The hesitation to buy into Tyler Seguin(notes) was understandable. One game. One admittedly spectacular goal. One stirring debut for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins, but it could have been a one-hit wonder.
Some didn't want to chastise Claude Julien's decision to scratch the kid like a rash for 12 games, allowing his power play to fumble and bumble while Seguin's playmaking hands sat idle.
Some declared "the kid's not ready to be relied upon just yet." Some playfully referred to those desirous to see the 19-year-old in the lineup as "Seguinistas."
In Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Seguin proved the doubters wrong and rewarded his true believers. Four points and a plus-3 in 13:31 of ice time in the Bruins' chaotic 6-5 win over the Bolts to even the series.
His four points in a period tied an NHL rookie playoff record. He now has six points in his first two playoff games, which ties the debut totals for Jean Beliveau and Dale Hawerchuk, one point behind Barry Pederson's 1982 record of seven.
He said he found his confidence in his first playoff game. In his second playoff game, he found the defining moment of his young NHL career.
At 48 seconds into the second period, on his fifth shift of the game, Seguin tied it 2-2:
The Bruins get a turnover from the Lightning "Grind Line," and Michael Ryder(notes) sent a pass to Seguin between the defenders. Victor Hedman(notes) lunged for him and couldn't knock the puck away, earning a delayed penalty. Randy Jones(notes) was flat-out beaten. Dwayne Roloson(notes) was the last line of defense, and only he knows why he was schooled by the kid.
Adam McQuaid(notes) gets this play going, springing the 2-on-1, but check out the way Seguin helps set it up giving Nathan Horton(notes) space and then motoring into the zone. The pass came early, as If Horton wanted to give the gunslinger his shot. Clark dove like a shortstop trying to stop a speeding grounder; Seguin roofed it for his second of the game.
Later, with Vinny Lecavalier in the box for hooking, Tomas Kaberle(notes) fed Seguin for the one-timer. His shot was deflected by Michael Ryder off Roloson; Ryder collected the rebound and cashed it in … with Clark standing there, helpless. That made it 5-3 at 16:16 of the third.
It was around this time when the "Ty-ler Se-guin!" chants were audible around the Garden. But the kid wasn't done.
With less than a minute in the second, Seguin came rocketing off the bench to break up a St. Louis outlet pass. After making a play to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone, Seguin found himself with the puck on the boards and his back to the play.
So he did what any 19-year-old in his second Stanley Cup Playoff game would do, which is to send a blind backhand pass to the slot.
That was the goal that chased Roloson, the backbone of the Lightning for 12 postseaon games, the guy with the eight-game winning streak, the guy who hadn't given up six goals since Feb. 17.
It was a different Seguin than Bruins fans had seen in the pros. He called it a "learning curve"; but the fact is that he played with a ferocity and dominance he hadn't shown in the NHL. Hell, the guy even looks like a different person now (Playoff Seguin on left):
Was he motivated by Julien's decision to keep him out of the series?
"I tried to take everything in and learn as much as I can," he said. "Whenever I face adversity, I try to take a negative and turn it into a positive."
Seguin wears No. 19 in honor of Steve Yzerman, the GM of the Lightning, but didn't meet his idol until two years ago. Yzerman was scouting for the Detroit Red Wings and Seguin was a 17-year-old NHL prospect.
"I wanted to get on my knees and ask for an autograph," Seguin told OilersNation, "but I tried to stay humble and be as professional as I could."
Yzerman may not ask for his autograph. But in his 13 minutes on the ice in Game 2, Seguin humbled his idol's team.