Bruins ready for a rumble at Madison Square Garden

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Bruins ready for a rumble at Madison Square Garden

WILMINGTON, MA Just three days after ruining the start to their season by handily tossing them a bitter defeat before they were demoralized by the Pittsburgh Penguins on their own home ice, the Bruins know that the Rangers wont be a red-faced bunch of Blueshirts on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Theyre fully prepared for the hornets nest effect waiting for them at Madison Square Garden and know the urgency will be there for a New York team thats now 0-2-0 in a shortened campaign where a bad start could be fatal.

We know their season hasnt started the way they wanted to, so theyre going to come at us with everything theyve got, said Milan Lucic as the Bruins finished up Tuesday practice at Ristuccia Arena before boarding their charter flight for New York City. Theyre a proud team and weve had some great battles over the last few years. We expect nothing less tomorrow night.

This is the first time that weve started the season 2-0-0 since Ive been here, so we want to keep it going. Were looking to put away what weve already done, and then start all over again every time we drop the puck.

In fact it's the Bruins best start in 11 years dating back to the 2001-02 edition of the Black and Gold that started off 3-0-0 on the season -- and boasted current assistant general manager Don Sweeney among it's defensemen corps and had the inimitable Byron Dafoe between the pipes.

Its difficult to explain whats going on in New York beyond some key players that simply dont appear like they were ready to begin the season. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from the Penguins loss, the first time that has happened since October 22, 2011 in Edmonton when the Swedish puck-stopper was having equipment issues, and didnt look sharp last weekend against the Bruins either.

Rick Nash has points in each of his first two games for the Rangers, but its clear the old chemistry isnt quite there yet for a team that won the Eastern Conference and marched to the conference finals last season. With the Bruins feeling on top of the world after a 2-0-0 start at home and the Rangers already feeling the heat while struggling with 4 percent of their season already complete, it should the same kind of playoff atmosphere that kicked up at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Will the Rangers come out with more urgency?

I dont think they will, I know they will, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. When youre that type of team and youre put in that kind of position, you would expect the very best out of them tomorrow.

Its not an easy building to play and weve had our fair share of tough games there over the years. So were expecting a challenge. But nonetheless its an opportunity for us to go into their building and play the best New York team that theyve been so far this season. It will be a really tough test and well be up to it.

Heart-and-soul players like Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh will have their mean faces on, the defense should be paying much more attention to detail after allowing nine goals in their first two games and pride should certainly be kicking in for Lundqvist, he of the .865 save percentage two games into the wild, wacky 48-game regular season.

So put Saturday nights win in the books as a nice opening statement and get ready for the kind of Wednesday night Round 2 that Madison Square Garden has seen its share of in its 45-year history.

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.