Living with rookie mistakes gives Bruins best chance to win

Seguin/By S. Bradley

I wouldn’t buy the theory that Tyler Seguin’s healthy scratch Wednesday night in Buffalo lit some sort of fire under him before his excellent performance in the loss at Montreal tonight if you threw in a free Snuggie.

I made my opinion on the Seguin benching very clear last night, and won’t waver from it. Instead, I use tonight’s one-assist, two-shot-on-goal performance by the Bruins rookie in a hard-fought 4-3 loss at Montreal to further prove my point.

The Bruins are a better, more dynamic offensive team with Seguin in the lineup, even if he makes a blunder here or there. The team is built around the type of defense and goaltending that should be able to cover up most mistakes.

And that’s why if the Bruins are wont to do it, they could ride the skills of their two rookies into the top 10 in offense in the league – which paired with their elite-level defense would obviously generate enough wins to at least earn home-ice advantage for the playoffs.

Seguin and defenseman Steve Kampfer, who in just his fourth NHL game played a career-high 22:17 (third-most among Bruins’ defensemen), are the type of players that take offensive predictability out of the equation and keep defenses guessing — the type of players that are rare on the Bruins’ roster.

Watch how opposing defensemen have to take an extra stride or two backwards when Seguin is moving forward with the puck. Marvel at how Kampfer can either place shot wide from the point in an area where all a Bruins forward need do is win a battle to get to the puck, or can fire a shot that causes a rebound off a goaltender’s pad or blocker.

Sure there are going to be mistakes. One Kampfer error tonight led to a Tomas Plekanec breakaway, as the Canadiens forward guessed right after Kampfer twice shot wide and realized the rookie would probably become impatient and try to unload on a shot on goal. Plekanec blocked the shot and was off to the races. Kampfer endured a couple tough shifts getting out of his own end as well.

Kampfer/By S. Bradley

For every mistake Kampfer has made in his brief NHL tenure, however, there have been three or four excellent plays. As I’ve written before, Kampfer’s approach and playing style could prove contagious with the rest of the Bruins the longer the rookie is with the parent club, which will definitely result in more goals for than goals against.

The same could be said for Seguin. Given enough ice time – and the speedster was again limited to just 10:42 tonight with no power-play time – Seguin’s speed and skills would probably result in enough dangerous offensive plays to offset any turnovers at the blue lines or missed coverage in the defensive zone. He just needs the coaching staff to give him a little more rope.

There are a lot of Bruins veteran players on this roster that have played in this city, for this coaching staff and in this system for a long time. Things can get stale. A little youthful enthusiasm and – more importantly – speed and skill, can go a long way toward diversifying Boston’s game. When it comes to the Bruins’ oft-repeated mantra of being “tougher to play against,” there are more ways than one to be tougher to defend. The speed and threat of something terrific that comes with Seguin’s on-ice presence is tough to defense. The quick passing and ability to carry the puck across the blue line with poise and confidence that Kampfer brings the Bruins is tough to defend.

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