Bruins are ready to start 'second half'

Bruins are ready to start 'second half'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comRALEIGH, N.C. The Bruins were all present and accounted for at the RBC Center two days after the NHL All-Star game blew out of town after a highly successful weekend even Tyler Seguin after he was on a 6:45 am flight to Boston Sunday morning for Monday practice and a flight right back to North Carolina.With 32 games remaining and holding firmly at first place in the Northeast Division, the Bruins are in a good spot for their playoff push with the intensity about to kick up a notch around the NHL.Were all striving for consistency, but at the same time were also in third place and weve been consistent than a lot of other teams are, said Julien. Im not that saying that its not something were driving for because we want to be more successful, but this second half is more about being ready to play every night.There are teams that are pushing to get into the playoffs, and battling to get into playoff position. Were no different. To get where we want to be, were going to have to start pushing as well.It appeared that the lines were exactly as they were prior to the All-Star break, and once again Mark Stuart will be the healthy scratch for a Bruins team that found a cohesive six-man defensemen unit while he was out with a broken right hand. If Stuart sits and he was the last player off the RBC Center ice for morning skate its the fourth straight game hes a healthy scratch for the Bruins. Hockey sources indicated to CSNNE.com over the weekend that Stuart is being sought after on the trade front, and it could be only a matter of time before hes dealt in a pure salary cap clearing move in anticipation of another deal on the way.Bs coach Claude Julien said it was all about the six defensemen playing at a high level currently, and that includes Adam McQuaid supplanting Stuart as a tough, physical presence around the Boston net in a bottom D pairing.I dont think its a reflection of his play any more than its what the other six guys have given us, said Julien. Anybody thats watched us knows that the tandem has played well and been pretty steady. For the most part the pairs have been reliable, and for the most part its a numbers game and hes been a victim of that.When youre in a numbers game you just bite the bullet a little bit and eventually things will work out. I know its not easy for him. To his credit hes always been a team first guy, and as much as he wants to be in there and wants to play, he also doesnt want to disrupt whats going in the room. Hes not thinking about No. 1. Hes thinking about team and whats best for it, and thats a credit to him. Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice, and it appears hell be right back into the starting shoot against the Hurricanes after playing both ends of the home-and-home against Carolina prior to the All-Star break.Mark celebrated his 43rd birthday on Tuesday prior to tonights game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and celebrated by dining with teammates on Monday night including Tyler Seguin, who turned 19 on Sunday.Rex marveled at the fact he can still play the game he loves and the highest level as he turns 43, and was more than happy to celebrate it with the youngest guy on the team.
Its amazing to still be playing. I never ever imagined would last this long, said Recchi. And I love to help young guys. I had some great guys help me when I was youngster.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.