TORONTO -- It took just two games for Boston Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin to show the hockey world he's ready for a starring role in these NHL playoffs.
After posting only 22 points in 74 regular-season contests, the 19-year-old has exploded offensively with six points in two playoff games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's a torrid pace that will surely re-ignite dormant conversation among Toronto Maple Leafs fans on whether the Phil Kessel deal was worth it, but to go down that road right now would be an exercise in digression. Besides, concentrating on the recent dominance of Seguin is more intriguing, especially when one considers how rare a performance Tuesday night was.
With a pair of goals to go along with two helpers in the second period of the Bruins' 6-5 victory, Seguin became the first teenager to notch a four-point playoff performance since Trevor Linden on Apr. 9, 1989, and his contributions couldn't have come at a better time. After looking flat in a 5-2 loss in Game 1 many were left wondering whether the Bruins could match the Lightning's potent offense. Well, that question was answered in Game 2, where Seguin and the Bruins proved they not only could go goal-for-goal with the Bolts, they proved they could be better.
The young phenom had his way with the previously unflappable Dwayne Roloson, making the Lightning goaltender look human for the first time this post- season. A beautiful forehand backhand deke resulted in his first goal, while his second was a Joe-Sakic-like snap-shot that nestled just under the crossbar. Both markers demonstrated a level of skill that the Bruins knew was there when they drafted him second overall, but after he scored only one goal in his final 20 regular season games, one can bet they didn't think they would see him blossom so quickly.
The heroic performance has many questioning why Bruins head coach Claude Julien waited so long to get the talented freshman involved in his game plan. Maybe it was his physical immaturity or his lackadaisical defensive play that prompted Julien to look elsewhere for production. But why he chose to sit Seguin isn't important anymore, instead what he can do for the Bruins going forward is. And considering how well Seguin is playing, maybe handling him in this patient manner was precisely the right thing to do.
Players that have played for Julien will call him stubborn, and rightfully so when looking at his history in dealing with youngsters, but if winning is the ultimate measure of a coach's success, victory after victory has proven that he knows what's best for his team. The Bruins didn't need Seguin when they dispatched the Montreal Canadiens in Round 1 or when they sent the Philadelphia Flyers packing in the conference semis. So to question his decision making process purely because Seguin has had such a large impact in only two games, is not entirely fair.
Sure it was an injury to Patrice Bergeron that forced Julien to look in Seguin's direction and not a hunch by the head coach, but the circumstances that prompted the lineup change are consistent with the nature of professional sports. Sometimes it takes an injury to one player to kick start the career of another and that's precisely what has happened with Seguin and the Bruins.
It's been confirmed that Seguin will be on the ice when the series shifts over to Tampa Bay for game 3 on Thursday and with return of Patrice Bergeron a possibility as well, a more dynamic team is forming right in front of our eyes.