BRUINS SHOULD RIDE SEGUIN'S HOT HAND AS MUCH AS THEY CANBy James Murphy
Throughout the regular season and through the first 11 games of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien did a great job of shielding rookie Tyler Seguin by minimizing his minutes (he wasn't even active for the first 11 playoff games) and keeping him out of situations in which he might be apt to make costly mistakes in the defensive zone.
Given that the 19-year-old Seguin is still pretty raw, there was nothing wrong with that approach. That patience, in fact, paid big dividends when a hungry Seguin finally got his opportunity in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
With six points (including his four-point breakout party in Game 2) in his first 23:09 of ice time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Seguin has proved he is ready for prime time. Every teammate of Seguin's acknowledged after the Bruins' thrilling 6-5 win over the Lightning that the rookie's play inspired them and gave them the boost they needed after dominating the first period of that game, yet trailing 2-1 at the intermission.
This is the time of year when teams feed off performances like Seguin's Game 2 gem, when a young kid full of enthusiasm and just the right amount of aloofness can lead his team on a run.
The Bruins are already on their deepest playoff run since 1992, but with Patrice Bergeron battling a mild concussion and possibly not at full strength even if he returns, a youthful spark is just what this team needs. And until that spark dims, Julien needs to ride the hot horse and play Seguin as much as he can, both on even strength and on the power play, and maybe even on the penalty kill with Bergeron. Their combined puck sense and speed could lead to short-handed opportunities.
Seguin is having fun and the pressure of the playoffs isn't weighing on him (not yet, anyway). Let him -- and the entire team -- feed off his maiden playoff voyage. This an already deep Bruins team up front and now it has another weapon for the Lightning to worry about. Why not use that weapon as much as possible?
BRUINS CAN'T AFFORD TO LET IT RIDE ON SEGUINBy Joe McDonald
Bruins coach Claude Julien wasted little time in deciding to keep rookie Tyler Seguin in the lineup for the foreseeable future based on the 19-year-old's performance in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
For all of the energy and offensive spark Seguin can provide, it's important to remember that the kid is still very raw. And while he started to get more physical in Game 2, which was a great sign, he is still prone to mistakes in the defensive end, the kind of mistakes that could cost the Bruins a playoff game.
His offensive burst took the Lightning by surprise, but do you think they won't be more prepared going forward? In fact, once the third period started in Game 2, Tampa Bay started taking the body a lot more on the speedy forward and that held Seguin back a little. To his credit, he didn't shy away from the contact, something he did for the majority of the regular season, but it's a safe bet the Lightning will apply more pressure on the rookie in Game 3 because of his recent success.
The more ice time Seguin gets, the more Tampa Bay will key on him. The Lightning are going to bang him and he's going to get hit like he's never been hit before. Sure, it hasn't been a physical series thus far, but it's obvious how you control the faster skaters on the ice.
Seguin needs to be ready for that.
He is still developing, and no doubt this summer will be an important one for him. Unlike a year ago, after the Bruins selected him as the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL draft, this offseason he knows exactly what to expect heading into training camp.
He can't get too far ahead of himself this spring, though. The Bruins will ride his success but they'll need to temper those expectations. Seguin is a weapon, to be sure, but the Bruins would be wise to be careful how they use that weapon.