Tyler Seguin's (lack of) scoring becoming an issue for Bruins

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is checked by Blackhawks defencemen Nick Leddy (back) and Michal...

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is checked by Blackhawks defencemen Nick Leddy (back) and Michal Rozsival during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final at the United Center in Chicago, June 12, 2013. (JOHN GRESS/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 PM ET

CHICAGO - For now, three rounds and a game into the Stanley Cup playoffs, he is the Boston Bruins forward with hands of stone.

At some point, Bruins coach Claude Julien is willing to acknowledge, Tyler Seguin could play a crucial role in the outcome of the Stanley Cup final.

And that role could come sooner than expected if Nathan Horton, who left Game 1 in the first overtime and did not return, is not healthy enough for Saturday's Game 2.

On Thursday, Julien listed Horton as "day-to-day" but if he doesn't go, Seguin would most likely move up to the white-hot line of playoff scoring leader David Krejci and Milan Lucic, who had two goals and an assist in the series-opening win Wednesday night.

Seguin, who has just one goal this post-season, moved up with that unit once Horton checked out and had a number of good scoring chances, including at least three in overtime.

Julien was blunt Thursday when he made it clear that some production from Seguin is getting well past the overdue stage.

"He's been skating well," Julien said. "To me, right now, the only thing he needs to do is be able to finish. If he can finish, it will certainly help his confidence, help our hockey club.

"(I'm not) criticizing his work ethic because he's competing hard and he's got some chances. Those things are certainly a positive thing, so there only one thing left to do and you hope for his sake and our sake that it comes along."

Seguin, who didn't speak with the media at the team's hotel Thursday, didn't score a goal in the opening-round win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and was also blanked in the Eastern Conference final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His lone goal to this point came in Game 4 of the second-round series against the New York Rangers.

On Wednesday, Seguin was repeatedly stymied after getting a team-high eight shots on Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.

"He had some good looks, especially in overtime," Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron said Thursday. "He had some very good chances.

"When he's on his game, when he uses his speed like he did last night, he's really tough to defend."

The potential loss of Horton -- the Bruins who spoke with the media Thursday were decidedly mum on the topic -- could obviously be a huge development in the series given the chemistry that line has had throughout the post-season.

Krejci was dominant in the Bruins' early wins over the Leafs in Round 1 and has sailed to the playoff points lead with 22. Not surprisingly, Horton is second with 18 while Lucic is in a tie for third with 16.

So will Seguin be able to respond to the opportunity, should he get it?

"He's got the speed to be up there with them, (he's) got the skill," Julien said. "For him, it's an opportunity right now.

"We'll see where everybody stands here by Saturday."

If there is a potential issue facing the Bruins, if the style of play continues along the same path that it did in Game 1, it is depth up front.

If the Hawks can continue to generate the offence the Penguins and Rangers weren't able to, that pressure on Seguin and others becomes heightened.

"It's a loss, an overtime loss," Boston defenceman Andrew Ference said. "There are a lot of guys that were frustrated with not putting the puck in the net on certain chances.

"I think you look back at the game as a whole, you say this is going to be a tight series. Finishing wasn't there so you just move on."

And in Seguin's case, perhaps up.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport


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