Tyler Seguin has finally arrived.
Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals proved to be a coming out party for the Bruins’ rookie. Playing in only his 2nd career NHL playoff game (after being a healthy scratch for Boston’s first 11 postseason tilts), the 19-year old Seguin responded with a breakout 4-point performance, leading the Bruins to a 6-5 victory over the Lightning to even their Best-of-7 series at 1 game apiece.
Seguin finally showed the kind of flashes that made him the #2 overall pick in last year’s entry draft. He exploded for 2 goals and 2 assists in the 2nd period alone, including a highlight breakaway goal that turned the momentum of the game (and series?) squarely in the Bruins’ favor. Everything he touched in that middle frame ended up behind Tampa Bay netminder Dwayne Roloson.
With 6 points (3 G, 3 A) in two playoff games, it’s fair to say that Seguin has now established himself as a permanent fixture in the Bruins’ lineup moving forward. Ironically, Seguin was called on to suit up for the Bruins by accident, only after Patrice Bergeron, Boston’s 2nd leading scorer in the playoffs, suffered a concussion in Game 4 of their previous series vs. Philadelphia. Despite twice being listed as a gametime decision, Bergeron’s been unable to suit up in for each of the first 2 games of the Conference Finals, finally allowing Seguin the opportunity to seize the spotlight.
For Head Coach Claude Julien and the rest of Boston’s brass, it sure can be a fine line between clever and stupid.
While on the surface Julien comes off looking like a genius this morning, the question remains, how has Seguin not been in Boston’s postseason lineup up until this point? It’s fairly obvious that Seguin has the rare quality of being a dynamic difference maker on the ice.
Seguin spent much of the regular season receiving limited ice time on the Bruins’ 4th line, while being a healthy scratch on various occasions. He only managed one point in his last 19 regular season games, his final regular season scoring output – 22 Points (11 G, 11 A) – ranking him 22nd in the NHL amongst rookies.
You could make a case that Julien was just trying to groom the gifted young forward on the merits of being a 2-way hockey player. The Bruins, after all, are a defense-oriented hockey club (they finished 2nd overall in Team GAA and featured 4 players in the Top 12 in plus-minus) who pride themselves on keeping the puck out of their goal as much as they do putting the puck in their opposition’s net.
But while #1 overall pick Taylor Hall was given significant minutes in Edmonton to develop his game – and ultimately flourish – in his rookie campaign, Seguin remained stifled on an established and structured Bruins squad. The word “bust” even started floating around.
That was, until last night.
The fallout from Game 2 should not be lost on Fantasy Owners looking ahead to next season. Seguin’s stock has undoubtedly risen dramatically overnight, about as quickly as gas prices at your local Shell station. If he can continue performing at this level, Seguin will almost assuredly be a Top-6 forward on the Bruins next season and a potential keeper for many years to come.
More Bruins’ Banter: It’s hard to believe that Bruins’ management is being so careless with Bergeron’s “mild” concussion. Sure, they need him back in their lineup, but considering his history of major head injuries, you have to wonder if he should be shut down for the remainder of the playoffs… Hats off to Tomas Kaberle, who shut up his critics in Game 2 after a tough opener to the Conference Finals. The Bruins’ D-man tallied 2 assists – both on the previously anemic PP – and even chipped in with 2 shots on goal. He was the 2nd best Bruin on the ice Tuesday night, behind Seguin.