BOSTON, MA – Tyler Seguin has yet to score a goal this postseason and has just one assist. But Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien is seeing signs that his game is coming around, especially after a solid performance from the 21-year-old in Game Two against the Rangers, in which he landed two shots on goal and registered two hits.
“I said it to our coaches after the game, I thought he played a solid game last night,” said Julien, following his team’s practice at TD Garden on Monday morning. “He competed hard, he battled, and he’s getting chances. Right now, the only thing that didn’t happen for him yesterday that I thought would’ve been good for him would’ve been to have some stats—a goal and an assist.
“But I have no complaints on Tyler’s game yesterday. I thought he played extremely hard. I think he’s coming around, and maybe it’s a good thing that he’s on that line; take a little bit of pressure off the guy and let him work his way out of it. I think that’s what’s happening right now.”
Seguin has been playing with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley since Game Seven against Toronto, with Jaromir Jagr joining his usual linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bergeron's line has been producing, and Seguin has seen his game improve against New York, but is still searching for the back of the net.
“Hard work eventually pays off,” said Seguin following Game One, in which he landed four shots and had another four blocked, including one point-blank opportunity that Rangers' defenseman Dan Girardi threw his body in front of. “[I’m] trying not to think about it too much and play hard, smarter. I thought my game wasn't great last game [Game One].
“I think it's more me, it's more mental. I wasn't thinking about it before the game, getting ready. I was just keeping it simple and thinking about simple things and not about trying to going out there and get a hat trick or what not.
“I think eventually it's going to pay off for me and I'm just going to stick with it and raise my level of my game.”
Prior to the the New York series, Seguin was looking forward to getting a fresh start, following a disappointing opening round.
“A whole new series, and once again, it’s kind of like a Game Seven,” said Seguin. “It doesn’t matter what happened before; with a new series, doesn’t matter what happened last series. You get to come in fresh and get ready to go.
“It’s a fresh start for everyone. When I look at myself, I see a new team. It’s going to be nice, but I’m excited to get things going.”
Early on in the first round against Toronto, Seguin was one of the best Bruins on the ice. He combined for 15 shots on net in Games One and Two, but could not convert. As the frustration of not scoring built throughout the remainder of the series, Seguin’s play suffered.
But he was out on the ice for Bergeron’s series-winning overtime goal in Game Seven, reunited with his old line for a brief shift. Seguin picked up his only point of the playoffs on the goal with an assist, and contributed to a strong net-front presence.
“I thought [in the Toronto series] I was kind of up and down,” he said. “I had a couple games where I thought I was playing great and wasn’t getting rewarded. And then I had a couple games where I felt I wasn’t making smart plays or smart decisions. But in the end, there in overtime, being able to get the result, especially us as a line, it definitely felt great, and it can definitely give you confidence.”
“When you look at the winning goal that Bergy scored, [Seguin] was the one that did all of the dirty work in front of the net,” Julien had said. “So, I don’t think right now it’s a matter of him not playing hard. It’s more of a matter that I think people expect and we expect that he should be a little bit more productive, be able to make a few more plays and be a bit more of a threat than right now.”
The key, Seguin said, to him firing on all cylinders, is not over-thinking.
“One hundred percent,” said No. 19. “It is just a part of growing as a player. I knew what [the hype and pressure] was to come with Toronto, but I never expected how much, not only outside noise that you try to avoid, but just everything with playoffs.
“As much pressure as I put on myself, then you can feel it from others as well.”
When Seguin is at that height – scoring goals, creating offense, using his speed to wreak havoc on opponents – he can be one of the most dangerous players in the NHL. The Bruins are hoping that player returns as the stakes get higher.
“If he finds his game we know how much of a threat he can be,” said Julien. “And we’ve got to keep working with him; that’s what we’re trying to do here.”