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Seguin making strides, not hearing footsteps

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / May 19, 2011

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TAMPA — In some ways, it was not surprising that Tyler Seguin scored two goals in the second period of the Bruins’ Game 2 win that earned him YouTube glory.

Nobody has questioned Seguin’s speed and skill. On both goals, he flaunted both.

On the first, Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder, brushed off a Victor Hedman slash, accelerated past Randy Jones, and flipped a backhander over Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson.

On the second, Seguin sprinted into the slot, making himself available for a Nathan Horton dish. As soon as Horton’s pass landed on his blade, Seguin ripped the puck upstairs.

It was Seguin’s assist on Ryder’s second goal that was out of character.

Dennis Seidenberg hammered a shot wide of the net, and the puck rimmed around the wall. Earlier in the season, Seguin would have done one of two things. As the puck came around the boards, he would have peeled off to avoid contact with Steven Stamkos, who was racing after it. Or, having retrieved the puck, Seguin would have rushed and turned it over.

He did neither.

Often during the regular season, Seguin showed why there are few teenagers starring in the NHL. His shortcomings in courage and smarts ultimately led to a short leash and healthy scratches.

That wasn’t the case in Game 2. Seguin won the race against Stamkos and spotted Chris Kelly in a seam. Seguin calmly threw a backhand pass to Kelly. Roloson stopped Kelly’s shot, but Ryder jammed in the rebound.

“You’ve seen it,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “There’s times that maybe he would have heard footsteps and would have gotten rid of it instead.

“But that’s what confidence is. That’s what growing is. That’s the part that’s sometimes tough for people on the outside to see.

“They see the potential. But it’s our job to work with this guy and help him grow properly. Right now, we’re seeing that. I don’t think we’re disappointed. No doubt, we like what we see. The timing couldn’t be any better.’’

Seguin’s playoff growth confirms that the Bruins were correct in developing him slowly. Seguin was too skilled to return to juniors. But because of his age, he was not eligible to play in the AHL, which probably would have been his best training ground. Seguin needed to practice alongside and play against men.

Tonight, he will continue to reap the rewards of his bosses’ patience, as he makes his third straight playoff appearance.

“What happened to him [in Game 2] is so great,’’ Julien said. “It’s exciting for all of us. As a coach, when you see a young player play the way he did, it bodes so well for this organization. You hope it continues.

“He’s that type of player who can give you that almost on a nightly basis. He’s going to be that kind of impact player. It was just the start of something that’s going to continue to grow.’’

Shift for Krejci While Seguin was most directly affected by Patrice Bergeron’s concussion, the alternate captain’s absence had a trickle-down effect throughout the lineup. For example, David Krejci hadn’t killed penalties for several months.

But because Bergeron was unavailable, Krejci assumed shorthanded duties in Games 1 and 2. In Game 1, Krejci was on the ice for 1:01 on the penalty kill. In Game 2, his PK time increased to 1:50.

“I had some blocks. My faceoffs were way better, too,’’ Krejci said of his Game 2 performance. “I think I did a pretty good job.’’

If Bergeron plays tonight, Krejci is likely to see his shorthanded chores reduced. Julien has preferred to send out Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton after a successful kill.

“When he comes back, he’s going to make our team stronger,’’ Krejci said. “You want him back. He’s a big part of the team. We’ll see what happens.’’

D-minus After two games, a pair of clubs known for their defense have played anything but airtight hockey. In Game 1, the Lightning put five pucks behind Tim Thomas. They did the same in Game 2, but they also saw the Bruins chase Roloson after depositing six pucks in the Lightning net. “We’re happy we scored five goals in both games,’’ said Stamkos. “But in no way is it acceptable to allow six.’’

Inside the box Horton has been whistled for 16 penalty minutes through two games. Twelve came in Game 1 after he tangled with Dominic Moore and was tagged with a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct. In Game 2, Horton was whistled for interference and elbowing. “The one thing that’s not easy is the fact he’s been told in the past he’s been too timid when he was in Florida,’’ Julien said. “All of a sudden, he’s showing some emotion. You don’t want to take that away from him. You might want to tamper with it a little bit and make sure you work with him in regards to not crossing the line. But I like the fact he’s playing with an edge, because it’s really helped his game a lot.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto

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