Kelly confident B's will avoid Stanley Cup hangover

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Kelly confident B's will avoid Stanley Cup hangover

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Chris Kelly had been to the Stanley Cup Finals before last season, and he knows what the hangover year is all about.

Kellys Ottowa Senators didnt capture the Cup in 2006-07, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games, but Ottawa played all four rounds of the playoffs and was still skating into the month of June.

Kelly played in 20 games that postseason after skating in all 82 regular-season contests, and he knows the potential pitfalls of a short summer and worrying too much about the start to the regular season. During the next season the Senators were under new management and a new head coach when the team of Bryan Murray and John Paddock took over, and Ottawa stormed out the gate with a 23-3 record over the first couple of months.

But a little normal seasonal fatigue, combined with the previous years long playoff run hit the Senators hard down the stretch that season, and they were an easy first-round victim of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the playoffs.

Clearly the situation was a little different there than it is in Boston. The Senators didnt actually win the Stanley Cup and there were some personality quirks on some of those Senators teams.

But Kellys lesson is clear: Dont be so intent to prove there is no Stanley Cup hangover early in the season and then leave little in the gas tank for the stretch run and playoffs.

Thats a big part of the reason why the Bruins' front office forbade their players from showing up for organized practices prior to Labor Day. The Bs want their players in good playoff position by Thanksgiving, but they know having them rested and ready come playoff time is the priority.

Paddock wanted us to come in, you know, in the best shape possible and really get off to a great start. We did that. I think we got out to a 23-3 record and won all our preseason games, but that year we barely snuck into the playoffs. I think it came down to the last game or the second last game for us to make it.

We ended up getting swept four straight in the first round. I think that was a good lesson to learn that its a long season, you know, and you don't want to peak too soon. The 82 games are in place for a reason. I think the coaching staff and management and players, we know that and know there's not going to be any easy nights for us. We want to stay focused from the first game right to the last one.

Kelly knows the hangover talk will be part of the entire post-Stanley Cup lexicon this season, and hes ready to deal with it. There will be fatigue that needs to be overcome, there will be teams looking to knock the Bruins off their top rung and there will be mass amounts of adversity as there was last season.

I think everyone's going to talk about the Stanley Cup hangover and that comes with the territory, said Kelly. That's what happens when you win. I'm sure Chicago went through it all last year. I think it's a mind-set that we're all aware of and something that you need to focus on.

You need to come to the rink each and every day and work that much harder because the rest of the teams are going to play you hard. You're a measuring stick to the rest of the league right now.

The official start to measuring stick season is Oct. 6, and it appears that Kelly among others will be ready for it.

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.