BOSTON -- As the Boston Bruins struggled offensively and game by game let the Toronto Maple Leafs even their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, one of the thoughts on everyone's mind was whether Tyler Seguin ever would score a goal.
For a while, Seguin was thinking a lot about his slump too.
Although he assisted on Patrice Bergeron's overtime goal in Game 7, Seguin never found the back of the net against the Maple Leafs. With the Bruins' Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New York Rangers starting Thursday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), Seguin's going to try to continue his newest approach, which is to stop thinking about results and just let them come from hard work.
SOG: 29 | +/-: -1
"When I go out there on a shift and I'm visualizing I'm going to score and this is how I'm going to sell it, you know it's not going to go in. But when I'm going out there just saying 'Good [defensive] zone,' and not thinking at all, we score in overtime and [Bergeron] did it."
Seguin was second on the Bruins with 16 goals and third with 32 points in the regular season. His assist on the Bergeron goal was his only point of the Toronto series.
It's almost unfathomable to think that the 21-year-old fired 29 shots on Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer over seven games and never got one into the back of the net. But Seguin admits maybe the shot total wasn't quite reflective of his overall play.
"I thought I started off the series well last series and I was creating good chances," he said. "And then at certain points there, especially halfway through the series, I felt like sometimes I was shooting the puck just to shoot it and just getting shots on net. And when I look at the end of it, how many shots I did have, and no goals, I think I need to be a bit more determined around the net and stuff like that. But at the end of the series I just completely stopped thinking about anything when I was out there. I felt better, and obviously being able to contribute on the game-winning goal felt great."
Twenty-three of Seguin's 29 shots on net came in games played at TD Garden. While Bruins coach Claude Julien said during the series that maybe Seguin was a bit nervous in front of the crowd in Toronto, the forward said he didn't dissect why his stats differed in home games vs. road games.
In fact, Game 7 at home might have been his worst of the series prior to overtime. Seguin was moved off a line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand to a line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly at the start. And there was a long stretch of the third period when Seguin didn't get off the bench at all. He didn't have a shot on net and was minus-2 through 60 minutes.
Prior to overtime, a familiar voice told him to step up: veteran leader Shawn Thornton.
"It was a pretty clear message, just basically that it's time to step up and do something," Seguin said. "Obviously I felt like the effort was there for myself and for our line, but things just weren't going in; there weren't any results. And obviously [Bergeron] had that big goal there late in the third in a game I didn't really do much and didn't have any results. So going into overtime, [Thornton] was just kind of saying, 'It's time.' … So I went out there and just did what I can."
Seguin landed two shots on Reimer in overtime, including a tip just prior to the scramble that ended with Bergeron's game-winner. The Bruins advanced to the second round and Seguin was granted another series to get his game going.
"To be honest with you, I was in a slump," he said. "It happens to hockey players all the time. It's happened to me many times already in my career.
"You know, if you look at the first round, the last few games of the regular season, I wasn't getting any results. So I think the biggest thing when you're in a slump is you've got to stop thinking about it as much as you can. And just try to do all the little things right, whether it's your own zone or whatever it may be for you personally. And that's just what I was trying to do, just get back to the basics and skate and shoot the puck. And luckily it wasn't too little, too late for being out there for a goal in OT."