Seguin Poised for Pressurized Playoff Role
BOSTON, MA - Eight current Boston Bruins have hometown ties to Toronto. But there's one in the spoked-B who the spotlight always seem to find.
Tyler Seguin, the native of Brampton, Ontario, grew up a Leafs fan like many of his teammates from the area. But when he was drafted by Boston in 2010, the pick a result of the trade that sent Phil Kessel to the Leafs, the spotlight grew, and hasn't left the B's forward since.
And with the Eastern Conference quarterfinals set to begin between the two Original Six foes, the media storm around the two forwards hasn't halted.
"I mean the only time I’ll be hearing it is answering questions from you guys after practices or after games; I’m not really thinking about it at all," said Seguin Tuesday afternoon following the Bruins' practice at TD Garden. The B's forward has said he won't be focusing on any extra attention given to him.
"It’s two teams, not two players, so I’m looking forward to an exciting playoff series."
Seguin has played his hometown team 16 times in the regular season, but with Toronto back in the posteason for the first time since 2004, he has to experience the upped level of excitement around the Leafs.
"I’m excited. It’s almost a weird feeling: almost bittersweet. I’m excited for the Leafs to be in the playoffs because I’ve been watching them my whole life. Obviously, I thought they had a great year this year, and I’m excited to be playing them for the first round series," said Seguin.
"Definitely want to be prepared; it’s still another team. Obviously I’m focused going into the first round. These rounds are the hardest to get out of."
"It’s a little extra special because it’s my hometown, but in the end, it’s still another series."
The 21-year-old has performed at a point-per-game pace against the Maple Leafs, putting up 10 goals and six assists for 16 points in those 16 career games. In 2013, Seguin recorded three points (2-1) to help the B's take the season series three games to one.
While the teams hit refresh and his stat line is 0-0=0 in posteason play against Toronto, his numbers against the team a drive away from where he grew up is certainly of note.
"I think they’re a good team. I get excited to play the Leafs," said Seguin, thinking of why the success might come more easily. "Obviously I grew up cheering for them. I go back every there summer, and that’s where all my friends and family are. You like to say you get up for every game, but those games are something extra special."
"I think he knows that a lot of people are watching. A lot of things are expected of him when we play against Toronto," added his linemate Brad Marchand (who put up four assists against Toronto this season) on why the Leafs might bring out the best in Seguin.
"The fact that he came with their pick, he's from there, he has so much friends and family there. He's obviously a superstar. I think all those things combined, he's expected to bring a lot and he rises to the occasion."
And there's usually a certain type of chant that the TD Garden breaks out when Seguin plays against Toronto.
"It just shows how much our fans care about our team," said Marchand. "Obviously it's a bit of a statement that they love Segs and that they're very happy to have Segs here. We're very lucky to have Tyler."
Seguin also feels fortunate to be part of the Bruins, and the experienced group that they have heading into the postesaon, his third in the NHL. Though, he's also aware of the challenges any first-round series poses.
"I think playing with experience can definitely be huge," said Seguin following Wednesday's morning skate eight hours prior to puck drop on Game 1. "But that being said, they say the first round is the hardest to get out of so we know that."
"I think experience or no experience, it’s going to be a great series and they’re still going to be coming flying, so, got to be ready for that."
"He’s matured a lot. He’s learned a lot," said Patrice Bergeron of his right winger. "He knows it’s not all about scoring goals. It’s about all the little details, making the simple plays that goes a long way with your teammates, you don’t recognize and notice, and he’s gotten a lot better at that and it makes him that much of a better player."
Seguin has played in 20 career NHL playoff games, putting up three multipoint outings, including a four-point spread against Tampa Bay in 2011 in his first foray into the postseason (that caused him to tie an NHL record for points in a playoff period).
His right winger Marchand has 12-9=21 totals in 32 career games, while the anchor, Bergeron, has logged 61 playoff games
With the line of Seguin and Marchand, centered by Patrice Bergeron, being in tact for much of the season, their experience not only in the playoffs, but with each other, should prove an important factor for the Bruins.
The linemates all went to dinner together earlier this week, prior to kicking off the first round, and discussed how they want to play a key role in the B's success down the stretch.
"We just know that we can be a key motivator for our team, we can bring some energy and create a lot of opportunities," said Marchand on what they talked about as a line. "We're going to be looked up to score some goals and create some opportunities, we have to rise to that occasion."
"We're going to probably be playing against their top couple lines and we have to make sure that we play strong defensively and just make sure we're consistent every night and play our best."
Since Bergeron and Marchand returned to the lineup on April 17 following their concussions, the line has offensively produced just three goals, to go along with four assists, in the seven-game stretch from April 17-28. Seguin had put together three straight games with a goal, before putting up a goal and an assist in those seven games, and Bergeron has only an assist in that span.
But, as any Bruin would tell you, the refresh button has been pushed -- the season has been reset.
"I think that where we’re going, we can be a very consistent line and as of late we’ve been getting a lot of opportunities, we felt like as a line, but haven’t been burying the puck," said Seguin following Wednesday's pregame skate.
"With that being said, it’s a new season here and we’re happy to take a breath and kind of put the season in the past and start fresh in the playoffs."