The best player on the ice for the Bruins in the seven games against the Capitals couldn’t make up for one huge deficiency — the Bruins couldn’t defend home ice.
“I mean, no, last year it was [an advantage] for us, this year not so much,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg  said. “We just, when first stepping into this didn’t seem to have our legs on. We just didn’t get anything going, it was more like a ping-pong match going back and forth until we found our rhythm in the second period, but the home ice wasn’t really there.”
Indeed, in the 2011 the Bruins went 10-3 on home ice in winning their first Stanley Cup  in 39 years. One year later, they barely won 1-0 in overtime in Game 1 at home and lost the next three at the Garden to see their dreams of back-to-back Cups come to a crashing halt.
“It was a long year,” Seidenberg said. “We had a few ups and downs, longer ups than downs. At the end, we came out of it strong and we seemed to find our rhythm going into the playoffs. But then again, we didn’t play our best hockey in this series. They played us well. It was tough.
“It’s definitely a weird feeling. It’s an empty feeling. You’re wondering what’s going to happen. You don’t really realize it’s over. It’s summer now. It’s going to be a long summer. A couple of bounces here or there, it could’ve gone the other way. You always have to look at it from a different perspective. The next couple of days, it’s going to sink in, probably.”
Seidenberg gave props to the seventh-seeded Capitals for hanging in as long as they did to have the chance to land the knockout punch on the champs.
“Well, they played us very well,” Seidenberg said. “They never really gave us momentum, they played very patient defensively and always used their chances to their advantage, I guess, in overtime. They just played a great series and their goalie played well and now it’s just a really weird, empty feeling, I guess.
“I mean, we totally took them serious. We knew how explosive they are offensively and how solid they are defensively. They were set to play a solid game, they seem to take our speed away pretty well all throughout the ice, and that’s what made it hard for us to penetrate on the outside or even to the middle with speed into their offensive zone.”
It was Seidenberg who had never lost a Game 7 entering Wednesday’s tilt. He was a perfect 4-0 in such situations, including winning all three in 2011. But this year, in so many ways, was different.
“Yeah, I mean, you always keep rolling with the team when you go through adversity,” Seidenberg said. “Especially like [Zdeno Chara ] said, we had tough times, we battled through them. The only thing you can take out of it is you get an experience and hope to do better the next time it comes around, so that’s about it.”
Seidenberg did everything he could — alongside Chara — to give the Bruins every chance to win Wednesday. He lost his stick midway through the third period on the penalty kill but scrambled and managed to block a shot from Alex Ovechkin  in front of Tim Thomas .
“Well, I had no stick. I saw [a Capitals player] winding up for a shot and most of the times they are looking for the winger, I think it was Ovechkin, and see pass — and we are watching a lot of video and we know their tendencies — and all you do is try to keep yourself in a shooting lane and try and block that shot, and that’s what happened. I got lucky.”
Then, early in overtime, he came back and delivered a powerful backcheck on Ovechkin to take him completely out of the play. But minutes later, Joel Ward tapped in a rebound off a Mike Knuble shot and the season was suddenly and shockingly over.
“It’s such a weird feeling,” Seidenberg said. “You play hard, it’s a tight game and suddenly a bounce goes against you and suddenly the season’s over. For the first few minutes, and even right now, you’re wondering what time practice is tomorrow, but there is no practice. It’s going to be a long summer and we have to get ready for next year again.
Now Seidenberg and the Bruins have an unwanted head start on healing their bodies and minds after the grind in trying to defend the Cup title.
“More mentally, I think,” Seidenberg said. “Physically, I felt — I can only speak for myself — I felt really well. There were times throughout the season where you’d just get mentally fatigued and we’re just dragging along and I think that was the hardest part. But again, you learn all those situations and try and make it better next time.”