WASHINGTON, D.C. The Stanley Cup playoffs are simply Dennis Seidenbergs time of year.
He was one of the key figures during last years Stanley Cup championship after he was paired with Zdeno Chara in the opening series of the playoffs against Montreal, and many spoke of Seidenberg as a dark horse candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy because of it.
Well, he's is at it again.
The 30-year-old German defenseman is averaging 27 plus minutes of ice time per game, and they have been heavy, hard minutes. He is usually tangling with Russian wrecking ball Alex Ovechkin and whichever gritty forwards Dale Hunter tosses out there with him. But in the ultimate sign of courage, Seidenberg keeps going at Ovechkin even if he knows it takes an act of the hockey gods to knock him off his skates.
"Its a tough battle. Ovechkin is a very thick guy, but its fun," Seidenberg said. "Its playoff hockey and everything comes at you a little harder. Thats what its all about. Maybe its that you play a little more reckless. Maybe during the regular season I wouldnt try to hit as hard. I know that I just enjoy playing in the postseason and that makes me play that way.
Ovechkin is very strong on his skates, but Im going to keep trying to knock him off his skates maybe one of these times.
Its similar to when Seidenberg faced Milan Lucic and the Bruins when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. The then-Carolina defenseman knew hed be on the losing end of things physically when he retrieved the puck, but that never stopped him from doing his job.
I dont think anybody likes playing against Looch. I experienced it in the playoffs a few years back, said Seidenberg. I knew I was going to get hammered by Lucic retrieving pucks, but I still did anyway. Some guys dont enjoy going back in there or going in as hard, and that gives Lucic a chance to get in there first to retrieve a puck.
Thats the kind of grit-your-teeth tough-guy courage that a player needs to be an effective defensemen in the playoffs, and Seidenberg has been far and above that.
The Bs defensemen even kicked in a little offense in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals when he carried the puck low into the offensive zone before finally getting it to Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara for the game-winning blast.
Hes a guy thats always been good in the playoffs, even before he came to us. Hes a big game player and he continues to show that, said Claude Julien. Zdeno is as good as youll get for a defenseman, and but when it comes to the playoffs Seidenberg isnt that far behind him . . . if at all.
Hes been a really good player for us and a force. Hes loving these kinds of challenges and he thrives on it to succeed. Thats the thing with Dennis Seidenberg: his whole game just comes around. Hes one of those guys that can just elevate his game. Some players can do that, and some players cant.
Seidenberg and Chara were on the ice late in the third period of Game 3 when both defensemen paid too much attention to Alex Ovechkin and forgot about Brooks Laich on the other side of the ice. Other than that, though, they've allowed just one goal in three playoff games.
The Bruins continue to need that kind of lockdown playoff defense if theyre hoping to wrest ultimate control of their first round playoff series.