Tyler Seguin Has Arrived

The Boston Bruins entered last night’s Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning without Olympic gold medalist center Patrice Bergeron, and with an 0-1 series deficit at home.  They will fly down to Tampa with Bergeron, a tied series, and a new star forward in rookie Tyler Seguin.

Seguin was scratched for the first two rounds after playing 74 regular season games.  He reentered the Bruins lineup in the absence of Bergeron, and has made an immediate impact both on the scoresheet and at the water cooler.  The second overall pick of last summer’s draft scored a goal on Dwayne Roloson in Boston’s Game 1 loss, and followed his playoff debut with a two goal, two assist domination last night in which most Bruins were calling him the best player on the ice.

I’ll admit that after the initial honeymoon period (about the first two weeks of the season), I didn’t watch Seguin with an overly critical eye.  Part of not taking him into account for this season was due to the fact that he only played 12:13 per game this year.  But another part of it was that he seemed to be a player, like all players, that needed some time to develop his game before becoming an all-around threat in a playoff series.  That line of thinking is now out the window, as the Bruins have their best chance in many years at a Stanley Cup, and Seguin’s first two playoff games clearly indicate that he is a necessary piece of the 2011 Bruins’ bid for trophies.  And solely from what I watched in Game 2, Seguin looked more like a right-handed Sergei Fedorov that anyone I’ve seen in the last decade, with his speed, passing, shot accuracy and ability to deke.  Seguin looks like the real deal, although expectations should be a little tempered, since players tend to be more inconsistent in their very young years.

To make matters better for the Bruins, Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com is reporting that the Bruins expect Bergeron to be available for Thursday night’s Game 3 in Tampa.  If Bergeron does play, it will be interesting to see how diminished Seguin’s role will be.  He seems like he is a player that flourishes in roles of greater responsibility, although my feeling on this is based on an extremely small sample size.

But it’s not all bad for the Lightning, as they trotted Mike Smith out for the third period and pulled to within one goal at 6-5 with 6:45 to play, but were unable to get the equalizer.  If not for allowing five goals in the second period, Tampa Bay could have stolen Game 2 and taken a commanding lead back home.  Instead, they bring home what every road seed hopes to bring home for Game 3:  a best-of-five series with three upcoming games at home.  In order to lose this series, Tampa Bay will have to be defeated on home ice.  It’s become fashionable to joke about how meaningless home ice is in hockey, and specifically in these playoffs, but don’t fully buy into that.  Home ice is still better than road ice.

In fact, since the lockout, home teams are 52-31 during the Stanley Cup and conference finals.  If that .627 winning percentage doesn’t do anything for you, consider the .742 number that covers the previous two playoff seasons, based on 2008-09 and 2009-10, when home teams went 23-8 over the final two rounds.

Tonight, the Vancouver Canucks will try to increase the home team’s winning percentage when they hit the ice against the San Jose Sharks for Game 2 of their western conference series.  The Canucks lead the series 1-0.  Game 2 is tonight (Wed.) at 9:00 p.m. ET.


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