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Peter Chiarelli: Defensemen like Dennis Seidenberg ‘are hard to find’ 10.03.13 at 10:18 pm ET
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Peter Chiarelli: Extending Dennis Seidenberg ‘pretty high’ priority for Bruins 10.02.13 at 2:38 pm ET
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Dennis Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg

With defenseman Dennis Seidenberg entering the last season of his contract, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday that getting a deal done to keep him in Boston is a high priority and that he’s been in contact with agent J.P. Barry.

“It’s pretty high,” Chiarelli said when asked how he’s prioritizing re-signing Seidenberg. “We’ve had discussions and we’ll figure something out there.”

The Bruins have often re-signed their players during the season (Rich Peverley, David Krejci, Shawn Thornton among others), and Chiarelli has often tried to get players’ new deals done before they even enter the final season of their contract, as he did three years ago when he inked Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron to new deals right before the start of the season.

Seidenberg, 32, is in the final year of a four-year, $13 million deal.

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘making it look easy’ 06.18.13 at 11:33 am ET
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Zdeno Chara and the Bruins defense smothered the Blackhawks in Monday's Game 3. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ win in Game 3, the value of team defense and Tuukka Rask’s technically sound play in goal.

Pederson said that the Bruins team defense has played consistently well throughout the playoffs and has been key in winning not only the physical battle but the mental battle.

“We have seen it whether it was Toronto, the Rangers, Chicago in here or Pittsburgh,” Pederson said. “It is the fact that they’re breaking the will of the opponent. It is so frustrating to go out there and every time you get the puck, [Zdeno] Chara is taking away your space, he is running you through the boards, you think you’ve got an open lane and you go to throw it across and all of a sudden [Dennis] Seidenberg is in there with his stick, with his feet. They just don’t give you an inch.

“After a while it is almost like when you have a horse and you saddle-break him. Once his shoulders roll on you, you know you have the horse’s spirit broken and you have a chance of breaking him and getting him saddle-broken. Here’s the situation to me where you can see it on the ice where guys are going, ‘OK, we are ready, Chicago. Here comes our energy.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, this just ain’t happening.’ They’re just frustrating them.”

That strong team defense is a testament to Claude Julien sticking with his defensive system and having his players buy into it. It is also the result of general manager Peter Chiarelli bringing in players that fit Julien’s system well and are willing to play hard on the defensive end every night.

Pederson said that one thing that makes Chiarelli successful is that he is willing to pay players for their contributions on the defensive end — not just the offensive end.

“What happens a lot of times is somebody says, ‘OK, we want to play a certain style and we want to reward these guys for being successful, but yet they’re playing team defense,’ ” Pederson said. “A lot of times throughout the season when things aren’t going well it’s like, ‘We just don’t have enough offense. We don’t have those stars like [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby who can generate a lot of goals.’ But champions, as we know, are known for both sides of the puck. Not only the offense, but it’s that great, smothering team defense and the structure and the layers they have defensively.

“It has been very important also for Peter Chiarelli to reward these players for not only their offense that they show us by being maybe a point-a-game guy, but they are capable on other teams of probably being 80- or 90-point seasons, but they’re not. They are giving it up for the team and they are doing it the right way.”

Tuukka Rask was the beneficiary of the strong team defense in the Bruins’ win in Game 3, as he was protected well in his 28-save shutout Monday. However, Pederson said he thinks Rask may not be getting the credit he deserves because he is making it look easier than it is.

“I think one of the things that we are getting ourselves maybe into a bad habit of, is because Tuukka is so sound technically and is so much in control of his emotions right now, he is making it look easy,” Pederson said. “It’s not as easy as it looks. He is just attacking the shooters correctly. When he goes down he is taking up space, his belly is not touching the ice, he is standing up straight with his chest, he is controlling his rebounds.

“A couple of times last night you could see the shifts were getting long and the Bruins needed a whistle. They are coming down the right side and they shoot the puck. He is able to control the rebound and throw it outside of the rink to get yourself a stop or a whistle. He has done a great job. He will be the first to tell you that his team in front of him is playing very well defensively, but I also think his teammates will tell you, ‘Hey, listen, he is playing so well right now and he is so locked in, he is making it look easier than it actually is.’ ”

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Claude Julien after Game 3 win: ‘The commitment is totally there’ at 3:43 am ET
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Claude Julien's Bruins are two wins away from a title. (AP)

No more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from these Bruins, at least not in the eyes of their coach.

After the Bruins dominated Game 3 in nearly every aspect, including a 40-16 edge on faceoffs, Claude Julien heaped praise on the effort level of his team after the 2-0 win that leaves them two victories shy of their second Stanley Cup in three years and seventh in franchise history.

“I think it’s the energy in the game, the effort,” Julien said. “You see our guys, like I said, they’re backchecking, having layers, so when somebody makes a mistake, you have somebody covering up.”

Even several stitches above the eye of Zdeno Chara wasn’t going to keep the commitment level down for the Bruins. Chara said he “lost an edge” during pregame skate Monday night.

“All he did is he slipped, had a little gash over his eye,” Julien said. “I haven’t even seen it. Just by slipping, he got hit just above the eye. Nothing serious.”

The Bruins blocked another 17 shots Monday — to seven for Chicago. Dennis Seidenberg had six by himself.

“We’re blocking a lot of shots,” Julien continued. “The commitment is totally there. Throughout a whole season, it’s not easy to have that full commitment. But I think when you get to this stage, players start feeling it. They go above and beyond. That’s what you’re seeing from our team right now.”

Julien famously lashed out at his team in the first-round series with Toronto, calling the B’s a “Jekyll and Hyde” team when they blew a 3-1 series lead only to grab a dramatic Game 7 win to extend their playoff season.

But that certainly hasn’t been the case since. After the Game 6 loss to the Leafs, the Bruins are 11-2 in these playoffs. And the penalty kill — another area of effort and execution — is a big reason why. With five more kills on Monday, the Bruins have killed off 27 straight penalties.

“It’s our backcheck,” Julien explained. “Our guys are understanding one thing: This is a team, when it attacks, it attacks with four, never three. They’ve got such great skaters back there on the fence that if we don’t do what we’re doing right now, we don’t stand a chance. Our guys, like I’ve said, they’ve committed to that. They realize how important it is to come back. We’re trying to support each other that way and trying to keep it as tight as possible.”

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Rough patch: Bruins overcome ‘pretty bad’ ice to beat Blackhawks in Game 3 at 1:34 am ET
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Tuukka Rask (left) and Dennis Seidenberg both said the TD Garden ice was rough on Monday for Game 3. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

As hard as the crew inside TD Garden tried Monday, the ice was hardly suitable for two of the best hockey teams in the world to do battle. But battle they did.

There were bouncing pucks all night. There were players like Brad Marchand losing control on what appeared to be a certain shorthanded breakaway. There were pucks jumping over defensemen’s sticks as they tried to keep the puck in the offensive zone.

In short, this is what happens when you play on a humid 80-degree day in mid-June in Boston. The Garden is typically an ice-box in the winter because there is no in-house dehumidifier in the building. As they did in 2011, TD Garden tried to fix the humidity issue by bringing in high-tech dehumidifiers beginning with the Penguins series. On Monday, they didn’t do much good as far as the ice was concerned.

Asked if he thought the conditions were “crappy,” Dennis Seidenberg tried to be as kind as possible but couldn’t help but state the obvious.

“It is pretty bad,” Seidenberg said. “When you try to shoot, try to swing your blade on the ice, it feels like it’s sandpaper. It’s really rough. When you try to pass, the puck bounces. That’s why you have to keep the game simple, like I said. If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one. If not, you rather choose to go over the wall and out.

“Again, there was breakdowns today, but we seemed to cover them up a little bit better than the other side.”

It’s similar to when infielders complain about the dirt at Fenway Park, a common occurrence in the 1960s and 70s and, to a lesser degree, today.

Then there’s the perspective of the goalie. Tuukka Rask has already had one episode on the sketchy ice of Madison Square Garden – leading to the “butt stumble” in Game 4 of the Eastern semis that the Rangers won in overtime. Monday, Rask avoided an embarrassing repeat, no thanks to the ice conditions.

“The ice was pretty good in the start of the periods,” Rask said. “Then pretty quickly it got really chippy. It’s tough to get the read off of shots when it’s really a mess out there with the ice. You just got to be extra careful with the crazy bounces and stuff. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes playing the puck either. You just got to be extra careful.”

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Bruins can only hope home ice is advantage it was in ’11 06.17.13 at 1:04 pm ET
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The Bruins outscored the Canucks 17-3 over three games in Boston two years ago. (AP)

Two years ago, home-ice advantage was the second-biggest factor in the Stanley Cup finals, just behind having a sane goaltender.

After the Canucks took the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals with wins that were decided in the final seconds, the Bruins came back to Boston and blew Vancouver out by a combined score of 12-1. They won all three home games that series by a combined score of 17-3 before finally winning a road game in Vancouver in Game 7. Dennis Seidenberg remembers the atmosphere of the Garden being “crazy” for those games.

It obviously won’t be that way this time around. For starters, the first two games were split, although they did come down to the wire, just like Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver. The idea of the Bruins torching the Blackhawks in blowout wins like they did the Canucks now that they’re at home? You shouldn’t bet on that either. The Blackhawks are far too defensively sound a team for that to happen, so the Bruins should expect these games to remain close. Maybe they won’t go into overtime every night, but this series has been something of a stalemate.

“Who knows?” Seidenberg said of games being closer in this series than the last time they were in the Cup finals. “It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen tonight, but we have to focus on our game. We have to come out a little better than we did and we’ll see what happens.”

The argument can be made that it took Aaron Rome‘s hit on Nathan Horton to fire up the Bruins with them trailing by two games, as Game 3 was scoreless in the first period. Then Horton went down, and after the Bruins lifelessly struggled to get anything going on their five-minute power play, they came out after the intermission and scored 11 seconds into the second period.

The B’s can only hope that they don’t need an injury to get them into this game, as they were fortunate to escape Saturday’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks with a victory given that they weren’t into it early on.

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Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara finish fifth in respective awards 06.15.13 at 7:54 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

CHICAGO — Everyone knew Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara weren’t going to win their positions’ awards this season when neither of them were announced as finalists after the regular season, but it was interesting to see where they finished.

Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was the winner of the Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman, getting 66 first-place votes (one more than runner-up Ryan Suter) from the Pro Hockey Writers Association and finishing with 1266 points to Suter’s 1230. Kris Letang (914) and Francois Beauchemin (290) also finished ahead of Chara, who was fifth with 289 points. Chara, who won the Norris in 2009, received 10 first-place votes. Also represented in Norris voting was Dennis Seidenberg, who was 21st in voting with four points (one fourth-place vote and a fifth-place vote).

Rask, meanwhile, was a rather surprising fifth-place finisher for the Vezina Trophy, which is voted on by general managers and given to the league’s top goalie. Rask received no first-place votes, getting three second place votes and three third-place votes. Blue Jackets’ net minder Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina with 110 points. Hernik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Craig Anderson also finished ahead for Rask.

Alexander Ovechkin took home the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player. Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to receive a vote, as he got a fourth-place vote and finished 17th in voting. Bergeron was named the winner of the King Clancy Trophy as the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”

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