BOSTON – There weren’t any spectacular offensive plays or game-altering moments for Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg in his return to the Boston lineup, but that would be missing the point with the German blueliner.
Seidenberg made his first appearance in the second round series against the New York Rangers after injuring himself in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and paired back up with Zdeno Chara as a top shutdown pairing in Boston’s 3-1 victory over the Blueshirts in clinching Game 5 at TD Garden. He finished with 23:37 of ice time on 29 shifts, and was a plus-1 while tossing out three hits and firing a couple of pucks on the net.
“We made sure that when he came back he was ready to come back. It was a close call, to be honest with you, in Game Four; it really was a close call,” said Claude Julien. “We almost had him back, and we chose to wait one more game. But he was ready to go.
“What he does is he just adds some stability to our back line. Every year in the playoffs he’s been one of our best defensemen; he really rises to those occasions. We were happy to have him in this game tonight because we knew how tough it was going to be.”
Best of all was Seidenberg’s willingness to jump right into the middle of physical play against the New York Rangers, and show no hesitation while racing up and down the ice at top skating speed to keep pace with opposing players. There was less and less hesitation in Seidenberg’s skating strides with each day he took the practice ice, and then one when he finally played in Game 5.
He lined up Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin for jarring hits at the offensive blue line, and maybe even took some of the worst after both big time playoff collisions. Best of all Seidenberg and Chara weren’t on the ice for any goals against as is customary when they begin working together as a defensemen pairing.
“I felt good. It was nice to be playing again and trying to help the team. It was a good feeling,” said Seidenberg. “It’s not always easy to come back, especially in the playoffs. To match the intensity and fit right in, especially when the team has played so well. For the most part, I think it was okay.
“I felt comfortable moving the puck. My gaps, my timing was fine, I think. I just can only get better now.”
Now Seidenberg will get additional time to heal whatever lower body injury has been dogging him for the last two weeks, and can rest until the Eastern Conference finalists learn when the series will begin between Boston and Pittsburgh.