By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the Bruins were 11-0-1 this month. A huge improvement from the slow start they had this season, the winning streak seems to indicate that the Bruins are over the “Stanley Cup hangover” that many fans feared. A large part of the team’s recent success is due to the play of second year wing Tyler Seguin. When he was drafted second overall last year, everyone knew he had the skills to be an effective scoring threat. After an up and down rookie season, Seguin appears to be putting it all together at the NHL level in his second season – he has already exceeded his point total from last season in only 22 games.
Perhaps the most surprising part of Seguin’s game is his ability to make his teammates better on the ice. He has shown this year that he can be an impressive playmaker. Early in the year, Claude Julien shuffled the lines and we saw Seguin playing with Milan Lucic. In order to keep up with Seguin’s speed, Lucic had to continuously move his skates, leading to more opportunities for Lucic and keeping him at the top of his game. Now playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Seguin is continuing to get results. Bergeron’s offensive skills have emerged more playing with Seguin and he is projected to have his highest point total in five years. Marchand is the closest to Seguin in terms of speed and already has chemistry with Bergeron. Now with Seguin on his opposite wing, Marchand has the space to make plays and find his shot.
The Bruins have not had a young, talented player like Seguin for some time now. He is one of the more exhilarating players to watch when he is on the ice and even more so when he has the puck. I thought about similar players Boston has seen in other sports that compare to Seguin. Two players came immediately to mind: Rajon Rondo and Jacoby Ellsbury. These three players all have one thing in common: speed and quickness make them standouts. Although Rondo and Ellsbury were not as highly touted upon being drafted, they have nonetheless become perhaps the most exciting part of their respective teams. Rondo dribbling in the open court and Ellsbury on the basepaths is when each is at their best. The same can be said when Seguin has the puck and attacks with speed. Rondo makes everyone around him better with his passing and playmaking, just like we are seeing with Seguin. This past season, Ellsbury broke out at the plate and powered the Red Sox offense; Seguin is the Bruins’ leader in both goals and points. Similar to Seguin, both Rondo and Ellsbury had major improvements in their second full seasons:
’06-’07: 78 games, .418 FG%, 3.8 AST, 6.4 PPG
’07-’08: 77 games, .492 FG%, 5.1 AST, 10.6 PPG
2008*: 145 games, .280 AVG, 47 RBI, 50 SB
2009: 153 games, .301 AVG, 60 RBI, 70 SB
*Ellsbury only played 33 games in 2007, therefore 2008 is used for his first full season
It seems as though Boston teams are blessed with young, exciting players at the moment. Rondo and Ellsbury have gone on to have All-Star careers and are arguably the most valuable players for their teams. Seguin is making a strong push to be in that same category. The 19 year old is on pace to finish the season with 45 goals and 86 points. That would make a pretty good improvement for the second year player. We’ll have to see how close he gets to those numbers, but one thing is sure: Seguin is already one of, if not the most exciting players to watch in Boston right now.
One more similarity worth noting among Seguin, Rondo, and Ellsbury? They all have championships.