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Bruins not thinking about repercussions of missing playoffs 04.04.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

The Bruins might not even need to win all three of their games this week. The Red Wings are mediocre enough that it would be a surprise if they came into Boston Thursday having not lost to the Flyers the night earlier.

Yet whether it means winning two games or winning three, the Bruins need to do whatever is required of them to make the playoffs this week. If not, an organization that already needed changes might make more drastic ones. Even if he isn’t a primary reason for the Bruins’ situation, Claude Julien could be an obvious fall guy.

“We’re not even there,” Julien said of the idea of missing the postseason. “We don’t even talk about that.”

Julien is in his ninth season with the Bruins. Players like Zdeno Chara (10 years) and Dennis Seidenberg (seven years) have been around to see much better days in their time with the B’s. The Bruins’ recent era of dominance essentially ended when Johnny Boychuk was traded ahead of last season, but the longer-tenured Bruins who have won before feel they can win again in Boston.

“We look at the next game tomorrow, that we’ve got to win that. All the other [expletive], there’s no reason to look any further than that,” Seidenberg said. “I’m confident we’re going to win all these three games and make it to the playoffs.”

The Bruins will play their final three games of their regular-season schedule at TD Garden, starting with Tuesday’s contest against the Hurricanes.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,
Bruins believe in Capitals hype, but know well that ‘anything can happen’ 03.05.16 at 11:48 am ET
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The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference's lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference’s lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Eastern Conference picture has been clear pretty much all season: There’s the Capitals and there’s everyone else.

In ranking first in the NHL in goals per game and third in goals against per game, the Capitals are the clear favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final this season, but at the very least, they will run away with the Presidents’ Trophy. Their 98 points through 64 games puts them on pace for 126 points; since the return from the 2004-05 lockout, only twice has a team had a 120-point season (Detroit with 124 in 2005-06 and Washington with 121 in 2009-10). The Capitals have beaten the B’s in both of the teams’ meetings entering Saturday’s contest at TD Garden.

The Bruins are among the teams trying to establish themselves as a potential “other Eastern Conference powerhouse.” As the last Eastern Conference to win the Cup and a common favorite in seasons leading up to this one, the Bruins know well that being considered the favorite in the East doesn’t always pan out. Boston dominated the 2011-12 regular season before being knocked off by the No. 7 ranked Capitals in seven games.

“Let me put it this way: Every playoffs, there’s been surprises,” Claude Julien said Saturday morning. “I don’t put a ton of stock into who’s in and who’s out. We all know Washington’s one of the favorites in our conference; rightfully so. They have a great team and their record shows it, but in this game anything can happen.

“We go about our business and go day-by-day. To overthink that situation to me is not healthy. To just go out there and do your job and look forward to what you have to do is probably the best way to look at that situation.”

Dennis Seidenberg said that if the Bruins are no longer considered in the class they once were, it alleviates the pressure that their stronger clubs of seasons past had.

“We like being in the underdog role,” Seidenberg said. “It means we can perform without pressure, but that team is really good over there. They’re very, very deep, very balanced scoring, very deep on defense. They’re the favorite for a reason, but with that comes a lot of pressure, a lot of certainty. Once we get into the playoffs, anything can happen. That’s what happened to us when we lost against them in seven games. If there’s a team that plays well at the right time and has a goalie that plays very well, anything can happen. We’ll see.”

The Bruins will try to pull off their second consecutive upset against a Cup favorite Saturday when they host the Capitals. Much like the Blackhawks team that Boston defeated on Thursday, the Capitals will be playing the second night of a back-to-back and will have their backup goaltender in net.

Still, defeating the Blackhawks and Capitals in succession would not only be a feather in this post-deadline Bruins team’s cap, but it would secure much-needed points that many figured would be unattainable this week. The Bruins enter Saturday’s game in third place in the Atlantic Division, though current wild card Detroit sits three points behind them with one game in hand. Including Saturday, the B’s have 17 games remaining in their regular-season schedule.

“Before you know it, the season will be over,” Julien said. “There’s not that many games left, so we need to assert ourselves every game. It’s not so much what it means more than what we need to do here. We need to bring our A game and understand that we have to play a lot like we did the other night, be strong in all areas in order to beat good teams like Washington.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,
Dennis Seidenberg’s return provides hope for Bruins’ stability 11.13.15 at 12:01 am ET
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In terms of this season’s monetary compensation rankings, the Bruins got their No. 2 defenseman back from injury on Thursday night.

And while Dennis Seidenberg wasn’t on the ice nor responsible for any of the three Colorado goals scored in a 3-2 come-from-ahead loss to the Avalanche, neither did Seidenberg’s mere presence in the lineup solve Boston’s biggest woes so far in 2015-16: erratic team play and a penchant for blown leads, particularly on home ice at TD Garden.

“We had a good start like we have had in the past,” said Seidenberg, back on the ice after missing the season’s first 14 games due to back surgery. “A lot of games, actually. We just didn’t follow up, we kind of lost our game, getting pucks deep and moving our feet. They took it to us. They scored two goals in that first [period] coming back, and then we were just kind of flat it seemed like and just couldn’t get it back on track putting pressure on their net.”

If that game analysis sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Coach Claude Julien has heard it and seen it, too.

“Same old, same old, I guess,” said Julien. “We were off to a good start again and you get a 2-0 lead. Instead of continuing to play your game you’re starting to see long passes that end up in icing, you saw some turnovers at the blue line. We’re a little stubborn right now respecting our game plan the whole game.”

Julien continued: “You’re so proud of your team one night because they come in and play hard and you win hockey games and you tell yourself this is the identity of our team. This is how we’ve got to play. And then the next night it’s not there. Not every night’s going to be perfect, some nights you’ve got to grind it out a little bit more and this is what we should’ve done tonight, [but] we didn’t seem to be in sync.”

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Bruins’ defense shuffle led to rare move from Claude Julien in recent games 11.12.15 at 12:56 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

Claude Julien has been trying some new things with his lineup this season. He’s even separated Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the Bruins’€™ current equivalent of Hall & Oates (assuming you’€™re smart and don’€™t underrate John Oates).

On defense, Julien’€™s experimenting has led to an unusual occurrence recently: a righty playing the left side. That’€™s very uncommon in the NHL, but when Julien opted to take left Joe Morrow out of the lineup for righty Zach Trotman, the result was a righty (Kevan Miller) having to play his off-side. That will change once Dennis Seidenberg returns to the lineup (as early as Thursday evening).

The reasoning behind why righties typically don’€™t play the left side is simple: They never really learned to do it because they’€™ve never had to. With left-shot D outnumbering them, it’€™s so rare that a team would have more righties than lefties. As such, it’€™s common for lefties to have experience playing the right side — Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug play both sides well — but very uncommon for a righty to be comfortable over on the left.

“To me, it would be common if some of those guys really felt comfortable on those sides,’€ Julien said this week. “We’€™ve seen Dennis Seidenberg in the past play the right side and it doesn’€™t bother him to play his off-side. Some players are capable of doing that. Some others aren’€™t that comfortable because they’€™ve never done it before. We’€™re having to make some decisions here. There’€™s guys that are saying, ‘€˜I haven’€™t really done it but I’€™m willing to give it a shot,’€™ and I think we’€™ve seen enough from some of those guys to let them go there and do that job.”

Miller, one of four righties in Boston’€™s seven-man group, played the left side at times in college and in Providence due to lefties being injured at various points. Though he noted he’€™s had the odd even-strength shift here and there on the left side over the last few years — never many at a time — he said it took adjusting when playing the last couple games.

“There’€™s advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “Obviously on offensive zone faceoffs, you have certain one-timers out there and then you see different plays better sometimes, but obviously worse with others. You kind of just have to manage your game.”

Seidenberg appears close to returning, with Julien saying he’€™s a game-time decision for Thursday’€™s game against the Avalanche. Should both Seidenberg and Krug (also a game-time decision after taking Tuesday’€™s and Wednesday’€™s practices off) play, Miller will be free to return to the right side, assuming he stays in the lineup. Thursday’s morning skate saw Miller play on the right side of a pairing with Krug.

While he’€™s obviously more comfortable on the right side, he hopes the Bruins won’€™t hesitate to use him on the left if need be in the future.

“I feel like everybody would probably prefer to be on their strong side, but anything you can do to help the team, you’€™re going to do it,’€ he said. ‘€œIf they ask me to do it, then I’€™m happy to do it.”

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg ‘getting close’ to returning to Bruins’ lineup 11.11.15 at 3:23 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — While the Bruins shared some bad injury news regarding their forwards, they seem pretty close to getting some help on defense.

Dennis Seidenberg, who missed all of training camp after having back surgery on Sept. 24, is closing in on a return. Nearly seven weeks into an anticipated eight-week recovery (Thursday will mark seven weeks), Seidenberg is taking contact and participating in battle drills with teammates.

“It’€™s getting close. Closer,” Seidenberg said after taking part in 3-on-3 battle drills in Wednesday’€™s practice. “It’€™s tough to say, but I’€™m feeling better on the ice. I’€™m feeling strong in the battles. It’€™s about being more comfortable skating, and that’€™s getting better.”

Seidenberg has insisted that pain is not an issue, nor is his back. He says that he’€™s comfortable taking contact but is still monitoring how his lower-body strength is coming along since being back on the ice.

“The physical part is not the thing I have to worry about. It’€™s all about the lower leg and the strength and being able to sustain whatever challenge I have out there,” he said. “That’€™s the main thing I have to look at.”

Claude Julien said that Seidenberg is ‘€œbeing evaluated every day because he is getting closer’€ to returning to Boston’€™s lineup. It seems unlikely he would play on Thursday against the Avalanche, but it’€™s safe to say the team expects him to play at some point during the team’€™s upcoming homestand.

While the Bruins will welcome Seidenberg’€™s return if and when it comes, they’€™re also managing their expectations in the early going. Seidenberg struggled last season in his first campaign back from a torn ACL, and though he came into informal practices in the summer eager to bounce back, the fact that he hasn’€™t seen game action for roughly seven months suggests it could take time for him to hit his stride.

“When a guy hasn’€™t had a training camp and hasn’€™t had a game this year, you can’€™t expect him to come back and all of a sudden be firing on all cylinders,” Julien said. “When he does come back, we realize that we may have to monitor his ice time and who he plays against, and so on and so forth. Those are things that we’€™re prepared for the minute he’€™s good to go.”

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Dennis Seidenberg on track with recovery, unsure where he’ll slot in on Bruins D 11.03.15 at 12:07 pm ET
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When Dennis Seidenberg saw the defensive mess that allowed 16 goals over the first three games of the season, he didn’€™t put any extra pressure on himself to hurry back from a herniated disc that required surgery in late September.

The veteran defenseman wanted to help, but he was already antsy to return to the lineup in the first place.

“It doesn’€™t matter if the team loses or wins. If they lose, you’€™re like, ‘€˜I want to come back and help them.’€™ If they win, I want to be back and be part of it,” he said Tuesday. “It’€™s always better when the team does well, but I always put the same pressure on me. I want to come back as fast as possible, but also be responsible going forward.”

That responsible approach has him where he is now. Nearly six weeks into an anticipated eight-week recovery (Seidenberg had surgery on Sept. 24, so six weeks ago Thursday), the 34-year-old defenseman says he is on schedule with his recovery and not necessarily ahead of it. He’€™s been skating for over two weeks (Oct. 19) and joined teammates last week.

Seidenberg still isn’€™t taking contact, but he seemed optimistic that he’€™ll be able to add more to his plate if all goes well in the coming days.

The veteran defenseman missed all of training camp due to the back issue, which popped up during informal practices in September before eventually requiring surgery. He insisted Tuesday that he has no pain in his back, and that the brunt of his recovery has been getting his legs back. That makes sense given that Seidenberg said following his surgery that it was discomfort in his leg that initially prompted him to bring the issue to the attention of team doctors.

Given that Seidenberg’€™s back isn’€™t hurting him, he doesn’€™t feel he’€™s had to be extra careful.

“If I had pain, I would be like, ‘€˜Oh my god, I’€™ve got to be careful,’€™ but I’€™ve been feeling nothing in my back,” he said. “It’€™s just about power coming back in my leg and that’€™s the only restriction I have right now. There hasn’€™t really been a feeling where I’€™m like, ‘€˜I’€™ve got to be really careful,’€™ but then again, you look at a back injury and with nerves being involved, you do want to be a little bit cautious.”

Once Seidenberg is ready to return, it will be interesting to see how the dominos fall on Boston’€™s blue line. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid would appear to be locks to stay in the lineup, with Joe Morrow and Millers Kevan and Colin possibilities to sit. Zach Trotman has been a healthy scratch for nine consecutive games.

“To be honest, I haven’€™t really thought about that yet,” Seidenberg said. “The guys have been playing great and in the past we’€™ve always played with each other. It doesn’€™t matter who it is; we’€™ve always changed the pairings and I don’€™t see a reason why it’€™s going to be different this time.”

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Dennis Seidenberg returns to practice, Kevan Miller and Joonas Kemppainen to make trip 10.29.15 at 10:23 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw one defenseman return and another one miss practice at Ristuccia Arena. Dennis Seidenberg participated in his first practice of the season, while Kevan Miller was absent after suffering an injury Tuesday against the Coyotes.

Also absent from practice was Joonas Kemppainen, who missed a couple of shifts Tuesday as well. David Pastrnak, who missed the last 8:48 of the game after taking a shot off the foot, participated fully in Thursday’€™s practice. According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Miller skated briefly before practice.

Claude Julien said after practice that Miller and Kemppainen will make the trip to Florida for this weekend’s games. Both are game-time decisions for Friday’s game, though Julien said he expects both to play.

“Today was probably more maintenance and allowing him to be better for tomorrow,” Julien said of Miller, adding that such was also the case for Kemppainen.

The forward lines in practice were as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Connolly
Eriksson-Krejci-Pastrnak
Beleskey-Spooner-Hayes
Rinaldo-Kelly-Randell

Should Miller and Kemppainen both play, the Bruins’ lineup would figure to be unchanged from Tuesday’s win over the Coyotes, which saw Zach Trotman and Zac Rinaldo as the healthy scratches. Trotman, who has been a healthy scratch for the last seven games, would play should Miller not be able to go.

Seidenberg has been out since training camp after getting back surgery on Sept. 24. He has been skating since last Monday, but Thursday marked his first time on the ice with teammates since the surgery.

“For him, it was more to get him a little bit more encouraged by being with other players out there,” Julien said. “He just did the line drills and the puck-moving part of it. He still has a ways to go; he definitely can’t take any contact, but just the fact that he’s able to be out there with us is definitely encouraging for him.”

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Joonas Kemppainen, Kevan Miller,

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