Seguin Takes Pride in Different Playoff Role, Bruins Buying In
BostonBruins.com - At the end of the regular season, Tyler Seguin was third on the Bruins in points with 32. He found the back of the net 16 times and assisted on 16 goals. His plus-23 rating was tied for first on the team and seventh in the league.
In the playoffs, regular season stats don't matter. But in this case, they frame the picture of a Bruins' forward who wants to score, but just hasn't been able to find the back of the net.
Heading into Game Four tonight at TD Garden, with the Bruins having the upper hand and the chance to close out their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Seguin has one goal and three assists in 15 playoff games.
The 21-year-old hadn't produced a point in the playoffs until playing a big role in Patrice Bergeron's overtime winner in "The Comeback."
Since that Game Seven of the first round against Toronto, Seguin has been playing on the third line. Jaromir Jagr had slotted in alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Beginning with that game, the forwards new linemates became Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.
With Gregory Campbell now out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken leg, Kelly could move onto the Merlot Line with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Kaspars Daugvins is expected to play the right wing alongside Seguin and Peverley for Game Four against Pittsburgh.
"I’m not sure what exactly is going to happen for tonight’s game but I think that Peverley has a ton of speed, he’s a great centerman and is responsible for his own zone," said Seguin, of the new third and fourth lines for tonight's game.
"He’s a player that is pretty easy to play with and whoever is on the left wing we're going to get going tonight. I think we’ve been playing well."
"I think we've been playing our role well as a third line in this series and the end of last, so whoever is going to step in, we're going to be comfortable with."
The third line as a whole, with Seguin, Peverley and Kelly, hasn't produced much offensively for the Bruins in their nine games playing together (a goal and two assists for Seguin the only points produced).
But, frankly, it hasn't mattered.
Right now, the top two lines have been taking care of the scoring output, and Seguin's line has been making sure to focus on strong defensive play.
"I think it's definitely the number one thing going through my mind," said the forward, of making sure to play a smart defensive game. "I think we're a good offensive team when our defense is going well."
"Be strong in our own zone, get momentum, get chances. All of us on our line like to score goals and that's what we like to be doing," Seguin added, of his line's role.
"But I think also in playoffs, sometimes, you have to step into shoes that you're not used to filling. I think you have to go out there - and if it's just making an extra hit, not just playing in your zone, creating chances for the next line to go out there and maybe score a goal. I think it starts from the line before as well, so we're taking a lot of pride in it right now."
Seguin used to be "the scorer" counted on - and he still is - but right now, with the way to team is moving forward, their four-line rollout has proved to be the difference.
"Yeah, I mean it’s an adjustment but in the back of your head, I keep thinking about going all the way and doing it for your team," said Seguin, of his new role in the postseason.
"I think someone has to do it. It happens always in the playoffs, someone’s doing something they’re not used to whether it’s injuries or what-not and I’m doing what I can, being without my regular position."
All Bruins Buying In
Seguin doing "something he's not used to," but buying into the team's game plan and system, made me think of a quote from Coach Julien back during the first round, when he was asked about the definition of "desperate hockey" prior to Game Six in Toronto.
"Desperate hockey is about giving everything you got. As far as our team is concerned, we need everybody to bring their A-game and everybody, no exceptions, has to respect the game plan, you go out there and execute. That's what a desperate hockey team does."
"A lot of coaches say, 'Well, a guy getting out of his comfort zone, that's desperate hockey; blocking a shot when you haven't blocked one all year, that's called desperate hockey."
While Seguin and the Bruins may not be on the brink of elimination, by Coach's definition, they've been playing desperate hockey - and its been apparent in the three games of this series. Sticking to the game plan, buying in to the system, all players knowing their roles - and executing. Gregory Campbell powering through a shift after a shot block? That's desperate hockey. Jaromir Jagr getting out of his comfort zone and engaging in checking, physicality, to set up two goals? That's desperate hockey. And you don't have to have your backs against the wall to show it.
There is not one player being counted on - all are important to the team.
"Well, that's the way I feel a team should be. Nobody should be on a pedestal," Julien told media Friday morning prior to Game Four.
"There's a lot of guys in there that you could easily put on a pedestal. Not only are they not put on a pedestal, they don't want to be put on a pedestal. I think we appreciate the fact that everybody's important."
In furthering his answer, Coach brought the Merlot Line into the mix as an example.
"As I said before, the Merlot Line has always been regarded as something special because they've been treated the same as everybody else. They're not extra players, not fourth-line guys that don't play much. They're guys that bring something to the team and to the game. Their input should be as valuable as any other input."
"So you can get a 30-goal-scorer and say, Well, he's quite a player. But you also got guys that will probably save you 30 goals. Why shouldn't they be as important?"
"Team" game, folks, team game...