CHICAGO -- It was bound to happen sooner or later. Given the issues that the Bruins were experiencing against the speedy Blackhawks, and Claude Julien finally opted to break up Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg to start the third period of Game 5 at the United Center.
The Bruins were already down 2-0 headed into the final 20 minutes, and Seidenberg and Chara had been on ice for both of Patrick Kane’s goals in the first two periods.
Chara has been on ice for eight of the last nine goals allowed by the Bruins, and was pretty snippy about it when asked after the game.
“It’s not normal,” interjected Chara, when a reporter was in the middle of asking about it being normal for the 6-foot-9 defenseman to be on the ice for so many goals against.
The Bruins defenseman went on to say that he wasn’t going to answer any questions about his individual play after being less than his best in the last two playoff games.
While much of the attention for defense gone wrong is going to Chara, much of the culpability sits with Seidenberg. Chara's defensive partner had a rough Game 4 where he finished a minus-2, and the speed of Kane and Jonathan Toews seemed to constantly catch him out of position.
The same happened in Game 5 as Seidenberg was caught up ice on Chicago’s first goal, and was scrambling and out of position when he blocked a Johnny Oduya blast with his stick. The shot shattered Seidenberg’s stick and bounced to Kane, who fired home to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
Chicago was again on the attack against Seidenberg in the second period with Bryan Bickell beating the German defenseman wide to the left with speed. Bickell wrapped behind the net as Seidenberg passed the defensive coverage off to Chara, but Kane jumped into the seam in front of the net and popped a shot past Tuukka Rask to give Chicago a two goal lead.
It's been pretty apparent that Seidenberg has struggled with speedy attackers since suffering the knee injury that kept him out of the second round series against the New York Rangers, and that trend is continuing against Chicago.
Julien made the only move he could, and put regular-season defensemen partners Johnny Boychuk and Chara back together for the third period. The Bruins coach avoided talking about the subject following the Game 5 loss, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chara and Seidenberg split up to start Game 6.
“[There was] no reason,” said Julien. “We split them every once in a while. There was no real specific reason. Johnny was playing well, and every once in a while, depending on who is on the other team's line and with [Jonathan] Toews not out and stuff like that, they had some different looks at times. We just put the pairs together, pairs that have played together before.”
Chara scored on a sizzling slap shot in the third period that gave Boston a little bit of life, but he was also on ice for Dave Bolland’s empty-net goal in the third period. The empty-netter left Chara with a minus-2 in Game 5, and a minus-5 over the last two games.