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Seguin's Learning Curve

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins -
When Daniel Paille netted the overtime winner for the Bruins in Game 2, Tyler Seguin's reaction was about as celebratory as if he'd scored himself.

He, of course, had sent the perfect feed over to Paille for the tally.

Seguin was happy the team had found a way to win - and happy he could find a way to contribute.

Following the game, Paille had said his new linemate was "on a mission." Seguin followed up with another assist on Paille's second straight winner in a 2-0 shutout of Chicago in Game 3.

"I think right now I am just trying to work harder every day and just keep pushing for wins and do what I can," said Seguin, who felt like despite not scoring, he was helping out his team push towards their goal.

Given his progress, when he made a mistake on his first power-play shift in the Bruins' eventual 6-5 overtime loss to Chicago Wednesday night in Game 4 that evened the series at 2-2, he wasn't very pleased with that hitch in his game.

The miscue led to a Blackhawks' two-on-one, and a shorthanded tally against. No. 19 held himself accountable.

"I knew the guy was there but I still almost got surprised by him," said Seguin, of the miscue. "I've been very good at being hard on my stick but he stripped me there, and I got caught flat-footed, so I couldn't catch up with the play. It was just one that, you'd like that back."

Confidence is key at this time of year. The extra jump that we saw in Rich Peverley's stride in Game 4 after he finally found the back of the net since May 6, shows the immediate impact it can have on the game at hand, and the ones to follow.

On the flip side, it's important to not let a mistake chip away at that confidence.

Take a page out of 22-year-old defenseman Torey Krug's book.
"What’s important is the coaches have shown confidence in me to do that. Even after Game Two, I had a turnover, but I was out the next shift," Krug has said. "That’s important for me, I think. Mentally you’re still in it."

Similarly, the 21-year-old Seguin immediately wanted to bounce back in the Game 4 Wednesday night, following the mistake.

"With that first power-play goal I gave up, I got hard on myself there and wanted to improve," said Seguin. "And then they popped a couple more, so you just got to face the music, respond, and get ready for the next game."

Coach Gives Him a Boost

Coaches sometimes look for a response, some sort of reaction from a player. For Coach Julien, he knows his players and has confidence in them, with their strengths and their abilities, their character. In return, he has their trust.

We saw it when Milan Lucic was struggling offensively during the regular season, and when Rich Peverley was a healthy scratch. Coaches try every method, and try to push every button, to get their players going.

But when Seguin wasn't scoring this postseason, had been delegated to a "third line" role, and was having trouble finding his scoring touch, he eventually opted to go to his Coach and say, 'What can I do to help my team?'

It wasn't easy for the forward, who knew he hadn't been able to assist the team scoring-wise this postseason like he knew he could.

"That's a relationship I think coaches always have to have with players, more today than ever," said Julien, of it being easy to be open and honest with his players, like he was with Seguin. "There was a time back when I played that you didn't really ever bother the coach. You either played or you didn't. If you didn't, you found a way to get back in the lineup."

"Today it's a different concept, players want to know, they need guidance - you give it to them. "They know that door has always been open for conversation. Doesn't mean they will hear what they want to hear, but they'll hear the truth."

"Tyler wanted to know how he could help the team."

Focusing on the Little Details

In Games 2 and 3 against Chicago, Seguin was battling and creating more for his team offensively, assisting on Daniel Paille's overtime winner and helping to contribute to his new line's success with Paille and Chris Kelly. The hustle was there.

"It’s still my third year, so I have a lot to learn," Seguin said prior to Game 4 in Boston. "Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, you know you can get better in other areas. I think that’s been my mentality. I’m enjoying these playoffs, especially as of late. I’m just working on little things."

Not scoring has forced him to make sure he's trying to be a workhorse in the rest of the areas on the ice.

"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 earlier this week, when asked by a reporter when he realized he wanted to be a more all-around player.

"I think I saw that in a few games in the Toronto series, especially right off the bat. Again, I thought I had a very slow start to the playoffs, but I’ve been working hard as the days go on and I think I’ve been competing better, winning more battles. I want to stay consistent with that."

Battling to the End

If you're holding your breath for Seguin to break out, there are at least two more games of the Stanley Cup Final to continue that trend.

But for his Coach, Seguin just needs to keep battling.

"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," said Julien.

"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 that 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."

Continuing to Learn

Seguin may already be a Stanley Cup Champion, but the 21-year-old knows he still has much to learn about the game.

He goes over video all the time with Assistant Coach Doug Jarvis, who helps him point out the details in his game, and where he can improve.

"I’m still only a couple years in this league - I have a lot more to learn. It’s definitely been a learning curve."

His teammates understand that learning curve.

"When you lead your team in scoring one year, you're definitely expected to the following year. But I think Seggy, he's learned a lot the last few years and he's dealt with adversity before and shouldn't be any different this time," said Paille.

His Coach understands it as well.

"I think he had a slow start obviously in that Toronto series," Coach Julien said the day following the B's overtime win in Chicago, where Seguin set up the winner.

"But his game got better. When you see his compete level, how hard he works to get to the puck, get the puck, hang on to it, stuff like that, it got better."

"Right now the only thing you're kind of waiting for is the end result. The end result doesn't always have to be a goal because what he did [in Game 2] is just as good as a goal, on that pass to Dan Paille."

"He's only a 21-year-old kid, this is his third year. Sometimes patience doesn't mean just for one year - patience means a little more than a year."

"As long as he's growing and getting better, I'm going to keep supporting him."

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