There are certainly a lot of Wednesday morning general managers and coaches in the fan base of the Boston Bruins.
Within seconds of Tyler Seguin’s incredible breakaway goal during the second period of Boston’s 6-5 win over Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night, Twitter and Facebook exploded with “Seguin should have been playing all along” and “Wow, Claude (Julien). Nice call on sitting Seguin for the first two rounds” and “Fire Claude for not playing Seguin.” Not to mention many others not fit for print.
After Seguin scored a pair of goals and assisted on two others in last night’s win, it is certainly easy to say he should have been playing all along. Maybe if he had, he would have had a great playoff prior to this. We will never know. My belief, however, is he is finally breaking out because of Claude Julien, not in spite of him.
There is nothing from the regular season that should have led anyone to believe Seguin was ready to break out. The 19-year-old rookie had 11 goals and 11 assists and had a plus/minus of minus-4 in 74 regular season games. Those are hardly eye-popping stats – except maybe for the minus-4 on a team that was among the best in the league in goal differential.
Let’s remember that those who believe Zdeno Chara is unworthy of the Norris Trophy point at his ridiculous plus/minus rating as worthless because it is inflated because he plays for the Bruins. If Chara’s plus-33 rating is inflated, Seguin’s must be as well.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of Julien. I think he sticks to what he has always done too much and doesn’t hold guys accountable for their actions often enough. However, one guy he has always held accountable is Seguin, and in this case, it looks like it may have paid off.
Julien has been quoted numerous times as saying Seguin needs to learn responsibilities in all three zones – that he needs to protect the puck better and play tougher in the defensive and neutral zones. He is absolutely correct. Seguin was not winning battles, he turns the puck over too much, and he was out of position often during the regular season – especially during the final three weeks as the Bruins’ brass were finalizing the playoff roster.
Julien made Seguin feel like a part of the playoff atmosphere through the first two rounds. He practiced as part of the “Black Aces”, and he dressed for pre-game skate for every one of the first 11 games of the playoffs. He was involved in all aspects of preparation, including practices, strategy, and film sessions. He was in the locker room for every pre-game meeting and prep time.
It appears to have paid off. I’m not ready to put him, to paraphrase Bill Parcells, in the Hall of Fame yet, but Seguin, at least for two games, looks like the guy I touted back in June as the guy I’d take No. 1 in the NHL Draft. He looks like the guy scouts said could become a great two-way player like Steve Yzerman (Seguin’s hero – and mine), Joe Sakic, or Pavel Datsyuk.
And, begrudgingly, I have to give a lot of the credit for that to Claude Julien for forcing Seguin to learn how to play both ends of the ice, and not letting him out there until he did.
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