May 9, 2011

Seguin fully prepared for playoff debut

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin's last appearance came on Apr. 10 in a loss to the Devils. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Getting by the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals without Patrice Bergeron will be no small feat for the Boston Bruins.

Bergeron, quite simply, has done it all for the Black and Gold, from points to key faceoff wins to extremely strong play in his own end.

Tyler Seguin could never come close to filling the shoes of No. 37, but contributions from the No. 2 overall pick could go a long way toward helping the Bruins reach their first Stanley Cup finals since 1990 -- an appearance made before the rookie forward was even born.

"Absolutely," Seguin said when asked if he's been chomping at the bit to play. "April 10 was my last game and I've been waiting to play since."

After finishing off the regular season with just a single point in his final 19 games, Seguin was expectedly made a healthy scratch when the playoffs commenced. During the last month, however, the rookie winger has tried to soak up as much as he could.

"I've been put in a situation where I always get to see how the guys prepare and how much of a high-level it takes in the playoffs, the intensity and what I have to do to be ready," said Seguin.

So, too, has he learned from his vantage point high above the ice in the press box, seeing just how much things are ramped up during postseason play.

"You get to see a whole new game up there and how much time and space you have," said Seguin. "I'm ready to go. I've been looking from up top and cheering on the boys and all the intensity that comes with the playoffs. I'm ready to be a part of it."

Seguin has worked tirelessly at practice to be at the ready in case of a situation like this, an effort that earned him some praise from GM Peter Chiarelli over the weekend.

Coach Claude Julien reflect on the chat he had with the 19-year-old forward prior to the start of the playoffs and believes the past month has been a great learning experience for Seguin.

"I don’t necessarily think I told him you’re the odd man out more than you got to be ready," said Julien. "We don’t know what’s going to happen here from day-to-day. But he knew we were going to start with that lineup that we started with and experience was one of the things that we were looking for and where guys fit into certain spots. We felt we had good line combinations but I always told him to stay ready."

In order to help keep Seguin involved and close to the preparation process, Julien had the rookie take part in warm-ups just prior to the start of the tilt.

"The reason we dress him for every warm-up was that I needed him to, I guess get the experience of seeing how guys are getting ready for playoff games," the coach said. "And he was in the dressing room before it started, and I think those are things that hopefully will have allowed him to grow and get even better. Those things were done purposefully and his opportunity when it comes time to step in there and show that he’s going to be a contributor to our hockey club."

Seguin didn't know for certain that he'd be the one called upon to fill in, but now that he does, he knows he's prepared himself to the best of his abilities.

"Obviously I kind of just hoped," he said of being atop the list of players to step in. "I wanted to work as hard as I could just to show the coach staff and the boys that I'm here if I'm needed. I know I'm a young kid, so I had to work my hardest and show that I'm ready."