-- The irony of the situation was not lost on Tyler Seguin
The Boston Bruins
rookie was sitting in the press box Wednesday as a healthy scratch for the first time in his young career, watching his teammates lose to 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres
As Seguin looked around HSBC Arena, he saw all the preparations for the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship that begins a day after Christmas, a tournament he was eligible to play in for his native Canada, and a tournament he missed last year when he was cut as a 17-year-old.
It also happened to be the same day Canada announced its roster for this year's event.
Reports emerged last month that the Bruins were considering making Seguin available to play for Canada this year, but they were squashed when Boston GM Peter Chiarelli told Seguin early this month that he wasn't going anywhere.
Then Seguin was felled with a flu bug that knocked him out of the lineup for a 2-1 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers
on Saturday, a lineup coach Claude Julien
didn't want to change for Wednesday's division match-up in Buffalo.
So Seguin watched in a healthy state, and he said he learned something as he got a different perspective on the game and listened in on the coaches sending comments down to the bench.
But still, he couldn't help but notice his surroundings.
"It was a little weird sitting there and seeing all the IIHF flags all around the arena and thinking that could have been me," Seguin said. "I told myself last year that if I ever got the opportunity again I wouldn't make the same mistake. But I didn't get that opportunity because I stayed here, and I'm happy for that."
Practically every Canadian-born hockey player dreams of representing Canada at the WJC, a holiday-season tradition that has an entire nation glued to their television sets, cheering on the red and white.
Seguin doesn't deny he dreamed of the day he would be one of the players his country would be watching over the holidays, but that dream took a big back seat to the one he's living now.
"Your whole life, your dream and your goal is to make the NHL, then you have a side goal to play for your country and win a gold medal," he said. "But all through junior my goal was to win a Stanley Cup one day, and if I have to sit in the stands to help my team, I'm going to do what it takes for me to get there."
Julien called Seguin's status for Thursday's game against the Montreal Canadiens
(7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS) a game-time decision, but he commends the way his rookie has reacted to his decision.
"He's gone through a lot for an 18-year-old," Julien said, "and he's handled it well."
Seguin is lucky there's someone on his own team who has a good idea of what he might be going through, as Patrice Bergeron
also made the jump to the NHL at 18. While Bergeron never was a healthy scratch during his rookie season, he still offered a little advice to his teammate.
"I just tell him to have fun, to enjoy every moment on and off the ice," Bergeron said. "But at that age, you just have to be a sponge and soak in everything you can."
Seguin says he did just that Wednesday in Buffalo, but he's ready to take what he's learned and apply it on the ice against the Canadiens.
"I'm taking the positives out of it. It was a new experience, a new perspective on the game," he said. "I'm ready to get back in the lineup when I get back in."
"I'm taking the positives out of it. It was a new experience, a new perspective on the game. I'm ready to get back in the lineup when I get back in." -- Tyler Seguin
If that happens to be Thursday, Seguin will be part of a huge swing game between two division rivals.
The Bruins sit two points behind the division-leading Canadiens but also hold two games in hand, meaning a Boston win tonight would catapult them from eighth in the Eastern Conference to third, while Montreal would be knocked out of the division lead for the first time since Oct. 23.
The teams sit 1-2 in the League in team goals-against per game and feature two of the top goalies in the League in Boston's Tim Thomas
and Montreal's Carey Price
With all that's on the line in terms of positioning in the standings, it should be a hotly-contested game.
"It's a tight League and you have to win often or you'll be out of things," Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill
said. "Every point is huge, but tonight is bigger than most."