|Frustrated Claude Julien points to Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles, Bruins’ offensive inconsistency||12.21.14 at 12:28 pm ET|
After Sunday’s morning skate, the Bruins coach held his most telling press conference of the year as he discussed some of the issues that have the Bruins on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture ienooking in.
Julien, who later clarified that he does not intend to throw players under the bus, was most critical of Dennis Seidenberg, whom he said has not been as effective as in years past as he returns from a torn ACL suffered last season. He also lamented the inconsistency of Patrice Bergeron‘s line and noted Milan Lucic‘s struggles when he was without David Krejci.
Here are some highlights of the press conference:
On Seidenberg (the question was about why Matt Bartkowski and Seidenberg have struggled when paired together):
When we look at Seids, he’s come off a major injury. I don’t think anybody here thinks Seids is playing at his full potential right now. No matter where he’s been, he’s had his share of struggles. I don’t think it has anything to do with right or left. You can look at Seids; with whomever he’s played, they’ve had their fair share of struggles. He’s got to find his game. Once he finds his game, he’ll be a lot better.
When you look at the game and you see what’s going on and you look at it again, sometimes you realize that maybe you’re pointing the finger at the wrong person. We have to look at it objectively; that’s our job.
And that job is not for me to come out and publicly throw my players under the bus, but I see certain things and that’s what I’m trying to tell you guys. I’m not here to explain my every move, but we see certain things that we have to make decisions on.
Again, I’m not one of those guys that’s going to start carving my players because if I have something to say to them, it will be behind closed doors.
On the team’s lack of scoring:
Do you guys watch the games? K. So I’m going to say Bergeron’s line last game did not have a good game. They didn’t have many scoring chances. They weren’t that good. They were good the game before. There’s some games they play well and they score some games, and the problem with our team has been inconsistency in our games.
If you guys watch the games, you’ll see those kind of things that certain lines, even though you say, ‘Well Bergeron and Smith and Marchand are great players,’ that doesn’t mean their line is really firing on all cylinders every game. Once we get all our lines more consistent in that area, we won’t be just saying that the goal-scoring’s coming from the Soderberg line. So we need a little bit more, and at the same time, Krejci’s just gotten back. We hope that sooner than later, we’re going to get a little more depth in our scoring.
On Bergeron’s line:
I said one game they’re good, the next they’re not as good. Does that mean you break them up because they’re not good one game and the next game they’re good? Again, who do you put where? It’s easy to skew. We’ve seen Lucic play well with Krejci. Lucic struggles a little bit more with others. Again, when I say second-guessing, [I mean] you guys can wrack your brain all you want; that’s what I do from midnight to six in the morning. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what to do the next day.
On why he generally hasn’t tried anybody but Seth Griffith as David Krejci‘s right wing this season:
Yeah, because Krech has hardly ever played. When we don’t win, we get second-guessed. I understand that. But right now, the Soderberg line is the only one that’s scoring for us. So do you guys want me to break that up and we get no more scoring? So you pick your poison. As much as we’d like to do that and we want to do that, and we did the last game a few times, it’s hard to really see when it’s only in spurts. But at the same time, I’m trying to win a hockey game here, so that’s the bottom line.
|NHL handles Jonathan Toews injury scare the right way, Blackhawks don’t||12.12.14 at 5:23 pm ET|
The NHL does not want Jonathan Toews to get hurt. Neither does Dennis Seidenberg. Yet while the league was smart in reacting to Thursday night’s scary play, the Blackhawks themselves were not.
The Department of Player Safety chose the perhaps not-so-popular, but rational option in assessing Boston’s defenseman no supplemental discipline for a play that resulted in Chicago’s captain going face-first into the end boards at TD Garden.
The play was not a “hit,” nor was it dirty. Seidenberg was battling for position chasing a loose puck and tried to put his left arm under and in front of Toews’ right arm to gain leverage. He outmuscled Toews, but rather than Toews being knocked off the puck, his feet as he tried to turn away took him into the boards.
It was fast, it was scary and it’s the last thing either team wanted to see. It wasn’t dirty. If the result of the play was anything but Toews hitting the boards, the takeaway by any and every observer would be surprise at how easily Toews was knocked off the puck.
It’s understandable why anyone outside of Boston might be upset with the play. The league doesn’t want its stars getting hurt and it also doesn’t want to admit ‘ as it effectively did by not punishing Seidenberg ‘ that bad things such as head injuries are going to happen even when guys play within the rules.
Still, by not punishing Seidenberg they avoided an equally big mess of an issue, as suspending Seidenberg would have sent the message that you’re not allowed to be stronger than the guy you’re battling.
Claude Julien, who blamed the play on Toews after the game, said Friday that he was relieved that the league let Seidenberg off.
“I looked at it again. You look at those things and you look at it quick,” Julien said. “I say the same thing: I’m not necessarily saying that’s the situation, but sometimes we’ve got to protect ourselves as players. Dennis is a strong individual, and he went in there to close the gap quickly away from the boards.”
Asked whether he would have called the play a “hit,” Julien said he wasn’t sure that Seidenberg deserved a boarding penalty.
“It’s debatable. It’s debatable,” Julien said. “It depends on who you talk to and how you look at it. I looked at it again, and I’m saying the same thing. It’s debatable whether it’s a penalty or not. He did go in head-first and it looks like he was going the other way and Dennis did what he had to do [on the penalty kill], was get on him aggressively and try and close the gap.”
The issue actually shouldn’t be with Seidenberg, Toews or Julien. It should be with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and anyone else who decided to keep Toews on the ice.
Somehow, that’s where Toews was for Chicago’s five-on-three after the play. He took a penalty during that five-on-three and then had another three-second shift before leaving the game for good.
Quenneville said after the game that Toews “seemed all right.” Still, two more shifts before hitting the showers is absurd for a guy with a history of concussions. Players are supposed to go to the quiet room and go through the proper protocol after concussion scares, and Thursday night’s play was undoubtedly a concussion scare.
The play itself was unfortunate, but at the very least, the Department of Player Safety did the right thing. That’s more than the Blackhawks can say for themselves.
|Dennis Seidenberg avoids discipline for Jonathan Toews play||at 12:54 pm ET|
“It’s definitely good news and definitely a relief not to get suspended or fined or any of that stuff,” Seidenberg said after Friday’s practice.
Toews was chasing a puck into the corner after missing an open net during a second-period power play when, in an attempt to battle for position, Seidenberg knocked the Blackhawks star off the puck, sending him face-first into the boards.
Seidenberg, who was assessed a boarding minor for the play, maintained Friday that he was simply trying to outmuscle the player.
“I still believe that I went for his shoulder to the side and he kind of spun off, but then again, you look at the replays and he goes into the boards really awkwardly and dangerously,” Seidenberg said. “It looks dangerous, and again, I don’t want to hurt a guy on the ice. I play the battles and try to play them hard.”
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Dennis Seidenberg knew his hit on Jonathan Toews looked bad the moment it happened in the second period, as the Bruins were trying to kill off the final minute of consecutive penalties that put the Bruins in penalty kill mode.
But the strong, hulking defenseman made a point after the game that he meant no harm and certainly didn’t intend to put Toews out of of commission for the rest of the game. For the record, 49 seconds after getting hit by Seidenberg, Toews was actually on the ice, getting called for hooking Chris Kelly.
But after serving his hooking penalty, Toews went to the Chicago dressing room and did not return.
After the game, Seidenberg insisted he meant no harm toward Chicago’s star center.
“I pride myself on being a clean player and a hard player to play against, so when I went in on that one-on-one battle there, I thought I saw his right shoulder and at the last second he might have turned, I don’t know,” Seidenberg said. “I didn’t really see the replay or anything and obviously I never want to see a guy go into the boards like that.
“I would never want to hurt a guy,” he added. “That’s the last thing on my mind. I like playing hard and winning my board battles and that’s about it.”
|Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury||12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.
“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”
Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.
“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”
Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.
As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.
“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’s important to take care of ourselves.
“So, I view that five-on-three we’re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’ve got to be careful, but I’m sure he knew that he was coming.”
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|Bruins try to make do without ‘irreplaceable’ Zdeno Chara for a while||10.24.14 at 12:32 am ET|
If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.
The Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL last season. They lost Chris Kelly to a broken leg last December and a back injury just before the playoffs. The 2013 team made the Stanley Cup finals despite the loss of Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Just last week, Kevan Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight in Buffalo and has been lost indefinitely.
But when Islanders forward John Tavares’ right knee collided with Chara’s left knee Thursday night in the B’s 3-2 loss, there was the sense that Boston’s captain could be out a while early on in a season when the Bruins are struggling to find their identity.
That sense was apparent when talking to Bruins players in the dressing room afterward.
“He’s an irreplaceable player, so obviously him not being out there, everyone notices, us and them,” Kelly said.
But Kelly insisted that Boston’s flat second period Thursday had nothing to do with Boston getting outscored 2-0 and looking listless on the ice.
“I don’t think so. They were ready right from the opening faceoff and we weren’t,” Kelly said. “Like I said, he’s an irreplaceable player. He plays every situation for us and he’s our leader. We’re going to need to fill that void collectively as a group not just one guy is going to be able to do that.
“I though we played desperate, but they were up 3-1. They may have set back a little bit and we pushed the pace. Yeah, the third period was better but like I said, 20 minutes isn’t good enough to win hockey games.”
|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
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