After a rookie season where he clearly struggled to find his game at the NHL level, Tyler Seguin sat in the press box as a healthy scratch and watched as the Bruins knocked off the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers in the first two rounds of the NHL Playoffs.
An injury to forward Patrice Bergeron in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals opened the door for Seguin to get a spot in the Bruins lineup.
In the Bruins Game 1 Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Seguin scored and added an assist in just less than 10 minutes of time on ice, a decent playoff debut for the rookie.
After seeing just 2:53 of ice time in the first period it looked like a typical night of six to eight minutes of ice time for Seguin.
Then the second period came, and things quickly changed for the 19 year old, a period that the rookie will never forget.
Down 2-1 early in the second, Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder and flew through the neutral zone using his speed to split the defenseman. Seguin found himself alone with Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson and roofed home a backhander after a beautiful fake.
About six minutes later and now up a goal, Seguin and Nathan Horton rushed up the ice on a 2-1; Horton fed the puck to Seguin who fired a shot past the glove of Roloson to give the Bruins a two-goal-lead, Seguin’s first multi-goal-game in his young career.
Still in the second and the Bruins lead down to one, the black and gold found themselves on the power play. Seguin fired a shot on net initially stopped by Roloson, but Ryder collected the rebound and backhanded the puck past Roloson.
With time winding down in an already eventful second period, Seguin was at it again. The rookie collected the puck along the half-wall and fed Chris Kelly with a beautiful pass just before taking a hit, Kelly’s shot was stopped, but once again Ryder was there to put away the rebound.
Seguin finished the period with two goals and two assists in about six minutes of time on ice, by far the best the rookie has played all season.
The chemistry shown between Seguin and Ryder was an exciting thing to watch, Ryder who assisted on Seguin’s goal in Game 1, also assisted on Seguin’s first career NHL goal in October.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien was very pleased from what he got from the duo.
“Yeah it was. And I think you can’t forget [Chris] Kelly in there either. When you look back to before Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] got injured, there was Kelly, [Michael] Ryder and [Rich] Peverley on that line that seemed to do extremely well. Kelly seems to fit really well also with Ryder, but those two guys, big games. I mean four goals between the two of them and certainly a big reason why we won this game tonight. But Mike [Michael Ryder] played well and like I said, Tyler was really, really good for us with just going out there with lots of confidence. And it was nice to see and that’s the part that we expect out of Tyler moving forward, and hopefully that continues.” said Julien.
Seguin knew how important it was for him to show what he was capable of doing on the ice, and the rookie certainly opened some eyes.
”Yeah, I’m not thinking too much into that. I know if the injury came, and it’s tough losing one of your best players, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] I wanted to take advantage of my ice time, whatever it may be and stay consistent with that. Tonight I thought I had another strong game and if the opportunity comes next game, I’ll try to extend It.” said Seguin.
With Bergeron most likely making his return Thursday night in Tampa for Game 3, someone has to sit out, and there’s no way that person can be Seguin.
The candidate most likely to watch from the press box may be veteran forward Shawn Thornton. Thornton plays a key role for the Bruins as the teams “enforcer”, but in a huge playoff series like this when goals are needed, Thornton’s role certainly gets reduced.
We all know the Bruins fans want Seguin in the lineup. The place went nuts every time he hopped onto the ice, and the chants of “Seguin, Seguin, Seguin” were pretty cool for the rookie.
“I did feel that. Obviously it’s a great compliment whenever you have great fan support, so I definitely appreciate that.” added Seguin.