|Looking back and ahead: Dennis Seidenberg||05.29.12 at 8:47 pm ET|
With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 80 games played, 5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points, plus-15 (career-high)
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 season ($3.25 million cap hit).
Looking back: Seidenberg followed his best offense season (career-high seven goals and 73 points) with another solid campaign for the B’s, playing on the second pairing for the Bruins once again and posting the best plus-minus of his career.
Seidenberg’s rating didn’t come close to that of his postseason partner (Zdeno Chara had a plus-33), but consider that Seidenberg spent most of the season paired with Joe Corvo, who struggled in all areas of the ice but was especially turnover-prone, leading to scoring chances for opposing teams.
The German defenseman enjoyed his second straight healthy season, as 2011-12 was the second consecutive campaign in which he played at least 80 regular-season games and every playoff game.
In the playoffs, Claude Julien reunited Chara and Seidenberg to make a shutdown pairing, much like he did with great success in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run. Seidenberg had a modest plus-1 rating in the Bruins’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Capitals, but was arguably the best player on the ice for the B’s in the first round. Given that the pairing played against Washington’s first line, Seidenberg got to know Alexander Ovechkin very well through a series of big hits and collisions.
In the end, the Bruins didn’t get a chance to see how the Chara-Seidenberg pairing would fare against other opponents, and while there was plenty of blame to go around for the Bruins’ first-round failure, it would be hard to place any on Seidenberg.
A productive 2011-12 season goes down as the latest piece of evidence that teams didn’t fully understand what was there when Seidenberg remained unsigned as training camp for the 2009-10 season began.
Looking ahead: Seidenberg has two years remaining on his deal, and given what a well-conditioned athlete he is and the fact that he’s gotten better with age, the Bruins won’t want to see him leave.
He’s an absolute steal at $3.25 million annually, making his contract signed following the 2009-10 season easily one of the best deals Peter Chiarelli has pulled off since coming to Boston. The trade to get him certainly worked out for Boston too, as Chiarelli got Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick.
Next season, Seidenberg will likely remain on the second pairing during the regular season, separated from Chara until the postseason. The question is who he will have as his defensive partner. The Bruins figure to have a different mix of blueliners next season, as Greg Zanon, Corvo and Mike Mottau are all free agents and Dougie Hamilton should be a safe bet to make the team out of training camp.
If Hamilton shows early on that he can handle the workload, perhaps the Bruins could trust the former ninth overall pick with Seidenberg. Hamilton projects to at the very least be a top-six defenseman, and once he gets comfortable in the NHL after a season or two, the idea of having Chara, Seidenberg and Hamilton (plus Johnny Boychuk) would make the Bruins’ defense stellar regardless of who else is there.
|Dennis Seidenberg: ‘We didn’t play our best hockey’||04.26.12 at 1:49 am ET|
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.”
|Bruins getting offensive with the defense||04.24.12 at 10:21 am ET|
For all of the talk – and deservedly so – about Patrice Bergeron finally getting nominated as a finalist for the Selke award for best defensive forward in the game, it’s ironic that the offensive play of the Bruins’ defensemen is a key reason they even find themselves in a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Caps.
“Yeah, they’ve played well all series, but also I think all year and it’s just another aspect of our game that shows right there that we’re deep offensively, but also we’re deep on defense and throughout the lineup,” Bergeron said Monday. “They’ve been helping us in this series a lot to just get offense, but also defensively to stop their skilled guys and can’t say enough about all of them back there. They all do their job and they all take pride in it.”
Everyone knows about the abilities of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in helping to contain Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. And everyone knows that both of them bring cannons from the point with their slap shots. What fans – and even the Caps – may not have counted on was the offensive contributions of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference.
Boychuck had one of his patented “Johnny Rockets” on a power play to tie Saturday’s Game 5 at 3-3, when time was running down. Sunday, it appeared for all the world that Ference – on “Earth Day” – had given the Bruins the game-winning goal in regulation when he pinched down and scooped up a rebound off a Tyler Seguin shot and put it in the net.
Earlier in the game, it was Ference who smartly read the rush of Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley out of the offensive zone circle draw toward the slot and fired a shot that Peverley tipped past Braden Holtby for the game’s first goal.
“I think he’s done a great job,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “We’ve always liked Andrew’s battle and also for his size and also for the fact that he certainly has good versatility. He moves well, he skates well and again, we keep encouraging our D’s to support the attack and go out the ice and he’s done a great job of that.”
There is a risk, of course, like when Chara and Seidenberg get caught too far up ice as was the case on Capitals’ goals in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, the Capitals tied the game, 2-2, when Jason Chimera got behind Seidenberg, who had a broken skate, and beat Tim Thomas.
“Our D’s seem to be finding a little bit more balance in this series as we get near the end, between jumping in [and] supporting, and also being reliable defensively we can’t forget the fact that this is a team in Washington that’s got some guys that can score goals and they love to blow the zone quickly. So we’ve got to be careful we don’t get our D’s caught up the ice all the time, but he did a great job [Sunday] at identifying that opening and going up the ice and giving us that lead.”
The Bruins will be relying on that again in Game 7 as they look for every advantage.
|Barry Pederson on M&M: Capitals play into Bruins’ hands by focusing on physicality||04.13.12 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Friday to discuss Thursday night’s 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“If we had any doubt that Seidenberg was going to take his game to the same level it was at last year in the playoffs, man, did he ever show that,” Pederson said. “He and [Zdeno] Chara I thought did a tremendous job on the Ovechkin line. Of course, they had the advantage of having [Patrice] Bergeron‘s line out there as well. And then [David] Krejci‘s line did a great job against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin.
“The Bruins were very solid physically. Defensively I thought they were tremendous. The game I didn’t think should have been as close as it was. I thought in the second period in particular, the Bruins on the power play, they had 4 1/2 minutes to start the second period, the power play, and then they had that 4-on-3 a full two minutes. To me, that’s where the game should have been put out of reach for Washington. They only had seven shots against after two periods. The Bruins let them hang around, then they needed Tim Thomas to kind of hold the fort for them in that third period.”
Added Pederson: “The Bruins’ strength, as we all know, is their defensive game led by Thomas and Chara and Seidenberg and the physicality that they bring. If Washington wants to play that way, that to me is playing right into the Bruins’ hands. When you see a player like Ovechkin trying to take a run at Seidenberg and Chara, you could just see that pairing just licking their chops, saying, ‘Come on, bring it on. If we can get you off that offensive game and get you thinking about playing physical, that’s an advantage to us.’ ”
The Bruins struggled Thursday on the power play, a reminder of the team’s problems in last year’s playoffs.
“They were just way too stationary,” Pederson said. “When you watch the replays of it, you can just see they’re all standing — if you envision a box, they’re at each corner of the box, with the three Washington defenders allowed to collapse, and nobody was in a scoring position. So, Washington is just saying, ‘Hey, keep the puck on the outside, that’s fine, our goaltender can see it, there’s no traffic in front, there’s nobody who’s a direct threat to us.’ I just thought they got way too stationary.
“When the Bruins power play looked a little bit better that latter part of the season into the final month, they were moving around. I especially remember [Rich] Peverly on the point on the power play was very active. They were dropping down. Seidenberg would be dropping down and getting involved and not just staying stationary, moving the puck to the point. Because one of the things I was very impressed with with Washington, especially in the first two periods, they were blocking a lot of shots. So, for the Bruins to be successful, they’re going to have to get those shots through. They’re going to have to get their defense involved a little bit more by pinching and by being active in the offensive zone.”
|Bruins look for rare Game 1 victory||04.12.12 at 1:38 pm ET|
Not to rain on 2011′s parade, but one detail that may go forgotten as the story of that Bruins team is told is that the Bruins lost Game 1 of every series except the one they swept against the Flyers.
In hindsight, it’s just a minor detail that showed the makeup of the team. They came back from 1-0 deficits in three times, and from 2-0 deficits twice. They were resilient, and they didn’t give in whenever they fell behind.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the B’s would probably rather change that aspect of this postseason by picking up some Game 1 victories.
Two of those Game 1 losses were shutouts, as the B’s were blanked by Carey Price in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and Roberto Luongo in the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins obviously recovered nicely in both series as well as the Eastern Conference finals (they lost Game 1, 5-2, to Tampa Bay), but they’d rather start their series with the Capitals differently.
“This team has a lot of confidence and knows how to play under pressure and just knows how to come back from deficits in a series or in a game, but it doesn’t mean we can just rely on that,” B’s defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We have to be focused and bring our A game tonight.”
The numbers are skewed a bit by their 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals last year, but the B’s were outscored, 11-9 in Game 1s last postseason (8-2 in their Game 1 losses). In the rest of the postseason, they outscored their opponents by a 72-42 margin.
A series is not won and lost in the first game, and truthfully, losing three of four Game 1s is a good thing because it means a team played in four Game 1s. Still, taking a series lead on home ice couldn’t hurt, could it?
|Was hit on Adam McQuaid dirty? ‘Reckless’ is more like it||03.30.12 at 12:07 am ET|
At first glance, the Jason Chimera hit on Adam McQuaid with six minutes left in the first period Thursday evokes emotions of anger and revenge.
But even the Bruins, who have been on both sides of vicious hits over the last several seasons, were careful to choose their words carefully after the game, given the fine line between finishing your check and hitting from behind and endangering a vulnerable player.
Chimera was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit that left McQuaid on the ice for several minutes with a gash over his eye and a dazed head.
The Bruins reaction? Measured.
“Well, you know, again, when it happens to you, you also have to be honest about it. I think, again, he came off the bench, and he was going hard, and maybe it was a little bit reckless, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t intentional,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, McQuaid, Mac just turned at the last second and, you know, put himself in a bit of vulnerable position, but still, like, I agree with the referee’s call.
“It was a bit of a reckless hit, and it deserved probably a five[-minute penalty] when you look back at the replay, and they had to make that decision. It was a tough one, but certainly wasn’t intent to injure by the player, in my mind. And, you know, and that’s why I keep saying, and you’ve heard me before, I really, really encourage our players to be careful, with the speed of the game today, to make sure you don’t turn your back to the play as much because those kind of things happen. And you worry about the security of the players, you worry about the safety of the game, and I’m one of those guys that will look at both sides of it and not just preach for my side of it.”
Joe Corvo – already filling in for injured Dennis Seidenberg – not only saw the hit, but saw both sides.
“It’s nearly impossible when a guy comes, I noticed I think he came off the bench, and really didn’t break stride,” Corvo said. “It’s a tough play because it’s hard for that forward to stop when he’s coming that fast and Quaider [McQuaid] kind of turned a little bit. The guy could have let up a little bit but it just happens fast. I think that’s why he was so upset that he got thrown out. I don’t think he’s a dirty player, I think just with his speed it was hard for him to stop.”
|Infected cut forces Dennis Seidenberg out of Bruins’ lineup for first time this season||03.29.12 at 12:07 pm ET|
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was the only Bruin missing from morning skate Thursday, and he’ll miss his first game of the season when the B’s host the Capitals Thursday night at TD Garden.
Seidenberg will be kept out of the lineup with an infected cut. The blueliner suffered the cut on his left leg Saturday against the Kings, and after getting it stitched up played Sunday and Tuesday prior to it becoming infected.
“In LA, he suffered a cut on his leg, and they stitched it up and everything was good, but a little infection has gotten into it now, so he’s on antibiotics and just to play it safe, we’re going to keep him out,” coach Claude Julien explained. “It’s just day-to-day, it’s not long-term. It’s just to take care of that.”
Joe Corvo, who has been a healthy scratch for the last six games, will be inserted into the lineup in place of Seidenberg. With Seidenberg not playing for the first time this season, centers Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly will remain the only two Bruins to play in each contest.
Julien added that the team will “probably” go with the same forwards as they have the last two games, meaning Daniel Paille is likely to remain a healthy scratch.
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