BOSTON – Although he seemed to be the only one unaware of the situation, Tyler Seguin will be the Bruins’ healthy scratch tonight when they host Montreal at TD Garden.
The recent recall of fellow rookie Jordan Caron gave the Bruins 13 available forwards. It was pretty obvious during line drills at morning skate today, when Seguin filled in for the resting Mark Recchi on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, that the No. 2 overall pick from last June would find himself in the press box for the Habs game.
“I don’t think we have to overanalyze this guys,” said head coach Claude Julien, who rarely reveals his game scratches in the morning. “We have to sit somebody out and I know who he is, I know where he was drafted, I know all that stuff. I think right now, we brought Caron up, who we feel is a good fit on that fourth line, which I’m sure you guys know. And then [Zach] Hamill is here to have a look at. There’s a guy who’s in his third year pro, and he needs to have a look too. Right now, that’s the choice we’ve made.”
After he came off the ice with a group that included Hamill, Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart and the suspended Daniel Paille, Seguin said he hadn’t been given any indication whether he’d be playing tonight.
After he came off the ice with a group that included Hamill, Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart and the suspended Daniel Paille, Seguin said he hadn’t been given any indication whether he’d be playing tonight. The last four games, he has skated 9:26 or less, including just 6:37 at Carolina in the first game after the All-Star break. He has struggled to make the most of his time, not just with a lack of production (he has scored just twice in his last 16 games) but a lack of purpose in his play and no semblance of physicality.
He said he recognizes that he needs to better adjust to his limited role when he’s in the lineup.
“I’ve got to earn everything I get. Whether it’s five minutes or 10 minutes a night, I’ve got to be taking advantage of it,” Seguin said. “Even if I’m staying on the bench for a while, I’ve got to be able to keep my legs going and that’s something I’m not used to but something I’ve got to change.”
The drop-off in Seguin’s play has been as obvious to the coaching staff as it has been to this blog and other astute observers.
“There’s a lot on his plate right now. I think that’s what people have to understand. There’s a lot on his plate right now,” said Julien. “And I know he’s lost a bit of his edge and there’s been times when he’s lost the puck when he’s a guy that should be able to hold onto it. And there’s parts of his game that slipped a little bit.
“But that doesn’t change the outlook of what we think of him, it’s just a matter of I think it’s a phase he’s going through this year. … It’s a lot different at this level than what he’s been used to. It’s never a bad thing to watch, it’s never a bad thing to get a rest at this time of year because we know that players do get tired after the 50-plus games and all the travel and everything that’s going on. And this is his first time going through this kind of schedule.”
Seguin was also a healthy scratch Dec. 15 at Buffalo. He embraced it as a learning experience sitting in the press box with assistant coach Doug Jarvis. He responded with an assist in the Bruins’ next game, and after six point-less games he registered one goal and one assist at Buffalo New Year’s Day.
With Montreal in town tonight and a home-and-home series with Detroit coming up over the weekend, this is the perfect opportunity for Seguin to educate himself from afar and then get back in uniform for the stretch run. The Bruins haven’t given up on him, they’re just sending a message that there’s an expectation on him, and everyone else in the lineup, that he meet a certain level of performance and he hasn’t been doing that.
He seems to have an understanding of those expectations.
“I think getting a little more involved in the corners and battling and grinding a bit more,” he said. “In juniors, I kind of was able to stay on the outside a bit more and let other guys do that [before] I’d get the puck in the middle and go. Here, the good players are guys who can do that but also get their nose dirty. That’s the way hockey is, so that’s something I’ve got to adapt to and learn.”
Some will cry that Boston is “killing the kid’s confidence,” but that can’t be farther from the truth. The Bruins have been more than patient with Seguin, as he has skated in 51 games and even spent unearned time on the power play for stretches. Boston’s now making sure it puts the best lineup on the ice against some of the best teams in the league, and showing that at this stage of the season winning games trumps nurturing underperforming rookies.
That’s what organizations with Stanley Cup aspirations do.