BOSTON – The Bruins finally let everybody know what had become obvious in recent weeks: Dennis Seidenberg was trending toward a potential return from his ACL/MCL surgery in the Eastern Conference Finals. The B’s blueliner had started taking some light 1-on-1 contact in Montreal prior to Game 6 at the Bell Centre, but would still have needed some full contact team practices before returning to the fold.
“There was a possibility, yeah. He’d been skating for almost a month, and he started taking a little bit of contact,” said Claude Julien. “I think that would have been a discussion that we would have had heading into the next round.”
Now Seidenberg will need to take solace in the fact that he’s well ahead of schedule with his right knee, and he should probably have a relatively normal offseason while getting ready for next year.
The Bruins certainly missed the German defensive warrior in the second round series against the Montreal Canadiens. It was never more obvious than after dropping a 3-1 decision to the speedy Habs in Game 7 at TD Garden, and watching as youngsters like Kevan Miller and Matt Bartkowski make mistakes attempting to fill the void left by the German defenseman.
Miller made key early mistakes that led to goals in the Game 3 and Game 6 losses at the Bell Centre, and again looked rattled against the Canadiens in the winner take all Game 7 at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Bartkowski was caught napping on Montreal’s first goal of the game when Dale Weise crashed the backdoor and pushed in a perfectly placed Daniel Briere pass.
Julien admitted following the Game 7 loss that perhaps some of the younger players – including the defensemen – looked a little more nervous than usual in the do-or-die atmosphere on Wednesday night.
“Give those guys credit — they did a great job of allowing us to have a good year. There’s no doubt that there was maybe a lot on their plate in these last few games, and maybe [you] could tell a lack of experience and the nervousness,” said Julien. “But it’s not just those guys. We had seven first-year players — some a little older than others — but seven first-year players in our lineup.
“I’m not using that as an excuse, I’m just saying that to me that stood out tonight as far as guys maybe not being at the top of their game.”
What also stood out was the absence of Boston’s No. 2 defenseman in a second round series loss to the Canadiens where they absolutely could have used him when the going got tough.