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Seguin steals spotlight

Puck theft results in tiebreaking goal

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 18, 2010

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NEW YORK — As his own harshest critic, Tyler Seguin seems to have forgotten that he could be playing junior hockey instead of being in the big leagues. The NHL, after all, is a frightening place that can take the most precocious 18-year-old and make him look like the boy that he is.

So it wasn’t surprising that entering last night, Seguin had gone seven games without a goal. And while his coaches wouldn’t term such a streak a slump, it’s how Seguin has viewed his latest stretch as he adjusts from the Ontario Hockey League to the most ferocious of men’s leagues.

“I actually felt like I’ve been in a little bit of a slump,’’ Seguin said after last night’s 3-2 win over the Rangers. “It’s my first year in the NHL, so some people wouldn’t call it a slump, I guess. That’s what the boys are telling me, anyways. But for myself, I looked at it as that. It was nice to break that tonight.’’

Did he ever.

In the second period, Seguin broke both his seven-game scoreless streak and a 1-1 tie with a big-boy goal. As the puck rimmed around the wall in the Bruins’ zone, former Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy tried to hold the offensive blue line. The safe play might have been to step in front of the puck, or perhaps even bite the bullet and let it roll out of the zone. But Gilroy tried to bat the puck forward on his backhand. Big mistake.

“Gilly is in a hell of a spot there as a righthanded shot, left [defenseman],’’ said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “I’d like to see him maybe just try and hold it and stop the puck instead of try and bat it.’’

Seguin, going hard at Gilroy to take away the point, came away with the puck and streaked the other way. Michael Sauer did his best to catch up. But Seguin, one of the rare players who doesn’t look like he loses speed while carrying the puck, got a step on Sauer. When he hit the slot, Seguin canned a riser over Henrik Lundqvist at 16:35 for his fourth NHL goal.

“He’s an explosive player who can make a lot happen,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s a young fellow — you can see the upside. Tonight was one of his better games in a while. Not because he scored. Just the way he competed. He was on the puck. He skated with more confidence. We hope to see a little bit more of that.’’

It was a play that showcased Seguin’s skills in open ice. Once David Krejci returns, the Bruins are considering keeping Blake Wheeler at center and moving Seguin to wing. There, Seguin might have more space and better opportunities to utilize his speed and shot.

“I wouldn’t say he’s in a slump. He said that,’’ Julien said. “I think it’s just the grind of the schedule, which is all new to him. He’s not the only one of the young guys whose play has slipped a bit. That’s why I wouldn’t call it a slump. I’d call it a learning curve. To be able to bounce back like he did tonight is showing great character.’’

Prep work Johnny Boychuk (broken left arm) participated in yesterday’s morning skate and was present for warm-ups, but the Bruins held him out for the 10th straight game.

“In order for him to get back in, he’s got to be able to help us,’’ Julien said before the win. “He’s got to be closer to 100 percent than not. You’ve got to make that decision. I know that his situation is that he may not be 100 percent. We’ve got back-to-back games.’’

Boychuk is wearing a lighter cast on the arm, but he didn’t test it much in the skate.

“Not too much contact,’’ said Boychuk. “Because every practice I’ve had, it’s a day-before-game practice or a pregame skate. There’s no contact at all. I can’t really say that I’ve had contact with it.’’

Conditioning for Krejci Krejci (concussion) took to the ice for the morning skate, then remained out there for more conditioning and stickwork under Jarvis’s watch. Krejci is day-to-day. Once he returns, the Bruins will finally have some options up front. Earlier in the season, they had two extra bodies in Daniel Paille and Brian McGrattan. But with Krejci unavailable, the Bruins haven’t had any spare forwards. “That will create some more competition again,’’ Julien said. “Right now, we feel we’ve got some depth in our lineup when we’re healthy. That certainly made our team really good at the beginning of the year.’’ . . . Last night marked Julien’s 500th game as an NHL coach. “You feel fortunate that you’ve been here for that long,’’ he said. “You hope that you’re here a little longer. That’s basically what coaches think nowadays. Is it a milestone? I’d look for a lot more than that. But it’s nice I’ve been able to coach in the NHL for that long. It’s great.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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