<
>

Tyler Seguin changing on the fly

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The only goal Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin has scored this season was an empty-net tally against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 28.

When the team returned to Boston the next day, Seguin's linemate Brad Marchand made sure to give his close friend a good ribbing.

"He had a beautiful goal -- highlight reel," Marchand said jokingly. "He made a great turnover, went end to end, deked the goalie out and put it in the open net. You couldn't ask for a better goal from him."

Along with that one goal, Seguin has only three assists for four points in eight games this season, including a plus-5 rating. Those aren't the numbers most would expect from the talented, sniper-like forward, but the third-year pro believes he's contributing.

"I feel like I've been playing great," Seguin said after Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "I feel like I'm playing a great two-way game. Against the Leafs last game, I thought I was playing my best game so far this year."

Seguin has had numerous scoring chances, but he has been able to light the lamp only on that empty-netter. He has a total of 27 shots on net in eight games.

"Sometimes they're going in and sometimes they're not, and that's just how the game goes," he said. "Right now, the puck's not going in, but I'm trying not to think about it too much. I'm just playing the best I can. Whether I'm scoring right now or I'm not scoring right now, I still say that I've been playing really well."

During the NHL lockout, Seguin was one of 12 Bruins players to play overseas. He played for Biel in Switzerland and recorded 25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games. Of course, with the bigger ice surfaces in Europe, he can dominate with his speed.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, Seguin's other linemate, also played in the Swiss league and scored 11 goals, with 18 assists, in 21 games for Lugano. In eight games with the Bruins, Bergeron has only one goal and four assists for five points, while posting a plus-4 rating.

Even though there's a vast difference in Seguin's numbers between the two leagues, he doesn't want anyone to think the Swiss league isn't legitimate.

"It's not easy there," he said. "People need to go over there because it's a lot harder than you think. It's a very good league. It's so different. When you come back here, you've got to try to adapt back. Even Bergy can't seem to find the net right now. We're playing on bigger ice over there."

In fact, Seguin is beginning to second-guess his decision to play overseas given his current struggles.

"I still don't think I regret going over there, but sometimes I've been thinking the last few days maybe going there wasn't the greatest idea. But I wanted to play and I had fun times," Seguin said.

Bruins coach Claude Julien recently said it's been obvious that Seguin is having trouble transitioning to the smaller ice surfaces in North America.

"If we look at his stats, it's easy to see that he may not be where we all want him to be," Julien said. "I don't think he's bad. Can he be better? Sure he can. I thought he played a decent game in Toronto. He was skating well, forechecking, and I thought he was a much better player. Hopefully the results will come. Right now, he looks a little snakebitten, even in practice, scoring goals and stuff like that.

"Players go through that during a season, and he's been playing since early on this year. Maybe he left a lot of goals over there. We've got to get him to bring some of those back with him. Certainly, he played a lot on Saturday night, so that was encouraging."

Despite his lack of offensive production, Seguin has been pleased with his increased contributions on the defensive end of the ice, which is something he's been trying to improve since his rookie season in 2010.

"I think it's gotten better," he said. "Last year I thought I got pretty good at it, so I'm just trying to stay consistent, and I think I have so far."

After his initial growing pains as a rookie, Seguin had a breakout season in 2011-12. He scored 29 goals and added 38 assists for 67 points in 81 games. Based on that success, he was expected to improve even further in 2012-13. But the lockout and his playing time in Switzerland have stalled his progress in Year 3.

"It's different," Seguin said of his experiences this season. "I have more experience than I did the last couple of years, obviously more than my first year. It's a shortened season, so it's my first time experiencing that. It's still exciting playing so much."

Marchand is the only member of the Bruins' second line who didn't play in Europe during the lockout, and he's playing well, with five goals and one assist. However, he suffered what appeared to be a left-shoulder injury when he slammed into the end boards late in the second period during the Bruins' 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Marchand missed the third period and did not practice with the Bruins on Monday; Bruins forward Gregory Campbell replaced Marchand on the line with Seguin and Bergeron. If Marchand is not able to play against the Canadiens on Wednesday in Montreal, Campbell's presence on that line could help Seguin.

"With Tyler on the right side with real high-end offensive skills, I think Bergy can benefit from a guy who's a good two-way player as well," Julien said. "Gregory sometimes doesn't get enough credit, but when he's got some players like that to play with, you're going to see him going to the front of the net, you're going to see him grinding it out, and he's going to give that line some offense."