BOSTON — Even those arguing most ardently for Tyler Seguin to receive increased playing time and a role on the power play had to think twice this morning while the Bruins were working on their man-advantage.
A Seguin one-timer during one drill wounded power forward Milan Lucic’s foot. The bulky winger was OK, but the collective breath of New England was held for a few seconds.
“I one-timed it but it hit the top of his skate, so it’s really like that much off the ice, so I apologized and he was laughing,” said Seguin after he practiced with the power play and on a new even-strength line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder at the TD Garden. “Lucky it was ‘Looch’ or else I’d be kind of worried. But he’s pretty tough.”
There’s no telling yet whether Patrice Bergeron will be ready to play for tomorrow night’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final with Tampa Bay. Nor can we know whether head coach Claude Julien would keep Seguin, who made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in Boston’s Game 1 loss Saturday, in a Bergeron-included lineup.
But today Seguin got some time on both power play units and then skated with Kelly as his center with Rich Peverley moved to the line with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi that Bergeron has vacated.
“I think they’re both great players, great all-around players,” said Seguin about the two veteran centers. “Kelly definitely thrives in the D zone, that’s one of his specialties. So I think he’s going to bring something new to the line because we did have those two goals scored against us in the first period [of Game 1], so hopefully he’ll help us out.”
Julien explained earlier this week that he didn’t use Seguin to try to save Boston’s 2-for-41 power play because he wanted to slowly break in the rookie to life in the playoffs. Now it appears he’s ready to give the 19-year-old a little more responsibility.
That’s the patient approach the Bruins have taken with Seguin all year. It’s a philosophy they hope will pay off the way it has in other cities with other highly regarded prospects.
“He hadn’t played a playoff game yet and we give him a little bit to chew on and then we give him maybe opportunities if need be in other areas. But he’s a young player that we care about and want to make sure that we develop him properly, and that’s part of the decision we’ve made as an organization is not to rush him through anything,” said Julien. “And the example is probably [James] van Riemsdyk from Philly, how good he has been this year and yet he was healthy scratch a lot of times last year and he’s turned out to be a pretty good player.
“So everybody has an opportunity to develop their players the way they want. And we’re doing that.”
Seguin has publicly handled his situation with aplomb throughout the season. Today he explained that even when he wasn’t on the power play, and wasn’t even in the lineup, he took in the power-play meetings. He watched the power-play drills from the bench a couple times last week.
So far, it seems like the development process is working, even if it’s going too slow from some people. Seguin said that he knows how many people are calling talk radio and writing stories to urge the Bruins to play him more. He appreciates the love, but is remaining patient.
“I definitely feel the love from the fans,” he said. “And maybe it’s because I’m the young guy or whatever. But it’s definitely a great feeling to have that fan support.
“But again, I’m just going to stay ready.”