Schneider prevails in homecoming

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Schneider prevails in homecoming

BOSTON -- Cory Schneider's last start in Boston came in March of 2007 with Boston College, during the Hockey East Finals.

He returned as a starter on Saturday as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and did what Roberto Luongo couldn't do in three Stanley Cup Final games last year: win.

Schneider was part of last year's Canucks team that lost to the Bruins in seven games. But he didn't make a start. He got the call on Saturday, though, and made 36 saves in picking up his ninth win of the season, in a building he's quite familiar with.

"I think our whole group is real happy for Cory," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver's 4-3 win over the Bruins. "He's been in our organization here for five years. A really quality kid, and he spent three years with our farm team, worked real hard at his game, and last year got an opportunity to come up and spend the whole year with us. And he was a huge part of our team when we needed him. He always stepped in and did a great job.

"He never had the opportunity to play in front of his friends and family, and we thought that, after analyzing not just that -- because there were other areas to analyze -- but I just thought that he'd give us a good game. We've got two good goaltenders, and he played well for us tonight."

Schneider is a Marblehead, Mass. native. His parents, brother, and friends were in attendance. But it was clear from the get-go, he wasn't at B.C. anymore, and Bruins fans only care about the color of the jersey.

"It's a different vibe, but we got a good taste of it last year," said Schneider. "So, it's nothing new. It was completely expected. It's a great atmosphere to play in. It's a fun building to win in. But for me, it was fun to play in front of people who have grown up cheering for me and supporting me my whole life."

And clearly, the bad blood between these two teams is just getting worse. That was evident four minutes in, when an all-out brawl broke out in front of Vancouver's bench.

The last time the Bruins were in that type of melee with a team in the regular season was last year agains the Montreal Canadiens, and it ended up with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price dropping the gloves.

"I was looking down at Tim Thomas to see if he's coming," said Scheider, when asked what was going through his mind during the brawl. "But he stayed in his net, and I stayed in mine. He didn't look that interested in it, and neither was I. As a goalie, it's not my place to be grabbing guys and jumping guys unless I have to, or if their goalie gets in there."

Thomas and Schneider stayed in their nets, and Schneider was able to one-up one of the best goaltenders in the league.

"It's a great feeling," said Schneider. "As a college player, I didn't know if I would ever get the chance to play here again. So to be able to come back and have this opportunity in front of a lot of friends and family and people at home watching, it was really cool, and I guess even more special because we don't come here very often. I'm glad we got the win."

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.