BOSTON, MA – After the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 it made for a short offseason for the entire club, but particularly for young forward Tyler Seguin as he prepared for his second full NHL season.
Seguin posted 11 goals and 11 assists in 74 regular season games in a strong rookie campaign, and the external expectations were set high for the second overall pick in the 2010 draft to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump”.
The 20-year-old forward did all but slump in the 2011-12 season, as he scored a team-high 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points, while he established himself as the youngest player to lead the team scoring in franchise history.
“I set a lot of goals and I hit most of them, obviously it’s just about continuing to improve and staying consistent with that,” Seguin said on the team’s breakup day.
“So I think having really more of an offseason and being mentally and physically prepared it can be a great one and I’ll be ready for next year.”
Before Seguin left the TD Garden for the offseason, he was pressed on his production during the team’s first round exit against the Washington Capitals.
After being held scoreless in the first five games against the Capitals, Seguin recorded an assist in Game 6 before he scored the game-winning overtime goal to force a Game 7 and keep the B’s season alive.
In Game 7, Seguin followed his strong effort and scored a goal – a diving effort between two Caps players to knock in a loose rebound – to tie the game 1-1 and put his team in a position to advance to the next round.
“Obviously I didn’t find too much production the first five games,” Seguin said. “I thought I was still doing good in my D zone and the neutral zone.
“I thought I was competing well and in Games 6 and 7 it started paying off a little bit more. I thought I was really bearing down on my chances on not gripping my stick too hard. I guess it was nice to finish off the way I did but maybe a little too late.”
Above all, perhaps Seguin’s greatest feat this season was the strides he made towards improving his defensive game, according to Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
“Well, I thought Tyler made some great progress this year,” Julien said. “We all know about his offensive skills and skill level and I thought he did a great job of producing for us this year.
“As everybody knows with this organization and the way we approach our team, we always expect more than that from the player and when you look at how Tyler developed in his two-way game also is very impressive.”
However, Julien acknowledged that he was cautious as he emphasized that part of Seguin’s game, making sure he kept No. 19’s scoring touch in tact..
“The one thing we don’t want to take away is his offensive talent and his skill and we’ll always push for that to be the first and foremost thing from his game,” Julien said. “But for him to be able to add that [defensive ability] to his game was really impressive for me this year and extremely proud and pleased with the way he handled this year.”
Off the ice, Seguin has made a dedicated effort towards earning the team’s respect in the locker room – something he said is most important to him.
“I think with more games played and just being on the team and showing I wanted to improve, I really wanted to do all of the above to show the guys I want to be a part of this team and do all of the above for the guys because we are a big family,” Seguin said.
For Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, the most refreshing improvement he saw was Seguin’s maturity as a player and as a person.
“His maturity away from the ice has grown leaps and bounds also,” Chiarelli said. “It’s kind of cool to watch a young kid develop like that off the ice too.
“And he has his moments, you probably see some of his moments on the internet once in a while,” Chiarelli joked. “But we whack him after that and he comes back smiling and he’s figuring it out. He’s a good kid and he’s a really good player.”