Bruins notebook

They’re experiencing success

Seguin isn’t only impressive rookie

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 8, 2010

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PRAGUE — Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron aren’t the only rookies to make it through Bruins training camp. Fellow forward Brad Marchand has only 20 games on his NHL résumé and is technically still a rook. On the back line, Adam McQuaid, all 6 feet 5 inches of him, logged 19 games with Boston last season and also meets the Calder Trophy standard (no more than 25 games prior to the season’s start).

No telling, at the moment, how many of those four frosh will find their way into the lineup when the Bruins open their season against the Coyotes tomorrow.

Seguin is a virtual lock because he is one of the four centers coach Claude Julien has used in recent exhibition games and practices. His game is still tentative at times, lacking confidence and essential boldness in places, but his skating and stick skills are abundant. He’s a player, but still an 18-year-old kid, with body and mind in need of maturation.

“Tyler’s caught up to a lot of things,’’ said Julien. “He’s done a better job in some of the areas we talked about — defensive zone coverage, breakouts . . .’’

Caron and Marchand often have been slotted in practices to share a wing position (right or left) with another forward on various line combinations. Knowing Julien’s penchant to lean on veterans, one of them might sit out tomorrow.

Most likely, Marchand gets the nod to work the left side of a Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton energy line. Caron might have to sit, allowing reclamation project Michael Ryder the courtesy of suiting up on opening night. Julien could opt for Caron over Danny Paille, but again, Julien leans toward the experience factor.

However, making note of Colorado’s success in playing rookies last season (Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi prime examples), Julien hinted at the prospect yesterday that he could opt for youth over experience in some situations.

“You have to be careful not to be afraid to use them,’’ he said. “[Seguin and Caron] are two quality young players. We have confidence in them. They’re here because we think they can play.’’

On the dawn of a new season, with Boston’s last Stanley Cup now 38 years in the rearview mirror, Seguin and Caron enter with some of that Jim Rice-Fred Lynn “gold dust twins’’ expectation. Or maybe a Joe Thornton-Sergei Samsonov comparison would be better.

Like Thornton and Samsonov, Seguin and Caron are both first-round picks, both forwards, and they both arrive with the expectation that they’ll quickly put up strong offensive numbers and enjoy long careers on Causeway Street. To temper those expectations, let us all remember the rookie years of Mssrs. Thornton and Samsonov. Then-coach Pat Burns kept Jumbo Joe (3-4—7 in 55 games) in the kiddies’ corner much of the year. Samsonov thrived (22-25—47) and won the Calder.

Meet the team
The Bruins took the day off, allowing the training camp survivors time to rest, tour, or simply stretch their legs with a stroll across the historic Charles Bridge that is nearly adjacent to the team’s downtown hotel.

“We’ve only had three days off since the start of camp,’’ said Julien. “And two of those days were in Vermont [for a team-building retreat]. Other than that, it’s been just the one day on this trip [spent traveling from Belfast to here]. So it was time to give everyone a rest.’’

But it was not a full day away from hockey. Early in the morning, Julien gathered his charges at the hotel for an instructional session of game video. Later in the morning, the players met for about an hour with a tour group from New England that included some 130 Black-and-Gold fans.

The fans were scheduled to watch a workout at The 02 arena, then have their meet-and-greet there. But when the open workout was scrubbed, the loyal legion of fans was directed to the hotel for about a 60-minute casual meeting with the players on a small plaza high above the Vltava River. Hard to find a more scenic setting for the fandom. A far cry from the look down Causeway Street.

Players were spread out in pairs at high-top tables. Zdeno Chara was closest to the entry, paired with rookie Matt Bartkowski, the young defenseman who was assigned to Providence Wednesday.

Nearly every fan stopped at Big Z’s table, and the smiling captain signed all manner of souvenirs, shook hands, and posed for pictures.

Hurry back
Julien, impressed by Bartkowski’s first pro camp, noted that goalie Tuukka Rask benefited greatly by playing three years in the minors, then quickly dismissed the notion that Bartkowski’s time on the farm would be that long. “We feel we have some really, really good defensemen,’’ said Julien. “How long [Bartkowski] stays in the minors remains to be seen — and you can read between the lines there. He’s good. He’s close to being able to help us. I don’t think Bartkowski will need to be [in Providence] for three years.’’ . . . Patrice Bergeron on some of the specifics that the Bruins have tried to improve when concentrating on better play in the neutral zone: “It’s about getting more speed, moving your feet. You have to make sure you make yourself available [for a pass], not move or back away — and communicate out there, fill lanes.’’

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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