 13 seconds and didn’t get a shot on goal. He was on the ice for the Backstrom goal and finished the period with a -1.
|Seguin appears headed for center||at 12:29 pm ET|
The Bruins made six more cuts from camp on Wednesday, sending Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill, Steven Kampfer, Jeff LoVecchio, Jeremy Reich, and Wyatt Smith have been assigned to Providence. Though Colborne was expected to require some more seasoning in the AHL anyway, the move to send Hamill down significantly narrows down the team’s options regarding the third-line center.
“It wasn’t easy,” coach Claude Julien said of sending the former eighth overall pick to Providence. “Zach is a player that has progressed every year so far, and he’s getting there. For him, maybe it’s a disappointment, but for us, we were really impressed with how much he’s gotten better over the course of the few years. He’s pretty close, and to the point where I don’t think as a coach I’d even hesitate to give him a call and use him because there’s going to be some injuries.
“All he has to do is go to Providence and continue to show that he’s a good player and try and be as dominate a player as he can down there. If he has a good season, there’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be back. ”
With the competition seemingly down to second overall pick Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien indicated Wednesday that Seguin may be the preference, though the team will get looks at both players in the three final preseason games. Seguin will center a line with Michael Ryder and Wheeler vs. the Capitals on Wednesday at TD Garden.
“I think it’s getting clearer. Obviously, with Colborne and Hamill being gone, there’s a bit of a competition in a way to see who’s going to end up there. We’d like to see Tyler play in that position tonight and really give him that chance. We know he can play the wing, we’ve seen him play the wing with some players, and be pretty successful, so more than likely you’re going to see him [at center] and we’ll see how he handles it tonight, especially against a Washington team that is usually a pretty good team. If not, we’ve got a couple of preseason games over in Europe where we can rotate him and Blake in and out.”
Here is the rest of the roster for the game:
Goaltenders: Nolan Schaefer, Tim Thomas
It is expected that Thomas will start in net on Wednesday night. It will be his first preseason action.
|Seguin takes the good with the bad||09.25.10 at 10:59 pm ET|
Saturday night was a big night for Tyler Seguin. It definitely wasn’t the first time he heard a crowd go crazy after he scored, and it certainly wasn’t the first time Boston fans lost their voices cheering for him each time his name was announced. It was, however, the first time the two occurrences coincided, as he netted his first goal of the preseason and scored for the first time at TD Garden.
Seguin scored the Bruins’ first goal of the night, one that was followed by a tally from another newcomer in Nathan Horton. Though he was glad to “finally” score as a member of the Bruins (if one scoreless game in which he had an assist against the Canadiens qualifies in Seguin’s mind as a scoring drought, the Bruins are in great shape), Seguin may have been more concerned with the one that got away than his first preseason goal. With the Panthers holding a 2-1 advantage in the shootout, Seguin was stopped by Florida netminder and former Boston College great Scott Clemmensen to end the game.
“There was a lot of pressure there,” Seguin said when asked of the moments leading up to his turn in the shootout. “When I went in, I heard Bergeron [who scored the first goal of the shootout] say the goalie was back in his net, so I wanted to go up high there, but I ended up going low. I kind of whiffed on it a bit, but what can you do?”
Last season’s OHL MVP, Seguin admitted that he could get away with more in his days in juniors than now. He pointed to his play in his own end as an area where he feel he still needs to improve.
“Back in the OHL, you can probably make a couple more errors. Here, if you make those errors, they’re going to cost you,” Seguin said, adding that there are also bits and pieces of his game as a winger that have been developing with more practice.
As for being called on in a shootout again, Seguin said that though he isn’t too experienced with them, he feels comfortable in the setting. He added that he would embrace being used in such a scenario again.
“You know, we didn’t have a lot [of shootouts] on the Whalers, but I’ve always been good at shootouts,” Seguin said. “I’m just going to keep working on it and hopefully I get the opportunity more this year.”
|Panthers win it in shootout||at 10:25 pm ET|
Cory Stillman notched the game-winner against Tuukka Rask in a shootout as the Bruins took a 3-2 loss in third preseason game, their first at TD Garden. After Patrice Bergeron netted the team the first shootout goal, Ryan Spooner and Tyler Seguin failed to convert on their attempts.
In regulation, both teams went scoreless in the first period with each with the Bruins scoring twice in the second and the Panthers picking up two of their own in the third. Seguin and Nathan Horton provided the offense for the B’s, with both of the high-profile newcomers beating Scott Clemmensen in the second. Seguin’s tally was the first of his preseason, while Horton had already potted one against the Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Radek Dvorak slid a Rask at 2:20 of the third period to make it a 2-1 game. The goal broke up a shutout bid by Rask in which the Panthers otherwise failed to capitalize on rebounds. Later in the period, a Horton turnover behind his own net led to Marty Reasoner setting up Nathan McArdle for the game-tying goal.
|Expect Friday morning’s lines on Saturday||09.24.10 at 6:19 pm ET|
Those excited to finally hear that Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton skated on a line in Friday morning’s practice are in luck. Same goes for those gushing about the PPF (past, present, future — stick tap to ESPNBoston’s Joe MacDonald on the name) line consisting of 42 year old Mark Recchi and 18 year old Tyler Seguin with Patrice Bergeron, 25, in the middle. Claude Julien indicated that the lines from the earlier of the team’s two sessions will likely be the same ones that take the ice Saturday night at the Garden against the Panthers.
“Our lineups should be pretty close to what you saw this morning in the first group,” Julien said Friday. “So if you took note of that, that’s pretty close. I always say that because tomorrow morning something may happen or we might make a change here or there. But what you saw in the first group is, if everything goes according to how it should, it should be pretty close team for tomorrow.”
Chiarelli also said that Tim Thomas, who practiced on Friday, will not be in net for the Bruins. By process of elimination, expect Tuukka Rask, the only other goalie in the first group Friday, to get the start.
|Seguin not the only youngster impressing Recchi||at 3:04 pm ET|
Mark Recchi‘s name as been tied in with every Tyler Seguin discussion since the Bruins drafted the young forward. Given Recchi’s experience and knowledge of both the game and the league, it’s only natural to assume he will serve as a mentor to the young superstar.
Speaking Friday, Recchi was of course asked about Seguin, who he called an “extremely skilled” guy who’s “in a great opportunity to continue to grow as a player.” From his perspective, Seguin isn’t the only youngster who has impressed in camp, and certainly not the only one who might appreciate a word or two of advice from a veteran.
“It’s a growing process for these guys. They get nervous,” Recchi said. “Going to Montreal — it’s probably the first time [Jordan Caron] has played in [the Bell Centre] — and being a French-Canadian, it’s pretty nerve-racking for those kids. I think he handled it well, and I think he’s going to continue to get better.”
Recchi doesn’t mind doing what he can to help the young players get acclimated with the professional setting. Now 42, he looks back on his early days in the league.
“Right now, it’s just trying to make them comfortable, feel part of it, always saying hi to them, always tapping them. It makes kids feel good. I was there one day, when I had Bryan Trottier tapping me on the shin pads. It makes you feel pretty good, so right now the biggest thing is making sure that they feel welcomed and they feel part of it.”
Recchi spoke highly of how some of the organization’s younger guys, including calling second-round pick Ryan Spooner a “heck of a hockey player.”
“[Ryan] Spooner has opened a lot of eyes to me,” Recchi said. “He’s a heck of a hockey player.” Though guys like Seguin and Spooner would have to make the team or return to juniors, Recchi noted that the likes of Matt Bartkowski and Steve Kampfer could prove valuable as callups during the season.
“It’s great to have that kind of depth,” Recchi said. “If you have it, it makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure.”
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