Haggerty: Seidenberg turning things around

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Haggerty: Seidenberg turning things around

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

The heated exchange between Tuukka Rask and Dennis Seidenberg at one of the lowest points of the season in Toronto last weekend could very easily end up as the nadir for Seidenbergs entire season.

The 29-year-old has six goals and 22 assists along with a plus-5 on the season while playing every game this season, and averaging just a shade under 24 minutes of ice time per night but things had turned southward over the last couple of weeks.

Capped off by the RaskSeidenberg flap in Toronto, the defenseman was in the midst of a seven game scoreless rut that saw him post a minus-6 and put together six straight minus performances. The German defenseman was noticeably having difficulty holding steady in front of the Boston net, and was part of the overall team breakdown that went down on the road.

When things happen out there and there are defensive breakdowns where youre not getting the bounces, it seems like the minus numbers keep piling up, said Seidenberg. Its just how it goes."

It seems pretty obvious that logging big minutes in every game this season and missing virtually no time from the practice ice over the course of the year had worn down the blueliner a bit.

But just like the teams fortunes, all of that has changed for Seidenberg in the last two highly successful home games that have ended with wins.

Seidenberg served notice early in the win over New Jersey that his personal slump was over when he picked up the primary assist in Bostons first goal against the Devils with a sharp shot from the right point. More importantly, Seidenberg was playing steady defense in front of Tim Thomas between the pipes, and actually saved a goal against the Habs while the game was still in question.

Brian Gionta flew down the right side of the net when it was still a 3-0 hockey game on Thursday night with a trailer storming down the middle, and fired a puck that appeared destined for a goal after Thomas was caught out of position. Instead Seidenberg slid behind Thomas to cover up the goal crease, and blocked the Gionta shot headed into the open net.

That play helped keep the Canadiens at bay before they completely quit in the third period against the Bruins, and showed the kind of intelligent, steady defensively play Seidenberg is counted on for when hes going right.

The Boston defenseman was ecstatic to get out of the land of minus hockey over the last couple of games, and is at a plus-2 with an assist in the last two games while reversing his play from tough luck to stalwart. Seidenberg was somewhat miscast as a No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara for the bulk of the season, and has been adjusting to life as a D partner for Tomas Kaberle over the last month.

It looks like the adjustment period is just about over.

I was relieved in that last game to look down and see a plus on the scoresheet, said Seidenberg. Its definitely a good feeling. Its good to be on the positive side again and its good to be winning as well.

Theres no coincidence that Thomas has stopped 54 of 55 shots over the last two wins, and seems to be back on track as Seidenberg and Co. have locked things down around the net and blocked any shots that their goaltender isnt going to get a good peek at given the bodies flying in front of the net.

The team played really well in front of me the last two games, said Thomas. Kept the chances to a minimum and allowed me to see the shots and keep them to the outside. That made my job a lot easier in the last two games, so its allowing me to build some confidence and start to feel comfortable.

Seidenbergs role on the Bruins among their top defensemen is going to be one of the big keys headed into the playoffs, and success will hinge a great deal on the German defender playing just like he has the last two games and seeing a lot more plus signs on the nightly scoresheet.

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

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Hayes: 'I know I've got to bounce back and have a strong year'

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Hayes: 'I know I've got to bounce back and have a strong year'

DORCHESTER –Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke last weekend of the need for big winger Jimmy Hayes to step up next season if Loui Eriksson should indeed depart via free agency.

“I think Jimmy had a pretty good start to the year, but he really tailed off when the team needed him most. He should take some responsibility for that,” said Sweeney. “We had a pretty frank discussion about that to challenge him to take his game to another level, and be able to help out a younger player. He played a lot with Ryan Spooner.

“I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying ‘Hey, I have to take more responsibility. It’s not just about finishing and scoring goals.’ He has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, and he needs to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency. It’s an area that he needs to continue to improve upon. We as an organization feel that we need to have players that are driven to get better.”

Hayes heard that loud and clear just as he received the same message during exit interviews with the Bruins back in April, and knows that he needs to simply put more into next season.

Hayes’ numbers dropped from the previous season with the Florida Panthers, and he finished with 13 goals, 29 points and a minus-12 while going through long stretches where he completely disappeared on the ice. That’s a difficult thing for a 6-foot-6 forward to do, but Hayes managed while going weeks at a time without scoring and failing to play the big man’s game around the net on most nights.

The 26-year-old Hayes knows that needs to change for both his personal benefit and for the well-being of the Black and Gold this upcoming season.

“It’s definitely something that’s going to motivate me beyond just already motivating myself [this summer]. We had our own discussions [during exit interviews], and I know I’ve got to bounce back and have a strong season,” said Hayes. “I need to make sure I help my team win, and that’s what it’s all about. I want to be consistent and available every night to try get two points for our team, and get us as an organization back where we want to be.

“We just talked about how the season went, and we were really up-front with each other. We just want to continue to get better and more consistent, and get better through the season rather than have these spurts where you’re putting up numbers. And if you’re not scoring then you’ve got to find other ways to help the team win, and get to those areas where you’re going to get rewarded for going to those hard areas on a consistent basis.”

This isn’t the first time that Hayes has said all the right things about turning around his game, and really, truly living up to the hope he could be a big-bodied factor down low for the Black and Gold tipping, redirecting, screening and shoveling home rebounded pucks from areas all around the front of the net.