When the puck drops at 7:07 tonight at the Garden, most B's fans tuning in will see for the first time Tyler Seguin wearing an NHL jersey that doesn't contain a spoked-B (or a daunting and menacing bear). Instead, the digits will be flipped (#91) and the trim will be white and green. And the emotions will definitely be different.
The Dallas Stars will make their one and only trip into the Boston Garden this season, a result of the newly retooled NHL scheduling. And it will be the first time Seguin plays in the building as the enemy.
In Seguin's first few weeks as a Star, he has already put up some impressive numbers in the scoring department. He's recorded 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points. Those 15 points would lead the Bruins, as David Krejci leads with 13 points (2G, 11A). Loui Eriksson, whom was the other major piece going back to Boston, has recorded 2 goals and 1 assist.
It was one of the major talking-points at the time leading up to and after the trade was made: If Seguin is jettisoned out of Claude Julien's system of hockey, which places an emphasis on defense, backchecking and being responsible in all three zones, and placed in a more open, free and offensive-oriented system, could he put up the numbers that so many had projected that he could? The early returns on that question is an emphatic yes.
However, regardless if some in camp A admit that the Bruins let go of Seguin way too early, those in camp B can retort the knee-jerk reaction to his quick start this season: Seguin was called out by coach Lindy Ruff after a 4-3 shootout win in Ottawa on Sunday. Ruff dished out some cold commentary when asked about Seguin's play. The main point of discussion? The face-off dot. Seguin lost all 13 draws he took at center. Ruff was not pleased:
“It’s tough to go 0 and 13. The compete on that has to be a
lot stronger. Scratch your nose on the ice if you have to...You’re going to
have to get lower...You’re going to have to get stronger. You’re going to have
to get kicked out a couple of times. It’s a one-on-one compete. It’s a form of
competing. Get mad. Get mad...You’ve got to look like that every time,
especially when you’re having a tough night.” - Fluto Shinzawa - Boston Globe
Sound familiar? That lack of grit and toughness that many criticized Seguin for not playing with in Boston has reared its head again in Dallas. However, the national slant on the blockbuster deal has declared the Stars as the early winners in the trade. I'm not willing to do that just yet.
Yes, Seguin may be discovering his real potential in the NHL as a premium scorer with the Stars, but is he going to take Dallas to the playoffs? Will he make them a Stanley Cup contender? Will he elevate them to another level that they have not seen in years? After all, that is what Seguin was billed as when he was drafted 2nd overall in 2010: a franchise altering center that you can build your team around for a decade to come.
As for the Bruins, does Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and the prospect-stashed-away-named Joe Morrow equal for this team more than what sticking with Seguin would have? We will have to visit that later down the road.
A more direct comparison between Eriksson and Seguin is fair, as they were the two major pieces in the deal, practically a one-for-one swap in essence. So far, Seguin has the upper hand in the bout. Eriksson has gotten off to a slow start in Boston, not helped at all by his recent concussion that knocked him out for five games.
As for tonight, let's see if Seguin can discover a new-found edge in taking on his old team and city tonight and provide another round of fireworks for fans in Boston.