|Bruin Tyler Seguin is checked by Red Wings winger Justin Abdelkader in the second period. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)|
After scratches, Seguin passes test
DETROIT — On Saturday, for one night, Tyler Seguin was a boy again.
After the Bruins landed in Detroit, Seguin went to nearby Plymouth, Mich., where he played his junior hockey just a year ago. Seguin met up with former coach Mike Vellucci and his ex-teammates, then dropped the first puck at
Yesterday, Seguin returned to work.
Seguin, a healthy scratch for two games (Friday night’s 6-1 loss to Detroit and Wednesday night’s 8-6 beatdown of Montreal), was back in uniform at Joe Louis Arena. Seguin centered Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder on the third line. Zach Hamill, who had occupied that spot for the two previous games, was a healthy scratch.
Seguin made an immediate impact. On his first shift, he connected from the low slot at 1:29 for the game’s opening goal. Seguin and Wheeler had worked the puck efficiently around the cage to open up space for the scoring chance.
“After the All-Star break, I wasn’t happy with the way I was playing,’’ Seguin said. “I just didn’t feel like I was involved in the play as much or enough. The coaching staff told me that as well. I wanted that first game to start doing that. I did a better job, I thought.’’
Seguin’s performance had its shortcomings. He lost 12 of 13 faceoffs. In the second period, Seguin was on the ice for Kris Draper’s winning goal. He recognized too late that Draper had gained position at the offensive blue line. By the time Draper took a pass from Patrick Eaves, Seguin was too far behind to halt the 39-year-old before he roofed a shot over Tim Thomas.
However, the coaching staff will live with such errors as long as Seguin battles at a high level like he did yesterday.
“I thought he skated better,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He made some plays and scored early on in the game. I thought he responded well. Some of the little mistakes he made are first-year player mistakes. Those are things we can work with when we see the compete level. I thought his compete level was good.’’
For most of the season, Seguin had developed as expected. But his growth had stalled. He wasn’t competing for pucks in races and battles. He didn’t have the offensive explosiveness he showed at times. He wasn’t playing reliable defense at center or wing.
So for two games, Seguin watched from the TD Garden press box.
“You can really see, when you’re sitting up there, a different side of the game,’’ Seguin said. “When you’re out there playing, you feel like you have no time and space. When you look from up top, you realize you have an extra half-second to make that smarter play than throwing it away. I still felt like I had glimpses of me throwing it away way too fast [yesterday]. But I felt like I improved on that.’’
Kampfer takes a seat Steven Kampfer is from Jackson, Mich., about 45 minutes west of downtown Detroit. Kampfer played four years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The 22-year-old idolized Nicklas Lidstrom and wore No. 5 at Michigan in honor of the Detroit captain. Yesterday would have been his first pro game at Joe Louis Arena.
Instead, Kampfer watched in suit and tie, scratched for the first time as an NHLer. He had acquired more than 20 tickets for the game.
“I think the last five games or so, we feel that his game has really progressively slipped,’’ said Julien. “I know the timing may not be the best. But we’ve got to make decisions here for the right reasons.
“We’ve been talking to him for a while now about his game. He’s got to get back to what we liked about his game earlier on. He saw the play well and he moved the puck well. Right now, he’s struggling in that area. The biggest strength that he has, he’s having a tough time. It’s a little opportunity to sit back here. We’re going to keep working with him and get him back on track.’’
Friday night, Kampfer played only 16:41. It was his lowest amount of ice time since he played only 5:54 Jan. 15 against Pittsburgh when he broke his nose after he was bonked by Zdeno Chara’s stick.
Kampfer’s struggles highlight the Bruins’ need for a veteran puck-moving defenseman before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Targets include Tomas Kaberle and Eric Brewer. Both of the Bruins’ 2011 first-round picks (Toronto’s and their own) are in play.
Mark Stuart, a healthy scratch for eight straight games, returned to uniform yesterday. He skated with Adam McQuaid on the third pairing. Late in the first, Stuart played his bump-first game by repeatedly delivering cross-checks to Tomas Holmstrom in the corner. Stuart logged 13:34 of ice time.
Johnny Boychuk, who had been playing with Andrew Ference, replaced Kampfer alongside Chara.
Hamill to Providence After the 4-2 loss, Hamill was assigned to Providence. In three games with the big club, he recorded one assist while averaging 10:28 of ice time. Hamill’s assignment indicates that Seguin will be the third-line center for now. Management continues to look for veteran up-front help via the trade market . . . Milan Lucic’s right foot went numb after the left wing blocked a Niklas Kronwall shot in the third period. Lucic fell and couldn’t push off his foot. After a whistle, Lucic hobbled off the ice. But after walking off the pain in the runway, Lucic returned and didn’t miss a shift . . . Daniel Paille served the fourth and final game of his suspension. He is eligible to play tomorrow against Toronto. It’s possible Paille will return to the fourth line, which would send Jordan Caron back to Providence . . . The Wings honored longtime puckstopper Chris Osgood before the game for his 400th career win. The club presented Osgood with a paid golf vacation. Osgood is currently on the shelf following groin surgery Jan. 10.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.