Led by the spectacular play of Nikolai Khabibulin
, the Edmonton Oilers continue their six-game road trip Thursday night as they invade Red Sox country with a date with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
The Oil are off to a 2-1 start on the six-game cross-continent trek that saw them win in L.A on Thursday night, lose in Phoenix Saturday, and then ride the strong play of the Bulin Wall in Montreal Tuesday before arriving upon the harbour in Boston looking to capitalize on the Stanley Cup hangover syndrome. It won’t be easy!
The Bruins, after a slow, punchless start, have now got it together with three straight wins highlighted by the emergence of number-two overall pick from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Tyler Seguin.
Seguin, was drafted as a centre but is currently playing right wing on a line which features Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. He leads the NHL with a +11 rating and leads the Bruins with eight goals and 15 points in 13 games, including five goals in his last five games.
After a quiet rookie season that saw him score 11 goals and 22 points in 74 games during the regular season, Seguin has clearly taken his game to next level this season.
This should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody!
The off-season retirement of Mark Recchi and the decision to not bring back Michael Ryder created a situation where suddenly the Bruins had an opening on the right side in their top six and the talented Seguin has made the most of it.
Seguin has gone from playing 12:12 per game last season, to 16:46 this season, with more ice-time per game than the other top-six right wing on the Bruins, Nathan Horton.
It should be noted that the number-one overall pick from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Oilers Taylor Hall
, has had a very different experience.
|Tyler Seguin (photo by Getty Images) |
The dynamic Hall put together an electrifying rookie campaign scoring 22 goals and adding 20 assists in 65 games last season. However with the return of Oilers fan favourite Ryan Smyth
on the left side, Hall has seen his ice time cut from 18:12 last season to 17:05 this season.
By his own admission, Hall has struggled a bit over the last few games registering just one point in the Oilers last five games.
Nonetheless, he has still picked up three goals and nine points this season, decent stats through the Oilers first 14 games.
Seguin’s hot start, and Hall’s tepid play of late has fuelled more discussion on the Taylor-Tyler controversy from the spring of 2010.
All of which is complete hogwash; because at the end of the day both the Oilers and the Bruins won!
Hall and Seguin are both going to be stars in the NHL for years to come, and they will always be linked together.
But, there are also going to be ebbs and flows with who is hotter at certain times.
Last season as Seguin languished on the third and fourth line in Beantown and was later scratched in the playoffs it appeared that Hall was clearly the guy.
Now that Hall is on a kid line in Edmonton that yields to Shawn Horcoff
’s and Ryan Smyth
’s line in terms of match-ups it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he may go through quiet times, especially when he can’t get on the ice for several minutes at a time like against the Canadiens on Tuesday night when the Oil took four straight penalties in the second.
Conversely, Seguin is playing with the Bruins best all-around centre Bergeron, ensuring he is on the ice in key situations. This situation though is a fluid one. The Bruins third and fourth line centres, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, are both unrestricted free agents this summer.
Is it unrealistic to think that Seguin may move to second-line center by next season behind David Krecji with Bergeron as a two-way shutdown third liner’?
If so, don’t be surprised if there are more growing pains along the way for Seguin at that time as he will surely defer to Krecji and Bergeron in certain situations.
Whatever the case, be assured that both organizations are incredibly happy with whom they drafted because in three or four years from now they both will be “the guy” when it comes to their respective teams. Bob Stauffer is the Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Host of “Oilers Now” on the Oilers Radio Rights Holder 630 CHED