After managing just three wins and 21 goals in 10 games in October, Boston has already won each of its first three games in November, scoring 18 goals in those three contests.
Tyler Seguin has played a big role in that. He leads the Bruins with 8-7-15 totals in 13 games and recorded his first NHL hat trick in front of his friends and family, as well as that Phil Kessel guy, Saturday in Toronto. Not surprisingly, questions about Seguin dominated this week's mailbag.
I've done my best to answer as many of them as possible, as well as a few that didn't involve Seguin, but there were still plenty of questions I couldn't get to. As always, I'd like to thank all the readers who sent in questions and apologize in advance if I wasn't able to get to yours. Please keep submitting your questions and I'll answer as many of them as I can as we continue on in the season.
Doug, Seeing as Tyler Seguin is obviously the B's best offensive player, why is he not playing in his natural position of center? I know being moved up to the first line, playing with more talented linemates has allowed him to play more freely and thus giving him more opportunities to score and make plays. Shouldn't it be time to see him in his natural position?
With the way things are going right now, I don't think there's any need to mess with where Seguin is playing. Yes, he's a natural center and that may be where he ends up playing later in his career, but for now, I think he's showing that he can be extremely effective on the wing. The combination of him with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has been particularly productive since they were put together. There seems to be some real chemistry there, so I'd definitely prefer keeping that trio together.
And while Seguin has been excellent this year offensively and his all-around game is improving, the Bruins are simply stronger in all three zones with Bergeron and David Krejci in the middle. Bergeron (56.1 percent) and Krejci (55.9 percent) are also significantly more effective on faceoffs than Seguin (45.6 percent). The Bruins are fortunate enough to have last year's leading playoff scorer and one of the top two-way centers in the league in Krejci and Bergeron, respectively. There's no need to push them out of their positions while Seguin is still learning the defensive side of the game and has proven to be doing just fine where he is right now.
Do you think that Tyler Seguin will continue the pace he has been on and become a top scorer this season? Or is this just a glimpse of what is to come in the near future?
–Matthew Gilman, Portsmouth, N.H.
I think it's a little bit of both. While the sample size is still small, Seguin certainly appears to be the real deal, which was exactly what you would expect of a player with his draft status and pedigree. Barring injury, I do think he will finish at or near the top of the Bruins leaderboard for the season. But remember, Krejci and Milan Lucic tied for the team lead last year with just 62 points. Seguin is currently on pace for 95.
I think there are still some growing pains to come and Seguin will hit some slumps to fall short of that total. After all, only Marc Savard with 96 in 2006-07 and Joe Thornton with 101 in 2002-03 have scored 95 or more points in a season for the Bruins in the past decade. Seguin may have some 90- or even 100-point campaigns at some point in his career, but I don't think he'll get there quite that quickly to do it this year. Then again, who expected him to have 15 points through 13 games? So I wouldn't risk the paycheck in Vegas betting against him at this point.
If Tyler Seguin continues to play well can you see him eventually taking over as the team's No. 1 center? Could this mean David Krejci's days as a Bruin are limited?
Deciding Krejci's future is the biggest decision Peter Chiarelli will have to make this year. Krejci's contract is up after this season, though the Bruins will still control his rights as a restricted free agent. He's carrying a $3.875 million cap hit now on his current deal, and it will likely take close to the $5 million-a-year territory that Bergeron is now making to get Krejci re-signed. The Bruins should have the cap space to make those numbers work, though there is certainly some uncertainty about where the cap will stand next year with the CBA expiring this offseason. The Bruins also have to look ahead to the following summer, when Nathan Horton, Lucic, Marchand and Seguin himself are among the players who will be needing new deals.
Having seen what this club looks like when Krejci is at his best (last year's Cup run) and what it's looked like without him (the 2010 collapse after his wrist injury), I think the Bruins would be best served in finding a way to keep Krejci around, even if that means extending Seguin's stay on the wing a few more years. The Bruins do have leverage with Krejci because of Seguin's emergence and ability to play center, so they could play some hardball with him or explore options to trade from that strength down the middle to address other areas of need. Personally, I'd stay away from that latter course. I find it hard to believe they'd land a scoring winger in exchange for Krejci that would be better than just keeping Seguin on the wing. Krejci appears determined to make Chiarelli see things that way as well, as he's finally come alive after a slow start. After managing just one point with a minus-5 in his first eight games and missing three others with a core injury, Krejci has broken out with six points and is a plus-4 in his last two games.
Wondering why Big Z [Zdeno Chara] doesn't use his 100 mph shot more often on the power play? And Lucic has to hit more and perhaps drop his gloves instead of cheap penalties. Finally have to find a way to beat those Montreal Hab-nots. They are in our heads, they are not that good but beat us all the time.
—Scott MacPherson, Alexandria, Ontario, Canada
Thus ends the Tyler Seguin portion of this week's mailbag. Scott sneaks in three questions in one, though technically the last two were more statements so I'll let it slide, but I will have to be a bit brief in response to get to a few other readers as well. Chara has proven repeatedly at skills competitions that no one can match the power of his slap shot. The problem is that in a real game, that weapon still has limited effectiveness. No matter how hard the shot, quality NHL goalies will stop themalmost every time unless there is a screen or deflection in front. Tipping a shot that hard is not easy to do, and the risk of injuries to his own teammates creating traffic in front is too high to unleash that cannon at full blast too often, which is why you’ll see Chara continue to be selective on the power switch and opt for better accuracy at lower mphs.
Lucic's offense has come around (7-5-12 in last 7 games after 0-1-1 in his first 6), so there's not too much to complain about with his game. I do wish he would get back to more playing more physically, as I think that would open up space for even more chances for him and his linemates. And you can't use the lame, old "he's too important to spend time in the box" argumentsince he has 22 PIMs already even without a fighting major. I'd rather see him sit for five once every few games than take two for hooking every night.
Lastly, I'm not sure the Canadiens are really in the Bruins' heads. Boston did beat them when it mattered most last spring. The Bruins were struggling against just about everybody they played in October, so I think that home-and-home sweep was less about anything the Habs did than what the Bruins failed to do. As painful as those two games were though, it may prove beneficial in the long run as that appears to have finally been the rock bottom the Bruins needed to hit to turn things around and start playing like their old selves again.
Doug, what's with the Bruins schedule lately? Play Saturday, off until Thursday. Play Tuesday, off until Saturday, etc. Seems like this schedule can't help any momentum they may pick up.
–John Carreiro, Nashville, N.C.
That's just the usual quirks of the NHL schedule. Every team has some occasional lulls and other stretches that are extremely busy. It usually balances out in the end. The Bruins didn't seem too affected by the three-day layoff between the Ottawa and Toronto games last week, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. And it's about to become irrelevant anyway, because there won't be many more breaks for a while. They have 11 more games in the final 21 days of November and play a pretty packed schedule the rest of the way, including 25 games in the final 46 days of the regular season. Fourteen of those are on the road, including a West Coast swing in late March, so the Bruins better hope they got enough rest when they had the chance last month.
We haven't seen Joe Corvo do much in his time here. When do you think he will he start being a prominent member of this team?
–via Twitter, @bruinsgirl33 (Sara T.)
Corvo hasn't had the impact offensively so far that was hoped, particularly on the power play. He did end a six-game scoring drought with an assist on Monday, so maybe that will be the start of something. He's certainly getting plenty of chances, as he trails just Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in ice time with an average of 20:17 a game. That includes 3:15 a game on the power play, where he has two assists. Corvo's reached double digits in goals four times in the last six seasons and has yet to score his first as a Bruin. He's still got a potent shot that he's not shy about using, and with the ice time he's seeing, the numbers should start to come soon.
In the meantime, it could be worse. He's still outperforming Tomas Kaberle in virtually every category. Corvo has 0-4-4 totals and is even in plus-minus with seven hits, 14 blocked shots and 30 shots in 13 games. Kaberle has 0-3-3 totals and is a minus-5 with just two hits, nine blocked shots and 21 shots while averaging 18:41 (4:08 on the power play) in 15 games. And Corvo carries a cap hit of $2.25 million after this year compared to the $4.25 million Kaberle will be costing the Canes for the next three seasons.
Hi Doug, In your opinion, any chance of [Lane] MacDermid getting a call-up, in lieu of [Jordan] Caron or [Benoit] Pouliot? He's currently tied for fourth in scoring with Providence after 13 games. He would add a little more grit. I'm just not sure how responsible he is defensively, fitting into [Claude] Julien's system. Thoughts?
–Peter Corrado, East Haven, Conn.
Caron has picked up his game in the past week and Pouliot finally made a contribution with his first goal of the season to open the scoring on Monday, so they've likely each bought themselves some more time. The Bruins could still be dipping into the Providence pool soon though, with Daniel Paille's status for the next few games in question after he took a puck to the face in a scary incident Monday. Also, Rich Peverley is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. If both of them are out, the Bruins will need another forward. Zach Hamill might get the first crack with his strong start in Providence (team-leading 5-5-10 totals), but MacDermid should definitely be a consideration. He would actually be a better fit to fill in for Paille on the fourth line if Julien wants to keep his other lines intact.
I have only seen Providence play once this season, but based on his development over the past couple of years and his performance at camp, I don't think there would be any issues with MacDermid playing in Julien's system. In addition to being a capable fighter, MacDermid showed some offensive touch in the preseason and has 2-3-5 totals so far for Providence. He's also a responsible player who's been used as a penalty killer down there, so the Bruins could do a lot worse if they need to add a healthy body up front.
Do you see the Bruins climbing into a potential playoff position by the end of the month with the will to win they showed of late?
–Billy Grimm, Methuen, Mass.
The Bruins better make their move up the standings by the end of this month. The further they get into the season mired close to the bottom of the standings, the harder it will be for them to recover. History shows that very few teams that are not in a playoff position by Thanksgiving are able to make up that ground and reach the playoffs. With the extra points available for teams losing in overtime or shootouts, it is very difficult to pass teams the deeper it gets into the season. Even this early, the Bruins' current win streak illustrates how tough it is to move up, as their three straight wins took them only from 15th in the East to a tie for 13th/14th with the Canadiens (though the Bruins do have the tiebreaker with one fewer game played and one more win than the Habs).
Seeing the Canadiens stuck beside them further amplifies the point, as Montreal wasn't able to move up despite a recent four-game win streak that included the home-and-home sweep of the Bruins. Boston finally seems to have snapped out of its funk and got things going in the right direction, but their October struggles haven't left much margin for error the rest of the way and they have to take advantage of this heavy home schedule in the next couple weeks to make a move back within striking range soon.
Leave your questions for Douglas Flynn’s mailbag in the comments section below, send them to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send them here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week. Be sure to check back to see if your question was answered.