BOSTON – Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Devils, the biggest story in Boston was the Bruins debut of Jaromir Jagr. During morning skate, another interesting storyline emerged. Playing center on Jagr’s line was Tyler Seguin, who has played right wing for pretty much his entire NHL career. The move was made out of necessity more than anything, as the Bruins were running low on centers with both Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron sidelined.
That line, which also included Brad Marchand on left wing, led the Bruins in ice time and Jagr scored the game’s lone goal, but there were certainly some bumps along the way as well. The trio got pinned in its own end a couple times in the first, Seguin went just 3-for-12 on faceoffs and had to be replaced by Rich Peverley for key defensive-zone draws, and Jagr turned the puck over twice on the Bruins’ lone power play (although he also helped create a couple good chances).
All of that was to be expected, though. Jagr is getting used to a new team and a new system, and he admitted that he was a little tired after not sleeping well Wednesday night. His linemates, meanwhile, had to get used to playing with a future Hall of Famer who likes to have the puck and likes to slow things down a little.
“We were talking a lot,” Seguin said. “Definitely when you have a new linemate, especially a guy like Jagr, you’ll be talking a lot, learning from each other, trying to build that chemistry. I thought as the game progressed we felt more and more comfortable with him.”
“Me and Segs are more straight ahead kind of guys,” Marchand added. “But we can use that to our advantage. We can use the speed and open things up for him. That’s the kind of stuff we have to do. He’s very strong on the puck, always makes great plays. We just have to give it to him and skate around and he’ll find us.”
Seguin didn’t have to deal with a trade or a move to a new city, but he did have to deal with a switch to a position he hasn’t played since juniors. Coach Claude Julien said after the game that Seguin was sometimes a little late getting to where he needed to be in the defensive zone, and Seguin admitted to being out of position at times.
“Definitely a few times, in the first especially, I found myself kind of going in the winger spot sometimes,” Seguin said. “When I was doing that I kind of just went back to the middle of the house and went from there. I wasn’t sure what to do, but as the game progressed I started, I guess, remembering things and figuring it out out there.”
Of course, there were positives for the Marchand-Seguin-Jagr line as well. Jagr’s goal was a bit of a fluke in the sense that it went in off his skate, but that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been going hard to the net. And as Seguin pointed out, the trio did get better as the game went on. They spent less time in their own end and started to generate some good scoring chances.
It remains to be seen whether this line will be a long-term solution for the Bruins. Chris Kelly could return as early as Saturday, which would give Julien the option to move Seguin back to wing and use Kelly, Peverley, David Krejci and Gregory Campbell as his four centers. That would mean someone currently in the top six would have to drop to the third line — most likely Jagr, Nathan Horton or Milan Lucic. If Marchand, Seguin and Jagr do stick together, though, it’s a pretty safe bet that they will only continue to improve.