For the past 11 games, Tyler Seguin has watched and watched and watched as the Boston Bruins reached the Eastern Conference finals by rallying to beat Montreal and sweeping Philadelphia. While fans debated when and if Seguin would/should be in the line-up, Seguin practiced hard every day and was told repeatedly to be ready, as you never know when he would be needed.
That time is now.
With Patrice Bergeron sidelined for at least Game 1 (if not more) of the finals, Seguin will get the call. He will not be expected to replace Bergeron, who has been Boston’s best overall player in the playoffs. He will simply be asked to play with speed and take care of the puck in the defensive and neutral zones.
At practice on Monday, Seguin was skating on right wing on the third line, with Rich Peverley at center and Michael Ruder on left wing.
“You never want someone to get hurt, but it’s part of the game and you need to be ready,” Seguin said. “I wanted to make sure I was ready to go if I got a shot.”
Without Chris Kelly, who was moved to the second line in Bergeron’s spot with Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand, the third line will not be as solid defensively. However, despite Kelly’s playoff production (4-3-7), the line should be more explosive offensively with Seguin’s speed and shooting ability.
Julien will need to be careful when the line sees the ice, as it would not match-up well with either of Tampa’s top two lines. Expect it to be matched with Tampa’s third and/or fourth lines.
Despite the fact Julien has not used Seguin in the playoffs yet, he is confident the 19-year-old will play well.
“He’s a good player and he has improved from Day 1 to now,” he said. “Right now, it’s crunch time. It’s about winning. As I mentioned to him, it’s not so much about being patient and seeing things. It’s more about results right now. It’s going to be important that he tries and gets us some results. Results for him would certainly be competing really hard in all areas and utilizing his skill assets to create some scoring chances and some goals.’’
Though it will be Seguin’s first game action in the playoffs, he has experienced some of the hoopla, enthusiasm and energy, as he has participated in the pre-game skate in every one of Boston’s 11 playoff games. The hope was that by being in the dressing room and being on the ice for the pre-game, it would help Seguin learn not only what to expect, but also how to prepare.
Seguin has not played since April 10, and amassed 11 goals and 11 assists in 74 games this season. Julien said that Seguin has not been depressed while being a healthy scratch during the playoffs; in fact, Julien said his work ethic seemed only to increase. He said Seguin has been “outstanding” at practice and said the new line combination looks promising at practice.
When will they start?
The question as to when Tampa and Boston will finally play will be answered at some point tonight, after Game 6 of the San Jose-Detroit game has finished. A San Jose victory means a Thursday start is likely, while a Detroit win will push the series to a Saturday start.
Another potential problem is the fact the St. Pete Times Forum is booked for a Disney on Ice show (Toy Story 3) from Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22. This means that a Saturday-Monday series in Boston could mean Wednesday-Monday dates in Tampa. It is possible that a Saturday day game could be played before the night show for Toy Story 3 (the event listing for the Forum unofficially has Game 4 being played at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday, May 21).