BOSTON — As the elder statesman of the Bruins, Mark Recchi is expected to pass on his sage advice whenever possible.
However, as of this afternoon he hadn’t hit up rookie Tyler Seguin with any words of wisdom about playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time … yet.
“I’ll probably talk to him before he plays on Saturday, or maybe even [Friday],” said Recchi today after an intense practice at the TD Garden. “But right now it’s letting him enjoy practice, having a good feel out there, letting him have fun with it. You don’t want to start talking to him too early. So he’s worked hard all year to get better and better, and he has. And it’s a great opportunity for him. You’re going to have injuries throughout the playoffs and you need guys to step in. And this is a great opportunity for a young guy to come in and get his first taste of it.”
Patrice Bergeron’s concussion has opened a spot for Seguin, who was a healthy scratch for Boston’s first 11 playoff games. He should make his playoff debut Saturday in Game 1 of Boston’s Eastern Conference Final series with Tampa Bay.
After watching the playoffs for a couple weeks, Seguin’s eager to be a part of them. His coach is eager to see the 19-year-old turn his words about being ready into actions that prove he can be a difference-maker on the game’s biggest stage.
“I mean, Seguin goes into a spot here right now, and we all know he’s capable of making plays, and it’s going to be his first playoff game. We’ve got to give him that opportunity to get his feet wet. And understand, when we say getting his feet wet, you’ve got to give him that opportunity,” said Julien. “He’s also got to show that he deserves to be there and deserves to stay there. And he’s well aware of that.
“Anyone who comes into the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who we put in there, you’ve got to be able to do the job. It’s not about teaching, it’s not about anything else but the moment and the importance of what that means. So that’s where we’re at in regards to that. We feel good about his game, what he’s capable of bringing, and that’s why he’s still here. He’s been with us all year and we chose to keep him here because he’s got some assets that help our hockey club.”
Although he’s replacing Bergeron in the lineup, Seguin will probably not take the spot between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi on the second line. All week Chris Kelly has filled that spot in practices, while Seguin has skated on right wing with Rich Peverley at center and Michael Ryder on the other side.
Peverley and Seguin built up some chemistry when they played together, along with Kelly, during the second half of March.
“I think it’s going to go well,” said Peverley. “We’ve played well together in the past and it’s about using our speed and using our assets. I think if we do a good job of getting in on the forecheck and bring a little bit of energy try to be good defensively, hopefully we can help the team a lot.”
Recchi’s first playoff game came in 1991 against New Jersey. He doesn’t remember much about that game, but that series stands out for him as the toughest one the Penguins faced that season (they won in seven games) en route to the Stanley Cup championship.
He said all the talk about the playoffs is nothing compared to what it will feel like when Seguin’s finally on the ice and the puck drops. Although he hasn’t yet given Seguin a pep talk, he gave a little hint of what the message would be when asked today.
“You get out there your first shift, you’re going to find out,” said Recchi. “Just make sure you’re ready and do a smart thing. Get in there, maybe get bumped, go get a bump and get yourself physically involved in the game, emotionally involved and you’ll be fine.”