Tyler Seguin wasn’t happy about his un-Seguin-like numbers of a year ago, and as the young forward enters his second season, he feels he’s had enough experience, invested enough time in the weight room and spent enough observation hours in the press box last season to turn in a sophomore campaign that will remind people why he was the top-rated player in the 2010 draft.
“I thought that as the end of the season wound down, I was competing better, but things weren't going my way,” Seguin said. “I wasn't getting the stats that I wanted or anything like that. Sitting up top for that long, you see what the boys are going through on the ice and how bad they want it.
“It kills you being upstairs, and that emotional state where you're just waiting for almost one of your teammates to go down so you can get the chance to go in. When Bergy got hit [in Game 4 of the semifinals], I was kind of sitting there like, 'Well I guess I might get the call, but we just lost one of our best players.' It's something that I didn't want to do again. Right when I got in, I felt very hungry and wanted to prove myself to stay there in the lineup and help out as much as I could.”
Now, Seguin is 10 pounds heavier after a summer of working out at Matt Nichol’s Biosteel camp in Toronto. Though he began the playoffs as a healthy scratch, his memory from the final two rounds of the postseason and his training camp should leave him with enough positive impressions of his first NHL season. He said Tuesday that games like Game 2 of the conference finals (two goals, two assists), gave him the confidence to be a more complete player, as he was in Game 3 vs. the Lightning.
“This year he came into camp with a lot of confidence, and sometimes that's what a year does,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “… He’s come in here and you see the areas that last year were a bit of a challenge for him has now become second nature. He's going and battling for pucks in the corners where last year we saw him at times kind of look over his shoulder and this is all a natural thing for a young player to make that jump to the NHL as an 18-year-old so he's much stronger, he's much more confident and as long as he's like that his skills are starting to show even more. It's not surprising that he had a good camp but having said that, we're still of the opinion that still has to continue to want to learn in certain areas and that will come with time and we're going to continue to give him that time.”
Seguin admitted that there were times in which his confidence waivered as a rookie. His tendencies to get rid of the puck or shy away from the corners to avoid contact were glaring at points, and the youngster saw quickly that the NHL isn’t easy, even for the supremely talented.
“Absolutely, that was a challenge last year,” Seguin said of his confidence. “If you're a pro athlete, you know you're going to be confident, but coming into last year, just at my age and it being my first year, it took longer than I'd hoped to adapt and get that confidence I had in junior, but I feel a lot better, I feel like I have a lot of experience. You go all the way and see all those things. I was fortunate enough to play in two Game 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That's going to go a long way with my experience and confidence-building.”
The preseason isn’t exactly a great indicator of how a player will fare in the coming season, as they’re not always facing NHL competition, but the positive strides the 19-year-old has taken could be an indication that he is ready to far exceed his 11 goals of a season ago.
Seguin has been practicing on a line with Chris Kelly, Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron rotating in.
KAMPFER’S ‘NOT AGAIN’ MOMENT
Steven Kampfer still appears to be in disbelief over his latest knee injury, but can you blame him? It was a right knee injury that ended his regular season last season, and on a night in which he had seemed to make the best case to sew up the seventh defense spot last week, he sprained his other MCL.
Kampfer said that as he fell to the ice on a hit from Senators defenseman Jared Cowen in last Thursday’s preseason game vs. Ottawa, thoughts of “Oh no, not again,” began racing through his mind. He is expected to miss two to four weeks with his current injury.
“Well, it's just like, you finally get healthy and then it happens again on the other leg,” Kampfer told WEEI.com Tuesday. “It's disappointing because I thought my game was really coming around and I was starting to have a really good camp, and to go down with an injury and be out a couple weeks is definitely frustrating.”
Kampfer went down awkwardly on a clean hit from Cowen. He was trying to chase a puck, but when he suddenly tried to pull up prior to the hit, things took a turn for the worse.
“I tried stopping. While I was getting hit I was trying to pull up, because I knew the puck wasn't going to get to [Rich Peverley], so I was going to try and go get it,” he said. “When I pulled up, my left foot just got caught in a rut, and my knee just bent awkwardly, and that was that.”
Kampfer had said earlier in the preseason that he and former P-Bruins roommate Matt Bartkowski hadn’t been discussing their competition for the seventh spot, and that with his disappointment after his injury, no well-wishing could make the gloomy situation better. As such, the two friends have kept the conversations about things other than hockey.
“I think everybody knew how disappointed I was after it happened, because it was one of those things. I could barely walk the first day or so,” he said. “It's one of those things where you just feel bad. What can you say, 'feel better?' That's about it. I can understand that he doesn't want to [say anything]. It's almost like a pity comment, and you just try not to talk about it all.”
BARTKOWSKI HAS EASY MOTIVATION
Having won the seventh defenseman job for now, Bartkowski can prepare himself for a whole lot of practice and little else, unless an injury is suffered on the Bruins’ blue line.
That will be something new for Bartkowski, who played last season in the AHL. Though it’s a promotion, it is also something the 23-year-old will have to get used to. Fortunately for him, one of the guys playing in front of him is a perfect example of what one can do once they get an opportunity. Months before the Darth Quaider shirts and cult following, Adam McQuaid was an extra defenseman looking to make the most of an opportunity last season. Once he got in the lineup, it was hard for the Bruins to put him back in the press box, and he ended up playing 67 games last season.
“I guess it might get a little boring at times, but you've just got to remember where you are and what you're doing,” Bartkowski said. “Looking at a guy like McQuaid and where he's gone, that's more incentive. Hopefully you do get in the lineup and you play well and they keep you there.”
Factor in Julien saying last week that the competition for the seventh spot would be back on once Kampfer healed, and there’s more than enough reasons for Bartkowski to give it his all with the B’s.
“You can always find a reason to keep pushing and keep driving,” Bartkowski said. “Knowing what Claude said, that we're going to keep battling when [Kampfer] comes back, that definitely lights a little fire under me.”