- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2012

As the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft, Tyler Seguin probably didn’t expect to sit out playoff games last season as a healthy scratch. His first two games back, he piled up six points and played a key role in the Boston Bruins‘ Stanley Cup run.

This season, Seguin, 20, made his first NHL All-Star team and is a fixture on one of the Bruins‘ top two lines. But memories of bag skates and sitting in the press box haven’t totally dissipated.

“Even in pregame skate, for some reason, I’m still thinking in my head, ‘Maybe I won’t even play tonight. Maybe I’ll get scratched,’ just from last year,” Seguin said. “It was a year ago, but it really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. It’s nice to be in different shoes this time around.”

That’s because it’s no longer even a thought for Bruins coach Claude Julien. Seguin has grown into a legitimate superstar.

“He made big steps. He mature a lot,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “Even still young guy, but he’s acting ] more as an adult and a man instead of what we saw two years ago coming as basically a boy.”

Seguin endured some bumps along the way, such as getting scratched in December for missing a mandatory team breakfast. But teammates, even when pointing out “he’s still a kid,” recognize the difference.

Enforcer Shawn Thornton gets rides from Seguin to the rink whenever the Bruins are traveling and has had plenty of chances to talk with him and see his development first-hand.

“I think anybody at 18 coming into this league, there’s a big learning curve. I think he’s still learning, but he’s taking it all in and doing the best he can with it,” Thornton said. “He’s a lot more mature than I was at that age, I’ll say that.”

This series has been a whole different kind of learning curve for Seguin. Save for posting on Twitter about a bird making a mess on his phone, he had been nearly invisible in the Bruins‘ first-round series against Washington before this past weekend.

In Saturday’s Game 5, he forced Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to make his best save of the series on a point-blank chance at the side of the net.

“I just kind of read it the last minute and got a toe on it,” Holtby said. “Probably the very last piece of metal in my skate.”

Seguin appeared snake-bitten, though Julien noted: “When those things start happening, you know it’s coming around.”

On Sunday, Seguin made the key play to set up defenseman Andrew Ference’s go-ahead goal in the third period, poking the puck away from Capitals forward Alexander Semin. Then he forced Game 7 by scoring in overtime, his first goal of the series.

“I think in this series we’ve had a lot of chances and opportunities, and I haven’t been bearing down and finishing them off,” Seguin said. “It’s just really nice to get that feeling of getting one.”

For the first five games of the series, stars such as Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic — all 20-goal scorers this season — had not been producing.

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