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Seguin not down after sitting out

Rookie prefers to stay positive

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 17, 2010

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MONTREAL — Tyler Seguin has been a prodigy at every level. Only one player was picked before him in the 2010 draft. General manager Peter Chiarelli mentions names like Pat LaFontaine and Steven Stamkos when describing his game.

For all that, Seguin is familiar with failure.

On Wednesday, Seguin was a healthy scratch for the first time as an NHLer. The same day, 13 teenagers were informed that Team Canada would not require their services in the upcoming World Junior Championship. Last year, Seguin, 17 at the time, got the same bad news.

“It’s kind of funny,’’ said Seguin. “It’s been shown on TV the last couple days. [Wednesday] as well with all the cuts and what they’re going through. That was me last year at this time. I had to face adversity. I wanted to overcome it, and I think I did.’’

Last Saturday, Seguin missed his first NHL game, because of flu-like symptoms. Daniel Paille replaced Seguin on the No. 3 line alongside Marc Savard and Michael Ryder. The Bruins dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Philadelphia, but coach Claude Julien was satisfied with how Savard’s line performed.

So on Wednesday in Buffalo, Julien kept the ex-Sabre in the lineup. Seguin sat alongside Chiarelli and assistant coach Doug Jarvis to watch the Sabres record a 3-2 win.

“He was under the weather and hadn’t felt well for a couple days, so we made him a scratch that night,’’ Julien said of Seguin’s absence against Philadelphia. “We played well in that game, so it was hard to justify pulling somebody out. It’s certainly not going to be a turning point in his career by missing a game. He sat upstairs with management, and it was certainly beneficial for him as well.’’

As expected, last year’s Ontario Hockey League scoring champ hasn’t been as explosive as an NHL rookie. Seguin, who returned to the lineup against the Canadiens and registered an assist, has five goals and six assists in 28 games. He has only one goal in his last 12 games and two strikes in his last 20. Seguin entered last night averaging 12:34 of ice time, second fewest among Bruins forwards (Shawn Thornton had seen 10:37 of playing time per game).

“I’m taking the positives out of it,’’ Seguin said. “It was an experience sitting up top, especially last game, getting to watch the game and study the game a bit more from a different perspective.’’

Three years ago, Milan Lucic was in a similar situation. Lucic made the club instead of being returned to juniors. A month into his rookie year, Lucic was a healthy scratch for a November game.

“It’s just a learning curve,’’ Lucic said. “Sometimes you have to sit back and watch from up top. He definitely shouldn’t be frustrated at all. It should give him more fire to do whatever he can to stay in the lineup and do whatever he can to help us.’’

After Seguin was cut from Team Canada last year, he rebounded by winning OHL Player of the Month honors in December and January.

“I think he played well,’’ Julien said. “It was nice to see him come back and play well. He missed an opportunity [Wednesday] because of our lineup and the way we played against Philly. But to come back and play the way he did, I thought it was a good game on his part.’’

On the offensive On Wednesday, the first NHL game in which Steven Kampfer was given regular man-advantage time, the rookie defenseman regrouped in the neutral zone during a second-period power play. The safe play would have been a pass back to partner Zdeno Chara, who could then complete the regroup as the Bruins changed units.

Kampfer, however, read that the Sabres were also changing up. So he carried the puck toward the Buffalo bench, figuring his attack would make the Sabres hesitant to change. If too many penalty killers left the ice, Kampfer and his teammates would have numbers rushing into the offensive zone. If the Sabres botched the change, they could have been caught with too many men.

“You’re trying to force them to make a quick decision,’’ said Kampfer. “So I was trying to make them hesitate on whether they could go or not. I was lucky enough to get Michael [Ryder] going the other way.’’

As Kampfer carried the puck, Ryder hopped over the boards. Kampfer laid a drop pass at center ice for Ryder. Just as Ryder crossed over the blue line, David Krejci, who had been in the offensive zone, sprinted back to negate the offside call. Ryder then beat Ryan Miller for the Bruins’ second goal, giving Kampfer his first NHL assist.

“I felt more comfortable as the game went on,’’ Kampfer said. “I think playing a little more, you get into a rhythm. I’m happy to be here, so I’ll take any ice time I can get.’’

Last night, Kampfer remained on the power play alongside Chara. Kampfer played a career-high 22:17, putting four shots on goal and recording three blocked shots.

Ference hits 600 Andrew Ference appeared in his 600th career NHL game last night, making him eligible for a single room on the road. According to the collective bargaining agreement, a player with 10 years of experience and 600 games is not required to have a roommate . . . Last night marked Ryder’s 500th game.

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