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Seguin at home in middle

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / September 20, 2011

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For the second straight season, Tyler Seguin could be a right wing, with either Patrice Bergeron or Chris Kelly serving as his setup man.

But Seguin’s natural position is center, which is where he’s been skating for the opening days of Bruins training camp. Seguin has not looked like he’s forgotten how to play the position.

“He’s been very good. I’ve noticed him,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He seems a lot stronger. He seems a lot more confident. From what I’ve seen these first three days, his skill level has really shown because of the way he’s competing with that confidence.

“I see a guy who’s got a year under his belt. He’s coming in this year and wants to make a difference. We knew all along that he’s got it. Now it’s up to him to show it. His first three days, I think he’s done that.’’

Seguin has been centering Kyle MacKinnon and Nathan Horton. Like he did his rookie season, Seguin has skated dynamically and shot pucks with purpose.

What’s made Seguin among the more explosive forwards in camp has been his competitiveness and his battle level in the danger areas. As a rookie, Seguin wasn’t always willing to use his muscle in the corners, along the walls, and in front of the net.

Last season, Seguin spent most of his time at wing, partly because of the defensive responsibilities required of a center. This year, Seguin could be the No. 2 right wing in place of Mark Recchi. But if Seguin gains more comfort in the middle, he could give the Bruins more offensive presence at center to complement Bergeron and David Krejci. Long term, the Bruins project Seguin as a center.

“Right now, where we are at center is pretty deep,’’ Julien said. “So it depends on what kind of makeup you want your team to be like - whether you want a bunch of high-end centermen, or you want some more reliable centermen on certain lines. We’ve got that luxury right now. We’ve got that option. We just have to figure out how we want to go about it.’’

Eager camper As a four-year forward at Providence College, it seemed only natural that MacKinnon would sign an amateur tryout contract with the pro club in his college town.

Last year, after completing his career with the Friars (he scored 14 goals as a senior), MacKinnon dressed for five games with the P-Bruins, tallying one goal and two assists. MacKinnon, currently under a one-year AHL contract, is participating in his first NHL camp.

“Just trying to use my speed and strength out there,’’ MacKinnon said. “Things are going good.’’

The 23-year-old MacKinnon, an undrafted free agent, projects to be a two-way wing. To open camp, MacKinnon has been skating on the left side with Seguin and Horton. During yesterday’s scrimmage, MacKinnon potted one goal by driving hard to the net.

“Those guys will make anybody look better out there,’’ MacKinnon said. “Just trying to use my speed and open up lanes for them. They can get you the puck when you’re open. I just have to bury my chances.’’

Early exit Zdeno Chara left yesterday’s scrimmage early because of a bruise on the inside of his left leg. Chara was hit by a puck near his knee. After finishing his shift in discomfort, Chara limped off the ice and retreated to the dressing room. “If he needs an extra day, we’ll give him an extra day,’’ Julien said. “If he’s OK tomorrow, then he’ll go. We’ll see. Just a day-by-day bruise - a shot inside the leg.’’ . . . The Bruins will go through off-ice workouts today at the Garden. They will participate in a Black and White scrimmage at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center tonight in Providence. “Some guys want to be evaluated, and that’s a way of doing it,’’ Julien said. “At the same time, having four straight days before your first exhibition game and having had a long season last year, it’s not a bad thing to not worry so much about drills. Giving them a chance to play [tonight] should help everybody get more comfortable with each other as well.’’ . . . Tomorrow’s preseason opener against Ottawa can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

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

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