Sunday, June 16, 2013

Seguin still learning how it ... one step at a time

By Larry Wigge

Call it another step in the Boston Bruins drama, "As the World Turns."

Tyler Seguin is your favorite project, trying to find the right mix of talent and skill. The Brampton, Ontario, native, is in the development stage ... but it not there yet. You don't just go from the Next One in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft -- behind Taylor Hall -- to stardom.

Oh, the 6-2, 182-pounder has won a Stanley Cup and he's already scored 29 goals in a season. But ... that mix, between talent and skill .. its like the Unfinished Symphony for Seguin, who had only one goal in 17 playoff games despite a team-high 62 shots entering Game 2 of the Finals.

Maybe Saturday night at Chicago was the entry into the Twilight Zone we've been waiting for. Big game situations make for big game players. 

Seguin ended Game 2 at 13:48 of overtime, when sent a perfect cross-ice pass through two Chicago players to Paille for the winner to give Boston a 2-1 triumph and even the series at one game apiece.

The drama? The story? It came after the first period, with the Bruins trailing 1-0 and being outshot 19-4. Bruins coach Claude Julien played a hunch, putting Seguin, Paille and Chris Kelly together to match up with Chicago's speed.

That line combined for both of Boston's goals. Drama ... I told you.

"When it comes to playoffs, you want to show you can play anywhere. Whether that's first line or fourth line, you want to play the role that's given to you. In the end, I'm just trying to help my team win," Seguin said in kind of revelation ...

He thought for a second. Maybe, he thought about the ups and downs of his first three NHL seasons. And a light went off.

"It can be frustrating," he continued. "I looked back at the tapes of last game ... there were a lot of chances. I need to find a way to score on those. There are no excuses left anymore. This is the Stanley Cup Final. You've just got to find a way."

Game. Set. Match. Boston.

In the overtime period, the second in two games in the Stanley Cup finals series, fourth-line left wing Brandon Bollig missed getting the puck out of the Chicago zone. It was a costly mistake -- Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid pinched down and created a turnover, getting the puck to Seguin.

One little play, a good one by McQuaid. A mistake by Bollig. And that's all that separated two great hockey teams on this night. 

"Claude has a pretty good feel for his players. I think our line got thrown together," said Paille, his second overtime game-winner. "They came out with a lot of speed in that first period. We wanted to somehow change that. We started to pick up the pace. We just stopped thinking and started playing. 

"Tyler looked like he was on a mission. He realized he had to play big for us and he did. He was able to be a huge contributor."

Does one big time assist begin a turnaround for Tyler Seguin? Does having two shots, one hit, two blocked shots qualify?

Seguin is a bit of a hot button in Boston. He's good, but not yet great. Sometimes we give up too early on a player. Remember Joe Thornton, drafted No. 1 overall in 1997 by the Bruins? How about Ilya Kovalchuk, who played the the Finals last year for New Jersey? Rick Nash? Or Marian Hossa, who is playing for the Blackhawks?

We don't know exactly what Tyler Seguin is. We are dazzled by the speed and stickhandling. No Bruin can get off a shot faster. Maybe it's how the Next One sees in the game. Maybe it takes him longer to dicypher the right play. 

Seguin was standing in the Boston dressing room, surrounded by cameras and microphones, with lights bright in his eyes, minutes after the overtime victory, trying to explain how it was the Bruins came back from the near slaughter of the first period to win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, tie the series at one game each, and how significant a role he played in the end result.

"Honestly, I don't really remember what happened," said Seguin, who loves to say he's still learning, loves to point out he's just 21.
You could say hockey was a part of Tyler Seguin's life. You could say his hockey game grew up larger than life.

Sort of ...

Actually, you could say that Seguin doesn't remember what it feels like to be a normal person his age. At 18, he became involved with Taylor Hall in one of the best draft stories in years -- the Taylor vs. Tyler Sweepstakes for the nod as the top player in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft before being selected second by the Boston Bruins.

"It was a big learning curve ... with a lot of ups and downs."
Some might say that Tyler Seguin may have taken the fast track to the NHL. But ...

Seguin grew up with hockey in his blood. Paul, his father, suited up four years at the University of Vermont. And, Jackie, his mother played for a local team, the Brampton Canadettes, which his sisters played for as well.

Paul Seguin played at the University of Vermont, where he was the team captain and a roommate of future NHLer John LeClair. However, there was no comparison in the way father and son played the game.

"He was a fast defenseman who did a lot of fighting," Seguin recalled. "We're pretty much opposites that way."

In the year prior to the draft, the 6-1, 182-pound center-right wing scored 48 goals and 58 assists for a league-leading 106 points for the Plymouth Whalers.

"He's a terrific player," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. "He's got a terrific skill set. He's still growing. His improvement has been tremendous from one year to the next. He's very smart. Terrific hockey sense, good stick, very underrated wrist shot. He's got the whole package."

"He was first on pucks, he was hard on pucks, he was battling, he was doing all the little things that people don't always see, but are huge," said Patrice Bergeron. "I told him that was one of his best games all year. He was awesome. He was strong, he was hard to keep up with he was so fast. He really was doing a great job with his vision, his speed but also his battle level."

Three seasons and one Stanley Cup later, it's hardly an old world for Tyler Seguin, but it is one with far more ups than downs.

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