NHL playoffs are brand new for some Bruins

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NHL playoffs are brand new for some Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. Claude Julien pointed out after Wednesdays practice that guys like Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton arent necessarily devoid of playoff experience.

Theyve all participated in playoff games during junior hockey, and have an inkling of what its all about.

There are some guys for us that dont have that NHL playoff experience, but they did in junior and its not like its something theyve never done before, said Julien. We just hope theyre on top of their game, and that they play well for us.

But with all apologies to the Bruins coach attempting to remove a modicum of pressure away from some of his key players, potting 9 goals in 15 playoff games for the Oshawa Generals -- as Horton did during his final year in the Ontario Hockey League -- isnt exactly the same thing as getting that first taste of Bruins-Canadiens in the postseason.

Its also the first time many of these guys will be taking a stab at the traditional playoff beard preferred by hockey players everywhere.

Im looking forward to letting it grow, said Horton. Hopefully it gets really big.

All beards aside, it perhaps bodes well for the Black and Gold that Horton at least rose to the postseason occasion in juniors before spending six years in puck purgatory with the Florida Panthers. But things will be different when Horton takes the ice with his teammates.

Horton, 25, scored 6 goals in the last 10 regular-season games while getting into his playoff mode.

You can really feel it, said Horton. Its hard to explain how you feel, but Im excited to get going and play in my first playoff game. I dont talk a lot about it, but when I do talk to the guys about it they say that its just a big step up from the regular season.

Every game means something and youre playing in the moment. Thats what they say. This is what we play for as a hockey player. To be in this situation and a be a part of this is pretty special and everybody enjoys it.

The big right winger isnt the only one to get his feet wet this particular postseason, however. Campbell was his fellow compatriot in Florida, and hes also dreamed long and hard of fulfilling all those Stanley Cup dreams he had as the young son of a larger-than-life NHL personality in Colin Campbell.

You look at Steve Yzerman, who played 15-some odd years and finally got a chance to win it, and you look at guys like Ray Bourque and Rob BrindAmour and how happy they were to win it. Its something that just brings so much joy, said Campbell. You can have a Hall of Fame unbelievable career like those guys, but unless you win a Cup you always feel like something is missing.

Seguin and Marchand are the true rookies in the Bs mix, and Marchand is perhaps the biggest wild card among any players on the Black and Gold roster given the edge hell have to play with in the postseason. But Marchand knows he needs to be mindful of the line as a first-year player still earning his stripes as a playoff performer.

I know where the line is, and its about keeping control out there, said Marchand. You want to get guys angry and hang in there if you have to. Guys get angry and come after you, and thats a part of it. Im more emotionally involved and into the game if Im playing that way, and it makes me more effective. I have to know where the line is when each game is so important and every little mistake is magnified.

At the end of the day, however, its all about maintaining and elevating the way youve played in the regular season. Horton has done that over the last month of the season, and hes showing the way for Campbell, Seguin and Marchand to similarly shine know that the postseason has arrived. It starts with treating the playoffs in the proper level of importance after working so diligently to arrive as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Its a different world here than playing in Florida, said Horton. Its a different atmosphere and its in the past. Im happy to be a part of this. Its pretty special and I think everybody enjoys it. For me its really been about bearing down and really staying in the moment. Youve got to treat each game like its your last game, and never look too far ahead.

The enjoyment starts for Horton and Co. on Thursday night against the Canadiens, and itll be pretty easy to see who has nerves and whos enjoy the bright lights and big moments of the postseason.

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

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. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.