Commentary

Chemistry experiment a success

Past, present and future a potent combo at Bruins camp

Updated: September 20, 2010, 9:27 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The past, present and future was on display during the Boston Bruins' intersquad game Monday afternoon at the TD Garden.

Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to have Patrice Bergeron center veteran winger Mark Recchi and rookie Tyler Seguin. Even though Seguin is a natural center, he can play both the right and left side, so that's what he did during the game.

The past, present and future (PPF) line looked good, had decent chemistry and also notched a goal when Seguin made a nifty pass from behind the net to Bergeron out front.

[+] EnlargeClaude Julien
AP Photo/Winslow Townson"We're going to be using different guys in different situations," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "[Seguin] will get a little bit of everything."

"Good chemistry," said Julien. "You could notice that from just sitting up top. There's some good chemistry there, so it's interesting. I like what I saw from those three."

But don't get too excited, because things will change during training camp. It's a safe bet, however, that this combination will be given serious consideration during the preseason games.

With Bruins center Marc Savard sidelined due to post-concussion syndrome, Seguin will get a chance to play both the middle and the wing during camp and he'll also play with different line-mates.

If winger Marco Sturm (knee) were healthy, it's assumed he'd be on the line with Bergeron and Recchi. Sturm is out until at least December after tearing his MCL and ACL in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers last May. With the addition of Seguin, along with other young, talented forwards, the Bruins will push some of the veterans during camp to earn a spot in the lineup.

"We're going to be using different guys in different situations," Julien said. "[Seguin] will get a little bit of everything. That's why we have all these different exhibition games, to try out different things. No doubt, when you look at Bergy and Recchi last year, putting somebody on that wing who will give them a little more of an offensive punch would definitely be something we want to look at."

Meanwhile, the PPF line was happy with their first audition together.

THE PAST: By no means are we calling Recchi's career a thing of the past. The 42-year-old continues to defy the odds every season. This will be his 22nd season in the NHL and he has become a very important mentor for young players in the league, including Sidney Crosby when the two played for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's been only a small sample size, but Recchi said he has been impressed with Seguin so far.

"It was good. He can skate and he's skilled," Recchi said. "Bergy, I know like the back of my hand, so it was great being out there with [Seguin]. He made a great play to Bergy and he's going to be a heck of a player."

Even though it's still early in camp, Recchi admitted he would like to play with Seguin during the regular season.

"Time will tell. The coach will piece it together, but we'll help him out any way we can," Recchi said. "I don't know what coach has planned for exhibition, but if we play together it'll be great. He's a skilled player and looks like he wants to learn and wants to be a good player. It would be fun."

Recchi said he enjoys the mentoring role and has never forgotten what it was like as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fortunately, he had veteran players like Joe Mullen and Bryan Trottier to guide him. Recchi said he still appreciates what those guys did for him, so he's happy to give back to younger players now.

"It's fun. It's enjoyable, especially when you have good kids," Recchi said. "It's not enjoyable when they're not good kids, but 99 percent of it I've had great kids who want to get better and learn, and that's why they're great players in the league. [Seguin] seems, so far, to really want to be a good kid, good teammate and good player."

THE PRESENT: Bergeron knows all too well how Seguin is feeling in his first training camp. Even though it seems like ages, it was only seven seasons ago when Bergeron was an 18-year-old rookie with the Bruins. Bergeron was fortunate enough to have players like then-Bruins forward Marty Lapointe as a mentor off the ice, while playing with the likes of Sergei Samsonov on the ice. Bergeron said he felt comfortable with Seguin during Monday's scrimmage.

"He's a great player," Bergeron said. "The first shift we both thought we were in the middle, but then we figured it out. It was good. He's always well positioned and he's got that good speed, so it helps him a lot."

Bergeron said he did not know until prior to the scrimmage that the three would be playing together.

"It clicked right away and I felt good with both of them," Bergeron said.

Like Recchi, Bergeron said he would like to see how the PPF line would fare during the regular season.

"We'll see. I'm not the coach or the GM, so I have no idea what's going to happen, or what's going to unfold," he said. "There are so many great players on this team that I'll play with anyone. If it comes down to having Tyler on my wing, it's going to be great. He's a great player."

THE FUTURE: Playing with Bergeron and Recchi will only help Seguin's development. The veterans said they will try to keep the pressure off the rookie and keep the game fun. Seguin seemed comfortable and confident on that line and he admitted as much afterward.

"It felt great," he said. "It was a lot easier getting great passes, and anytime you play with great players it's pretty fun. Today was a lot of fun."

It's too early to completely assess Seguin's ability at this level, but it's apparent his transition will be a smooth one.

"It's only been a couple practices, and an intersquad game, so I can't really say how the season is going," Seguin said. "Right now I feel like I'm keeping up with the pace and I'm comfortable and confident."

No matter what happens during the regular season, or what line combinations Julien throws at opponents, the PPF line could be an exciting one to watch.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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