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Seguin already finding stride in second season

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / November 13, 2011

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Fifteen games into his rookie season with the Bruins last year, Tyler Seguin had just three goals and three assists. There was great promise, and even greater expectations placed on the 18-year-old wunderkind from Brampton, Ontario, who was the Bruins’ No. 1 pick (second overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft.

But those expectations gave way to the reality that Seguin needed quite a bit of seasoning to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NHL.

Seguin wound up scoring 11 goals, including three in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Bruins knew his best was yet to come.

Seguin had a pair of goals in last night’s 6-2 victory over the Sabres, giving him a team-leading 11.

“It’s really been night and day,’’ Seguin said, when asked to compare last season’s start with this season’s. “You have a whole summer there to get ready for your first NHL season, but you really don’t know what to expect. You know you watch it on TV, but you don’t know how actually fast it is and how much more you have to compete.’’

The lessons Seguin learned in helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup served him well over a short summer of strength and conditioning work as he remolded his body to prepare for his sophomore season.

“I tried to take all the experience I had gained,’’ Seguin said, “and I knew I had to work on my core and I knew I had to work on my man strength a bit more to get ready for this year.’’

Seguin, who entered the game with a three-game goal streak and a five-game point streak, extended both when he tallied the winning goal (his fourth of the season) at 13:29 of the second. He beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller on a pretty goalmouth feed from linemate Brad Marchand.

“Yeah, Segs is getting really lucky right now,’’ Marchand said with a laugh. “He is playing unbelievable. He seems to be able to do it every single game. Around the net, he can’t miss. He makes some great plays out there. It’s is very good for him and we’re all happy.

“We need him to keep going, because he is a big part of our team right now.’’

After Chris Kelly made it 4-1 in the third to spark a three-goal outburst against backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth, Seguin tallied for the second time, converting Patrice Bergeron’s nifty centering pass at 7:11. Seguin then returned the favor to Marchand, setting him up for Boston’s sixth goal, at 9:52.

“He’s on fire right now,’’ Milan Lucic said of Seguin, who has eight goals and three assists over his last six games. “He’s shooting the puck well, he’s getting in on those areas. You know, I think last year, he learned a lot. I think we went about things the right way, kind of giving him limited ice time and teaching him everything that it takes to be a pro.

“And you can see that in his game, that it’s paid off.’’

Although 15 games represents a small sample of Seguin’s season to date, Bruins coach Claude Julien knew precisely where he had his biggest strides.

“Just his overall game,’’ he said. “I looked at him competing and battling along the boards - really, the physical side of it. He doesn’t seem intimidated at all. Last year, we saw him putting on the breaks at times and wasn’t probably as comfortable in those areas, but this year, there’s no doubt. He’s taking pride in his overall game.

“He knows he’s on a top line that has to play other team’s top lines,’’ Julien said, “so, in order to be successful, you’ve got to be a good two-way player, and that’s what he’s become - a real good two-way player. His stats are there, his points and goals are happening, so we couldn’t be happier for him.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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