Seidenberg key in Bruins third-period success

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Seidenberg key in Bruins third-period success

Sometimes it takes a period or two for a hockey coach to recognize who his hot hands are, and thats exactly what happened in Tuesday nights three-goal comeback with Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

The German defenseman was solid throughout the eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at TD Garden, but Seidenberg had his number called quite a bit by Claude Julien in the third period as he responded favorably to the increased duty. Seidenberg was also inserted back into the Bruins power play in the third period in place of rookie Dougie Hamilton, and helped produce two of the Bs scores in the stunning last-minute comeback.

He was having a good game. I really felt he was playing very well. He seemed to be willing to shoot that puck, so we put him back there on the power play and gave him that opportunity, said Claude Julien. Its just about getting a feel about what youre seeing form your bench and from your team on specific nights. He was good tonightI thought he was a real good player for us. He was probably our best defenseman tonight.

Befitting Bostons best defenseman Seidenberg led the Bruins with 26:52 of ice time in the extra session game, led the Bruins with a plus-2 and finished with a pair of assists while admitting after the game he was feeling pretty good.

Its hard to explain but I felt like I had my really good skating legs moving around out there, said Seidenberg, who had only a single assist in eight games this season entering Tuesday nights loss to the Rangers. We had a lot of pressure going on. When we get pucks to the net with bodies there anything can happen, and thats what we did.

It was the first goal in the third period that keyed the whole comeback, and actually arrived a second after the Boston power play had expired. But the PP unit was still on the ice and that meant Seidenberg was out there after Julien had slotted him back into the special teams crew.

The German defenseman cranked a shot from the right point that Milan Lucic redirected from the slot area in front of the net. Henrik Lundqvist kicked the puck out toward his left right to David Krejci, and the center slipped a shot past the Rangers goaltender to get the blood pumping for the Black and Gold.

They scored to make it 3-0. What I said to our players once we got that first goal, you know, I was saying there was over 10 minutes left and the guys were saying listen its about getting a goal every five minutes, said Claude Julien. Its very doable and they believe in themselves. They just kept at it. We had some chances before we scored, but they just believe that they can do it.

All of that belief started with Seidenberg helping to finish off a play midway through the third period in one of his understatedly dominant performances for the Black and Gold, and the rest was history once the Bruins got rolling in their third period.

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.