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Where are you, Tyler Seguin?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  May 9, 2013 09:12 AM

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0-0-0.

The magnification of those digits appears larger based on the circumstances, of course, but that is indeed the scoring line for Bruins forward Tyler Seguin through four games of the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a series Boston now leads, 3-1, thanks to Wednesday night’s pulsating overtime victory led by David Krejci’s hat trick and Tuukka Rask’s sleight of hand in net.

Seguin was once again a non-factor. He could have put the game away with only seconds remaining in regulation, but once again displayed his inability to finish and bury the puck on Leafs goalie James Reimer, who, much like Rask, elevated his game after a somewhat, shall we say, bouncy start. Seguin ended the evening with only one shot on net, and appeared tentative enough on the Bruins’ four-minute power play that he reminded of an old friend who boasted a similar characteristic.

Kaberle.

That’s not good, right?

Seguin’s failures in this series are, of course, intensified based on the fact that he’s playing in his hometown, and that Phil Kessel, the player whom his name will be linked to for his entire career, has been a dynamic, speedy force for Toronto with a pair of goals and an assist against his former team. Once Kryptonite to his scoring touch, the Bruins have had their hands full slowing Kessel’s line while the Leafs have completely corralled Seguin, who, as Jack Edwards noted during Wednesday night’s telecast, was noticeably frustrated at the morning skate as he rifled shots on net.

At least there was some improvement from his linemates in the 4-3 win. Patrice Bergeron scored his first goal of the series in the second period, cutting Toronto’s lead to 2-1, and Brad Marchand assisted on Krejci’s first goal of the evening, tying the game at two. Seguin’s highlight reel featured merely an ill-fated one-on-one decision to drive to the net. He leads the Bruins with 18 shots on net this series, every next one looking more and more haphazard and rushed than the one before.

Needs to be better.

Thanks to the New England Hockey Journal’s Jesse Connolly for this little tidbit: In the first five periods of his playoff career, which includes that jaw-dropping Saturday evening against the Lightning in 2011, Seguin had six points – three goals and three assists. Periods.

Since then, he has four playoff points – two goals and two assists – in 22-plus games.

If promise delivered results, then expectation has wildly disappointed.

While Seguin has been invisible and Dougie Hamilton spits sunflower seeds in the rafters, Kessel has reinvigorated his reputation with his play. Labeled a selfish player with an aversion to playing defense, Kessel would never have worked in Claude Julien’s system, which I suppose will one day raise the question as to whether or not we’ll say the same of Seguin, or if Claude will be around to witness that day.

It’s unfair to judge Seguin’s development after a shortened season, but his 32-point campaign was uneven, particularly coming off the fire trail of dominance he left overseas during the lockout. Seguin is 21 now. At 21, Steven Stamkos already had three 90-plus point seasons under his belt. Taylor Hall had a 50-point season this year despite playing in 45 games. But from a statistical standpoint, it’s too early to get caught up in what Seguin lacks, particularly on a team that spreads offense like Valentine’s Day cards in the first grade. Everybody gets a little.

But in these playoffs, the Bruins need Seguin to be more dynamic. Instead, he’s been timid, hesitant, and detrimental to his linemates’ success.

Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic have been unstoppable against the Leafs. But if the Bruins want to keep playing, they need more out of their second unit. Bergeron and Marchand delivered on that note in Game 4 against the Leafs, a game that may not have only swung this series Boston’s way, but opened eyes around the league that the Bruins are as physical as anyone else out there, and may once again be coming at you with some magic between the pipes.

If only Seguin could find some in his own hands.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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