By Joe Haggerty
PHILADELPHIA Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said before Game One that he found it annoying to watch -- and difficult to handle -- when he sat out the entire series against the Philadelphia Flyers during last years playoffs due to injury.
The Bs defenseman missed the entire postseason after suffering a severe cut to his forearm from the sharp edge a skate blade near the end of the regular season, and qualifies as one of a number of different Bruins skaters that could have been difference-makers during the Philly collapse.
Since Seidenberg was paired with Zdeno Chara prior to Game Three against the Montreal Canadiens, the German blueliner has been a big time difference-maker for the Black and Gold. Seidenberg has a goal and 4 assists along with a plus-6 in six playoff games since the move to Bostons top pairing, and its really allowed the blueliner to take some offensive chances with pinching and working pucks deep into the offensive zone.
There were times this season where it appeared that Seidenbergs offensive value was being lost amid his defensive responsibilities, but hes really found his game at the exact right time the same kind of pattern that Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli noticed when the Bruins played Seidenbergs Carolina Hurricanes two years ago.
Seidenberg was really again solid for us tonight. I liked his game. He was solid, he was physical, he was strong, and give him credit, said Julien. He set some of the goals that we scored early in the game.
He was pinching, and he did a great job of pinching, carrying the puck behind the net, and made a great play from there on in. But hes been a pretty good player for us all year. Theres no doubt we missed him through the playoffs all last year. But hes showing his worth right now, and were happy to have him.
With Zdeno Chara finally looking like himself again after the dehydration episode in the first round, that means things can only get better for Seidenberg as he keeps playing like the big, strong, offensive-minded shot-blocking defenseman thats shown up when his team needs him most.
Brad Marchand had some extended chats with Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger at points during the game, and that seems like a pretty natural place for some conversation to take place given their reputations. The Bs rookie said the refs were cracking down on the trash-talking given the characters out on the ice, but Marchand let out an imp-ish style at the thought hed always be on his best behavior for seven games.
Tonight I wasnt doing a ton of talking, but well see what happens as the series goes on, said Marchand. The refs were watching certain guys quite a bit, so there wasnt much stirring of the pot out there.
A pair of two-handed chop slashes from the Philadelphia Flyers as tempers flared in a game that got away from Philly, and showed just how high the level of frustration was for a Flyers team getting beaten to the punch. Chris Prongers slash on Daniel Paille was particularly egregious given that the Bs fourth line forward was lying on the ice after he collided with the Philly defenseman following a delayed icing call but there also a Kris Versteeg two-hander on the back of Michael Ryders legs that looked it was coming with a message.
In all the Flyers were called for five different slashing calls against the Bruins as they clearly opted for stick-work and cheap plays over actually attempting to move their feet and outwork Boston.
It wasnt very good tonight, the defensive play. Especially, you know, right in front of our goaltender, said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. Too many easy goals, too many easy plays, we werent strong enough right in front of our goaltender.
That was not the way we need to play in order to be successful, so theres lots of things that can change; actually everythings got to change, everythings got to improve. So well work on that.
The seven goal output was a little different for Tim Thomas after playing in so many white-knuckled one goal games and overtime contests against the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs but the Bs goaltender said he never felt too relaxed despite the 31-save effort that included some pretty big saves in the first and second period.
That was a good game. You usually dont have too many leads like that in the playoffs, said Thomas. It wasnt that big a lead, but Philly is known for their comebacks even within games so you always have to be on your toes.
In the five previous series the Flyers have played against the Bruins, and with tonight being the sixth occasion, the Flyers are 0-6 in Game 1. They have won three of the previous five series vs. Boston despite that, including the 1974 Stanley Cup Final and last years Eastern Conference Semifinal.
Huge shot-blocking effort for Gregory Campbell during a penalty kill at the end of the second period, and a pretty good representation of exactly how much grit and toughness the fourth line center plays with every night.
The beat goes on for the power play now that theyve gone 0-for-5 in the win and sit at 0-for-26 during the playoffs as the only NHL playoff team that hasnt notched a score on the man advantage.