As the Boston Bruins prepare for their shot at completing the four-game series sweep of the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, on the heels of a thrilling come-from-behind 2-1 victory in that very building Tuesday night, the question that continues to baffle fans and media pundits alike is as follows. What is going on with Tyler Seguin?
The once budding Bruin superstar and former number 2 overall pick, he who led Boston in goals and points during the 2011-2012 regular posting a 29-38-67 stat line that had most people claiming it to be his "break-out year", had a largely unimpressive 2012-2013 regular season and has followed that up by being a virtual non-factor thus far in the post-season. Ten games into the 2013 playoffs, Seguin's third go-around in post-season play, the 21-year-old winger has recorded only a single assist (granted that assist happened to be monstrous as it came on Patrice Bergeron's game-winning OT goal in game 7 of the first round).
His general ineffectiveness has downright baffled just about everyone following the Bruins or the NHL. How can a kid who was nearly a first overall draft pick in 2010 and who possesses seemingly unlimited potential and natural, raw talent, struggle so much to produce and make an impact in his team's most important games?
When analyzing the progression of his career, all signs have pointed to superstardom. As a 17-year-old rookie with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, Seguin scored 21 goals and recorded 46 assist for 67 points. He followed that up in his draft year by having a monster season, netting 48 goals while adding 58 assists for 106 points. After a rookie season that saw Claude Julien bring the 18-year-old rookie along very slowly and carefully as he helped him adjust to the rigors of an NHL season and adapt to an increased focus on playing a complete three-zone game, Seguin seemed to break out with his team-leading numbers a year ago. During the lockout earlier this year, Seguin took his game overseas to play in the Swiss Elite League, a lesser league than the NHL of course, but he did tear it up scoring 25 goals and 15 assists in just 29 games. So coming into this year's shortened season, hopes had never been higher for #19.
Nothing really seemed to translate, however. The beginning of the season seemed to be an endless slump as Seguin was very slow out of the gates. He would end the 48-game regular season with 16-16-32, not bad but certainly not living up to his high expectations to be one of the league's elite scorers. Which brings us to his current standing, his playoff struggles well documented, and forcing us all to scratch our heads. There hasn't been a shortage of chances as he leads the Bruins with 39 shots on goal. His failed breakaway chance in the first period of game 3 Tuesday night sort or represents how things have gone for Seguin this post season. Breakaways are typically his bread and butter.
So what could the issue possibly be? As stated, his pedigree and physical tools are clearly there. He's a very fast skater with above-average hands and an elite snap shot. His hockey sense is certainly still up for debate in just his third year as an NHL player, but he has shown flashes of great vision and playmaking ability. This is all what has made this entire season, both regular and post, so maddening. We can all see the potential. He has shown flashes of absolute brilliance and the vision of #19 victimizing NHL goalies year in and year out are within the realm of possibility. He just hasn't been able to put it all together yet. It seems to be mainly mental with Seguin. At times his play can reflect that of indifference, with a lack of effort or commitment evident. He sometimes shows a tendency to shy from physical play and corner battles. At this point, it really looks like he has lost all confidence in his own ability, which is particularly troubling.
If there was ever someone who needed a bounce to go their way, it is certainly Tyler Seguin. The hope among Bruin-Nation is that the young sniper will get that first goal that will hopefully “break the ice”, and once he does this the sky is the limit. As the B’s continue their quest for another cup, there is no doubt that they will need to lean on Seguin at some point, and the question remains as to whether or not he will be capable of answering the bell.
Here’s hoping he can find his game and continue to grow into the franchise former we all hope he can become.