As the team’s leader in points, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin has been garnering lots of attention for his offensive exploits — and rightfully so.
But there’s also a defensive improvement to his game that’s vital because a more well-rounded Seguin becomes a player the Bruins can trust regardless of the situation.
We saw the fruits of Seguin’s effort to improve in his own zone Tuesday night in the win over Ottawa. After the Senators pulled their goalie trying to cut into the Bruins’ two-goal lead in the closing minutes, head coach Claude Julien allowed Seguin to take a regular shift with his linemates. A year ago, such an assignment would’ve gone to a more experienced player.
I spoke with Seguin about this reward from the coaching staff for my story for CBSBoston.com. To me, this was the money quote from the obviously maturing speedster:
” I know I want to be that guy that [Julien] looks to not only if it’s a minute left and we’re losing but also with a minute left when we’re winning.”
As you can read in the CBS piece, Seguin is taking pride in his defensive game almost as much as he is in his offensive game. That the Bruins can now trust him to play smart and work hard even when opponents have the puck is a huge boon to the club. It’ll also be huge if Seguin continues to be aggressive with his shot and not look to pass too much. As the Bruins’ most-gifted offensive threat, he has to get over being the playmaker or being the second-year guy.
On a potential breakaway against Ottawa, he passed and turned the puck over. Later, he showed impressive patience with the puck before setting up Patrice Bergeron’s goal. But defenders will sit on his passes unless he keeps them honest with enough shots on goal.
“I feel like still growing up my whole life I’ve usually been more of a playmaker than a sniper. But I’ve always had goals, so I think I need to shoot a bit more and maybe not give away those clear shots and opportunities just to make a pretty pass or try to find another stick,” he said. “Sometimes the easy route and the best route is just getting pucks to the net, and that’s something I’m still working on but if I look at how I’ve been playing, I think I still am getting a lot of shots. So I think I am still shooting but there’s still opportunities where I need to shoot more.”
The goal here isn’t to develop Seguin into a one-dimensional player anymore than it is about making Seguin a shutdown defender. The Bruins want to make Seguin an all-around player capable of dominating at both ends when necessary. So far that plan is working, and Seguin seems to have his priorities in order when it comes to following that plan.