By Mike Harrington
Lindy Ruff has made several references this year to the Sabres' plan of using Mikhail Grigorenko as being similar to what the Bruins did during the 2010-11 season with winger Tyler Seguin.
Two years ago, a season he began at age 18, Seguin was a healthy scratch seven times during the regular season and scored 11 goals. But he really produced in the playoffs with a couple key goals in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa -- and those came after he was scratched for every game in the first two rounds against Montreal and Philadelphia.
Last year, Seguin burst on the scene with 29 goals, 67 points and a plus-34 rating. So far this year, he hasn't been as good (two goals, six points, plus-8 in 11 games) but he still plays 17:46 a night.
I asked Boston coach Claude Julien today about the process of massaging young players through the early travails of their career and he said the Bruins had a distinct plan in mind.
"If a player accepts [being a scratch] easily, you're disappointed. But you don't expect him to whine about it and sulk about it," Julien said. "When it's introduced properly and explained properly, I think there's a lot of benefits to it. The guys we've done that to in the past have really grown from it.
"You don't like sitting out, so what does that do? It builds character. Yeah, you're angry inside but you watch the game from up top and see what's going on and it clarifies a lot of things. I know for a fact a lot of players have said it's done them good to watch from the top and see a little bit more of what's going on.
"It's worked for us. We feel sometimes patience and sitting out a guy for the right reasons has helped a guy develop the proper way."
For all the Sabres' issues this year, the development of Grigorenko hasn't really been one of them so far. He's playing 11:28 a night, has a goal, two assists and a minus-3 rating. He's back on the third line, where he should be, and is starting to get more chances.
Ruff correctly said Tuesday's game in Ottawa was one of the 18-year-old's better two-way games of the year but his ice time got negatively impacted by the Sabres' second-period penalty run.
If the losing continues, the Sabres may as well keep pumping up Grigorenko's ice time and keep moving forward with the on-the-job training.
taggedBoston Bruins | Mikhail Grigorenko