BOSTON — For those concerned that sitting out the first 11 games of the Bruins’ playoff run might have rookie Tyler Seguin hanging his head, don’t worry.
“I feel more confident than I have all year,” he said today at the TD Garden, where the Bruins didn’t practice.
Seguin’s going to need a full tank of bravado this weekend, as he’s expected to get in the lineup for the first time in the postseason because of the mild concussion suffered by center Patrice Bergeron. Seguin is penciled in as the right winger on a line with Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley for the start of Boston’s Eastern Conference Final series with Tampa Bay.
If just watching and learning what the Stanley Cup playoffs are like from the press box didn’t do enough to prepare Seguin, he says that the second half of the regular season picked up in pace and intensity enough to at least give him an idea.
Ultimately, the only way to have a feel for the playoffs is to be thrown into them. And the best way to get ones feet wet might be to come out of the blocks hitting, even if you only recorded 20 hits during your 74 games in the regular season.
“Absolutely,” said Seguin when asked if he’s ready to hit someone. “I think that comes with playoffs and the excitement and you’ve got to compete, you’ve got to battle and I’m going to show I have courage and passion and I’ve got to get in there and get involved right away.”
“Obviously I don’t want to change my game,” he continued when the conversation turned to throwing a hit on the first shift. “My game is not a run-and-gun type of player hitting everyone. But if there’s a check to be finished, especially in the playoffs, that’s something I know I need to do.”
The Bruins will take any contribution Seguin can make. If he’s unable to finish offensively, then he might have to find a way to make his presence felt physically or with a big defensive play on the back check.
Should the Bruins manage to survive without Bergeron for however long he’s out, and Seguin actually does the things he says he will, this cup of playoff hockey might be just what last June’s No. 2 overall draft pick need to further his development.
After all, at this time last year there were expectations he’d be an impact player, not a bit supporting actor. Seguin still holds those big-time dreams even after a rough rookie season.
“I know it’s tough to be here and I know how hard it is to stay in the lineup, especially being a young kid like I am,” said the 19-year-old Seguin, who put up 11-11-22 totals in 74 games. “But I’ve been working hard just this year. It’s such a big learning curve, I know it’s going to help me in the playoffs and definitely for years to come in my career.”