Bruins eager for regular season

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Bruins eager for regular season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
The Bruins have reached a point in the preseason where some veterans are ready to go, and the regular season cant come quickly enough.

Obviously there are others getting their timing perfected or shaking off the rust from a wildly abbreviated summer, and there is still one dress rehearsal against the New York Islanders on Saturday to get things synchronized. Its kind of an in-between mode that has players traveling at different speeds with a week to all collectively get in the same gear.

For some players like Tim Thomas and Nathan Horton that have been brought along deliberately in training camp, the extra few days are a boon for their readiness. Brad Marchand estimated that Thursday nights preseason game against the Senators was probably running at 95 percent speed when compared to the regular season, and thinks hes ready to go as well.

The last few games Ive felt like Im catching back up to speed and my mind is reacting quickly enough again, said Marchand. I feel pretty good. The last game is really when it started to feel better, and I got my legs under way. Each game was a little bit better, and one more will be good for a lot of these guys.

But a well-trained hockey machine like Patrice Bergeron in the prime of his career needed exactly three games in the exhibition season, and told his coach that hes as ready to go as hell ever be. Its almost like clockwork for the two-way center.

Weve only played five preseason games and well finish with our sixth one. Some teams play a lot more than six games during the preseason, so I think our guys have been happy to get a few games under their best, said Julien. Ive talked to a few guys from last year that are saying theyre feeling pretty good.

Bergie has played three games and he feels like hes ready to go. Other guys as well. So theres an element where I think guys are feeling ready to go and theyre excited about getting the season going. But I dont feel like theyre antsy to start tomorrow. They know theres another game to play and team-building to go.
Ah, yes, the team-building.

Perhaps any readiness to start the season is tempered by some Bruins readying themselves for the natural order of things in training camp.

Over the last few seasons the expected group of Bs players set for the NHL roster escape Boston for several days of a camp retreat. The teams players and coaches take off just prior to the season for a sequence of events that promote team-building and camaraderie between players.

Even in the hustle and bustle of last seasons trip to Europe, the team found time to steal away to Vermont for a couple of days. Thats on tap for the two days following their preseason finale against the Islanders on Saturday, and Julien and his coaching staff have kept the camps location a secret from the players for the last month.

The coaches know the location and the players dont. We have it organized. They dont know where were going and they dont know what were doing, so were keeping the element of surprise, said Julien. Its going to be a surprise, itll be fun and itll be good. So we left it that way and thought it was the best way to approach it.

So it will a quick next few days of games and ropes courses designed to bring the Bs together. One thing is known and certain: theyll all be on the ice Oct. 6 on the Garden ice to watch the new Stanley Cup championship banner raised in the rafters before getting the season started.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

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.