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That’s what Christmas means to Zee: A look at European Bruins’ traditions 12.24.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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The Bruins gave fans an early Christmas with a statement-making win on Thursday, but when it comes to the Black and Gold, there’s plenty about Christmas that the average Bostonian doesn’t know. David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and Dennis Seidenberg spoke to WEEI.com about what Christmas is like in their native countries.

Here’s a look at each player’s customs and holiday memories:

DAVID KREJCI: STERNBERK, CZECH REPUBLIC

Jezisek brought David Krejci and Zdeno Chara toys as they were growing up in Czechoslovakia. (AP)

Santa who? Jezisek (pronounced “eshishik”) is the man, er, boy for the job back home for Krejci. Czech for “Child Jesus,” Jezisek is a child who delivers gifts to families, much like St. Nick would in these parts.

As is the case in Europe, Krejci’s family is all done with sharing gifts by the time the 25th rolls around.

“We have dinner on the 24th, and right after, we open gifts, so Christmas is the 24th,” Krejci said.

Given his years in juniors and now in the NHL, Krejci, like his European teammates doesn’t get to celebrate Christmas back home.

“It’s been a long time since the last time I was back home for Christmas,” Krejci said. “I guess I’m used to it. It still sucks that you’re not with your family, but I’m getting older and it’s been a long time, so I guess I’m getting used to it now.”

Teammate Tyler Seguin, like many North American kids in the ’90′s, remembers asking for Power Rangers toys and all things Barney. Over in Sternberk, then a part of Czechoslovakia, Krejci couldn’t think of anything but his future career.

“When I was growing up I always wanted skates, hockey sticks, and all the cool stuff that was really expensive that I couldn’t afford,” Krejci said. “So I asked my parents. I never got it, but I was excited for it anyways.”

TUUKKA RASK: SAVONLINNA, FINLAND

What do Rask and Santa Claus share in common? Nothing, besides the fact that they hail from the same land.

“Santa Claus is Finnish,” the 23-year-old goaltender told a now-enlightened WEEI.com. It’s a fact that can be confirmed here.

Aside from that interesting tidbit and opening presents on the 24th (“That’s the only thing I’ve known, ever since growing up”), Rask doesn’t think his time on Christmas as a child is too dissimilar from that of an American.

“The food is different,” Rask, who remembers meals of ham, salmon, and bread, said. “I think every family has their different traditions, but to stay at home and be with the family, that’s the same everywhere.”

DENNIS SEIDENBERG: VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, WEST GERMANY

The biggest difference that Seidenberg notices between the States and West Germany around the holidays is level to which it’s taken.

“It feels like there’s a lot more toys under the Christmas tree here,” said a smiling Seidenberg. “It’s just a lot more done-up, it seems, than in Europe.”

A traditional Christmas meal is also different from in the USA, and from the countries of his European teammates.

“We eat a lot of duck with cabbage, mashed potatoes, and stuff like that,” Seidenberg said.

The Bruins will practice on Sunday, which probably wouldn’t take place over in West Germany. After eating and opening presents on the 24th, they get the 25th and 26th off as Christmas holidays.

ZDENO CHARA: TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

While Krejci had Jezisek and Rask had Santa Claus, the Bruins’ captain grew up with both.

“One thing we have is Santa — that’s ‘Mikalas’ — and then whoever brings the presents is Jezisek,” Chara said.

Chara shares Rask’s logic that despite the differences between the countries, there’s no cultural differences (hey, remember those? Those were funny!) when it comes to the most important part of the holidays: family.

“It’s pretty much the same as over here,” Chara said. “We all get together, the families gather together and want to spend it together. We have a nice dinner, and in Europe we open the presents on the 24th at night.

“As far as everything else, it’s almost the same. We have different food traditions for dinners. You guys have different over here, but I think the atmosphere around Christmas is pretty much the same.”

Happy holidays from the Big Bad Blog and WEEI.com.

Read More: Christmas, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask
Dennis Seidenberg on Marco Sturm: ‘He agreed to waive’ no-trade 12.02.10 at 11:38 pm ET
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Life in the NHL – or any sport for that matter – can be unsettling. Just ask Marco Sturm, or his Bruins teammate and fellow German countryman Dennis Seidenberg.

Just hours after multiple media reports had Bruins forward Marco Sturm waiving his no-trade clause and being traded to the Los Angeles Kings, the Bruins made a formal effort to put the brakes on the story. Immediately following Thursday’s win over Tampa, the team – through GM Peter Chiarelli – released a statement on the report that they had traded Sturm to the Los Angeles Kings.

“I am aware of the various media reports today regarding Marco Sturm,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “I can confirm that I spoke to Marco about waiving his no trade clause and have had discussions regarding Marco with other teams. I can also confirm that there is no trade in place with Marco. At this time, Marco is a member of the Boston Bruins and will continue to train with our team.”

Seidenberg said he spoke with Sturm earlier in the day and said Sturm confirmed to him that he had waived the no-trade. Now, Seidenberg and the rest of the team await the next move as Sturm’s future with the team appears in limbo.

“It is very tough, everybody loves Marco here,” Seidenberg said following the 8-1 thrashing of the Lightning. “He’s been a big part of our organization and he’s a great guy and I think any time you see a guy leave, especially in an awkward situation right now, it’s just tough.”

Seidenberg said he spoke to Sturm before Thursday’s game and he was under the impression that Sturm had already accepted the deal to L.A.

“He told me he agreed to waive it,” Seidenberg said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I haven’t talked to him since.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg, Los Angeles Kings, Marco Sturm
Bruins lead Lightning, 2-0, after one at 7:46 pm ET
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It may be Marc Savard‘s season debut, but after a period, the Bruins have another center and a wacky play to thank for their 2-0 lead over the Lightning.

David Krejci took a pass from Milan Lucic at the blue line, flew past a defender and fired a wrist shot past Lightning goaltender Mike Smith at 10:52. It was his third goal of the season and first since Oct. 30. Dennis Seidenberg puked up first goal tally of the season thanks to a lazy shot gone awry from center ice. Smith misplayed the puck to allow the odd goal with 20 seconds left in the period.

Tim Thomas kept up the impressive play that shut out the Flyers a night earlier, as he stopped all 15 of the Lightning’s shots in the first period. He did allow Tampa Bay an opportunity on a big rebound when he was out of position, but Steven Stamkos‘ line was unable to capitalize on it.

Savard got a standing ovation when he took his first shift of the night, and was once again recognized on the jumbotron during a timeout.

Both teams are 0-for-1 on the power play. The Lightning are outshooting the B’s, 15-9.

Read More: David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Marc Savard,
Tim Thomas: ‘It’s time to start righting the ship’ 11.15.10 at 11:40 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was happy to admit that his fourth shutout of the season was a collective effort. Thanks to the blocked shots of Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara effectively rubbing out Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Thomas faced just 28 shots and stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the Devils Monday night at TD Garden.

But that wasn’t the biggest story. The Bruins managed to put three pucks behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, one more than they scored during an unlikely three-game home ice losing skid.

“There was definitely a little urgency but it was a controlled urgency,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a panicked urgency. It was more like, ‘Hey, it’s time to start righting the ship and tonight’s a good place to start.’”

The Bruins were just 2-4-1 on home ice this season.

“I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did too,” Thomas said. “We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency. We faced a team that’s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success.”

Thomas did face pressure at times, like late in the second period when the Devils fired the last six shots of the period.

“Yeah, that and the first couple minutes of the game there,” Thomas said. “Elias was very, very patient. You know, there was some times where we really controlled the play for long periods of time and there were other times where they made a push and I just had to be on my toes and the team had to be on their toes for the rebounds.”

The way it played out, Thomas weathered the storm at the start, and had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the way.

“I don’t know, well, you could look at it either way. Yeah, it could be tough, or looking back, it actually could help get me into the game,” Thomas said. “And it happened so quick that I didn’t have time to think about it. I didn’t have time to think, “Is this really happening in the first minute of the game?” It was just like, “I got to find some way to stop this thing.”

“It’s a similar feeling to how I felt against Washington, probably early this year was the closest that I kind of felt like that. I just felt like they weren’t going to find a way to score.”

As the minutes wound down, he could sense he was closing in on his 21st career shutout, just 91 shy of his counterpart Monday night.

“The last several minutes you start to put some emphasis because you don’t want to work that hard and not get it,” Thomas said. “I used to not care about shutouts and I still don’t for the most part, but that was 21 and 25 is a milestone that few people reach in the NHL.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Dennis Seidenberg confident in Bruins defense without Johnny Boychuk 10.25.10 at 5:22 pm ET
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Dennis Seidenberg has faith that Bruins defense will collectively pick up some extra slack with Johnny Boychuk out (AP Photo).

Dennis Seidenberg has faith that the Bruins defense will collectively pick up some extra slack with Johnny Boychuk out four weeks with a fractured forearm (AP Photo).

WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ blue line was all the rage on Monday. Johnny Boychuk talked about the fractured forearm that will require a cast and keep him out four weeks, while Adam McQuaid spoke of his readiness to seize the opportunity that’s been put in front of him. With Boychuk out, McQuaid in and the Bruins’ defensive pairings shaken up, one veteran is confident that the team will get along just fine.

“He played on the top pair with [Zdeno Chara], so it’s going to be tough to replace a guy like Johnny, but I think McQuaid is going to do a good job,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “… I think we’re deep enough to replace a loss like Johnny, but I think we’ve just got to play our system and support each other well, and we’ll be fine.”

McQuaid said on Monday that he was going to do his best to fill the “big shoes” of Boychuk, but replacing a top-two defenseman is more than a one-man job. Each defenseman will have to make slightly bigger contributions, whether they be in the form of minutes or otherwise. Boychuk had averaged 20:23 of ice time through the Bruins’ first six games.

Seidenberg was correct in noting that while he expects his fellow blueliners to pick up some extra slack with Boychuk out, how much more each man can give depends on the player.

“Johnny was logging a lot of minutes, so everybody has to pick up a little bit,” Seidenberg said. “I don’t know if Z can pick up any more minutes than he played last game [31:48], but I think the other guys can definitely chip in a little bit more and help.”

Seidenberg remains on a pairing with Mark Stuart, though on Monday Andrew Ference made the jump to the top pairing with Chara, leaving McQuaid with Matt Hunwick on the third pairing. The team may continue to tinker with who plays with whom, and Seidenberg is open to anything.

“Playing with Z is always good. It makes stuff a lot easier, like I’ve said a lot of times before,” Seidenberg said. “But again, I think everybody’s going to play with everybody, and you just have to communicate out there.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk,
Matt Hunwick hopes to build on a solid Sunday 10.15.10 at 4:02 pm ET
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hunwic

AP Photo

WILMINGTON — The differences between the Bruins’ first two games were telling enough without having to dive into the box score. The shots on Sunday were there as they had been the night before (37 after a 42 shot effort in Saturday’s 5-2 loss), but the team was more consistent offensively in addition to recovering from a very sloppy defensive night. The turnovers that doomed the team in the season-opener disappeared on Sunday while poor individual performances were made a thing of the past by stronger efforts.

One of the players who experienced a night-and-day weekend was defenseman Matt Hunwick. After posting a team-worst minus-3 plus/minus on Sunday and having his pairing with Dennis Seidenberg separated mid-game, Hunwick was one of the better ice in the team’s second game. Hunwick had three shots on goal and tied for a team-high plus-two.

Yet while many of the players who saw improved performances from one day to the next in Prague, it was Hunwick’s effort that could end up meaning more to the Bruins as the season goes on. To the casual observer, you couldn’t notice him in his own end — a good sign — while he also showed strong signs of being the puck-moving defenseman the team lost in the Dennis Wideman trade.

“I think it’s funny. You look at the stat sheet after, and you don’t really think you did too much different from game to game, but sometimes you get the bounces and you get the pucks, and the assists. Sometimes you don’t,” Hunwick told WEEI.com recently. “That’s kind of how the game works, but collectively we obviously played a lot better in the third period on Saturday and carried that right into Sunday and played three good periods. That’s the idea of where we want to be.”

Hunwick displayed impressive vision on the ice and was one of the players who stood out on the power play. While he figures to continue to see time on the man advantage, the hope with the 26-year-old is that his contributions aren’t limited to how he can help the team offensively.

“First of all, I have to be good in my own end, that’s where it starts,” Hunwick said when asked about what he expects from himself in his fourth season. “Especially for a team like this. I think my role is expanding a little bit.

“I’ve been playing on the power play, and I feel like I have to be a facilitator on that unit and also learn to shoot the puck and create opportunities for the other guys that are out there. That’s a lot bigger role than I had last year. I think I started doing that in the playoffs, and now this year that will hopefully be a role that I have all season long.”

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Hunwick,
Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg return to Bruins practice 10.14.10 at 10:54 am ET
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WILMINGTON — A day after both players left the ice early, defensemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg returned to Bruins practice on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

Ference had recently received a cortisone shot in his thumb and was advised by doctors not to shoot pucks. As a result, he skated prior to practice on Wednesday but left the ice before the skate began. Seidenberg, meanwhile, left Wednesday’s practice after half an hour with what coach Claude Julien said was either a touch of the flu or food poisoning.

The Bruins, 1-1 on the season, will play their third game on Saturday when they travel to New Jersey to square off with the Devils.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg,
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