BOSTON -- Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final got off to an inauspicious start for Boston Bruins right wing Tyler Seguin.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad stripped Seguin of the puck at the left point during a penalty kill and skated off on a 2-on-1 that Michal Handzus finished at 6:48 for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead.
SOG: 68 | +/-: -3
Although the Bruins went on to lose 6-5 in overtime, and the 2-2 series shifts back to Chicago's United Center for Game 5 Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), Seguin didn't let that early glitch ruin his night.
He finished with a minus-3 rating but hardly was at fault for the other goals-against while he was on the ice. He continued to jell with linemates Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille and played responsibly throughout. His steal at the Chicago blue line late in the second period earned Boston the possession that could've turned the game in its favor. However, after Seguin slid the puck to Rich Peverley and Peverley fed it to the front of the net, Kelly hit the post, despite Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford being several feet out of position.It's plays like that defensive stop that have made Seguin more valuable to the Bruins, even though the 16-goal scorer from the regular season has but one in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It was earlier this postseason, Bruins coach Claude Julien recently revealed, that Seguin went to him to ask how he could be more of a help when he wasn't scoring.
"I think I've always wanted to do that, even though it's been stressed even more by the goals that weren't going in for me, the bounces weren't going in," Seguin said about becoming a complete player. "I think I saw that definitely in a few games in the [first-round] Toronto series, especially right off the bat.
"Again, I thought I had a very slow start to the playoffs, but I've been working harder as the days go on and I think I've been competing better, winning more battles. And I want to stay consistent with that."
The No. 2 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Seguin was cast mostly on secondary lines as a rookie. In his second season he began to skate regularly with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Seguin scored 29 goals and was enough of a two-way player to not hurt that line when it matched up against the opposition's best offensive weapons.
That trio stuck together during the 2012-13 regular season, and Seguin responded with 16 goals in 48 games. Julien, however, had to juggle that line early in the postseason because of a lack of production. Jaromir Jagr has skated with Bergeron and Marchand for most of these playoffs, while Seguin has been part of several line combinations.
If Seguin hadn't improved the other areas of his game, he might have become a liability in a bottom-six role. Julien, though, said he has liked what he's seen from the 21-year-old.
"He's played well. ... Maybe he hasn't got that goal or those goals, but he's got some assists, made some great plays on other ones that they haven't scored," Julien said. "He's forechecked, done well in the battles as far as trying to come up with the puck, all the things we ask him to do. We're not expecting him to be a real physical player because we don't try to make a player what he's not. But it's about winning battles. Battles means coming out with the puck. Whichever way you have to do it, you go out and do it. I think he's done a great job of getting in there and creating those situations to his advantage."
Seguin never is going to match a Milan Lucic or any of the other bulky Bruins forwards in the physicality department. However, in Game 2, the 6-foot-1, 182-pounder used his strength to cause a turnover by lifting the stick of Chicago forward Patrick Sharp behind the Blackhawks net prior to Kelly's game-tying goal. During Game 4, Seguin planted Chicago forward Marcus Krueger on his rear end after one puck pursuit, and Seguin then stood over Krueger for a couple seconds.
"I think it feels better than being on the other side of it, yeah," Seguin said.
Seguin started the Cup Final on a three-game assist streak before he was shut out in Game 4. He's not the only Bruins forward who's had a rough go finding a goal during the playoffs. Jagr hasn't scored in the postseason, and Peverley snapped a 16-game drought in Game 4.
Peverley's goal gave Seguin hope for getting on the board before the Cup is handed out. Asked if he'd get a confidence boost from a goal, Seguin said, "I guess I wouldn't know. I have a feeling it'd be going through the roof."
Whether Seguin's improved all-round game winds up helping the Bruins win the Cup, it will at least make him a better player they can build around in the future.
"I think I've been working hard to progress my all-round, complete type of game," he said. "Obviously nowhere near [Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron], but trying to go in his footsteps. But I think I've just been focusing on the little things and definitely in my own end."