WILMINGTON — A very quiet day in Bruinsland, just a day before the Maple Leafs come to Causeway Street for the first divisional matchup between these storied Original 30 franchises.
Tyler Seguin, the pride of suburban Toronto, will be in the lineup for the first time against his hometown Blue-and-White. It will be Seguin’s seventh NHL game, and the Bruins must decide before his 10th game whether the speedy freshman will stay in the Hub or go back to his junior squad for the remainder of 2010-’11.
Following today’s workout, coach Claude Julien cleverly sidestepped a question about whether the 18-year-old would be headed back to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers. A question better answered by the front office, said the coach.
”I rack my mind with line combinations,” said Julien, ”and they can rack their mind with that.”
Thus far, Julien has used Seguin regularly but sparingly as a fourth-line center, one that today in practice featured Mark Recchi on left wing and the likes of Michael Ryder/Danny Paille on the right side. In six games, Seguin has three points (1-2–3) and is a minus-2. Ryder (minus-3) is the only other minus player on the roster. Seguin is averaging 13:25 in ice time per game.
If booted back to junior, Seguin likely would average some 6-7 more minutes in ice time as a first-line center and first-unit power-play contributor. His minutes aren’t likely to change here soon, or at least until Marc Savard recovers from lingering concussion symptoms. Once Savard is back, Seguin likely would move to a wing spot, which would relieve him of some defensive responsibilities and perhaps put him on one of the club’s top two lines.
Correction: if Seguin were to catch fire offensively, he still will cost the Bruins only $900,000 (top rookie pay), against the cap. He is capable of earning another $2.65 million in bonuses, but with the CBA now in place through the 2011-12 season, the Bruins would be able to toll those charges ahead to next season. An earlier note here suggested a portion of the bonus money, if achieved, would have cap implications this season.
Line ’em up
The other lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Blake Wheeler-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand-Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton/Brian McGrattan
Zdeno Chara-Andrew Ference
Mark Stuart-Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick-Adam McQuaid
No word from Julien whether tomorrow’s starter in net will be Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask.
McQuaid will be in the lineup for the first time this season, filling the void that opened when it was learned on Sunday that Johnny Boychuk (cracked forearm) will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks.
McGrattan is still waiting for his ice time. The Leafs have the kind of muscle (see: Colton Orr) that could lead Julien to bring in his 6-foot-4-inch strong man.
Kessel comes to Causeway
Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer (8 games, 7-2–9) will be looking for his first point on Causeway Street since the 2008-’09 season. He went 0-for-Boston in three visits last season. The 23-year-old Kessel has a goal in each of his last two games and no doubt again will have to try to navigate around Boston captain Zdeno Chara every time he gets on the ice.
Tuesday night, in a win over Florida, Kessel skated on a line with Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin, who took Kris Versteeg’s wing. Versteeg, swapped out of the Boston organization for Brandon Bochenski, skated with Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski.