Seidenberg looking to build on last year's run


Seidenberg looking to build on last year's run

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BRIDGEPORT, CT. Things probably couldnt be any better for Dennis Seidenberg right about now.

The 29-year-old defenseman is coming off a Stanley Cup championship run in which he played the best hockey of his career. The entire run brought Seidenberg to the forefront on a national level, and pushed everything in his game up to a level that people openly wondered hed ever achieve.

Seidenberg had endured a spate of injuries earlier in his career and never truly realized his potential with the Flyers or the Hurricanes, but the Bruins coveted Seidenberg after watching him excel with Carolina in the postseason. He was tough on the Bruins with his compact, powerful build combined with his skillful offensive instincts, and he raised his level of play when the competition toughened.

The German defenseman became that guy in the Cup playoffs, and hasnt skipped even a half-beat during training camp this fall. Seidenberg hammered a Gregory Campbell pass into the top shelf past Evgeni Nabokov for the game-winning goal with eight minutes remaining in the third period of Saturdays 3-2 win over the Isles at Webster Bank Arena.

It was Seidenbergs fourth shot of the night on net and a nice little finale for the preseason with an Eastern Conference alley fight facing the Bs Thursday against the Flyers at TD Garden.

It was Seidenberg that was truly expected to step up and lead the defensemen crew with Zdeno Chara a healthy veteran scratch in the final preseason game for the Bs, and it was Seidenberg that did exactly that.

Considering that exactly a year ago Seidenberg was coming an injury in his first full training camp with the Bruins and attempting to shake off some considerable levels of rust after missing the entire postseason with an injury the steady, solid Bs blueliner has covered a lot of ground.

The defensemans willingness to step into the play and fire a searing shot at the net during crunch time was a level of confidence he didnt have for much of last season but one that hes tapped into since last May after he was paired with Chara against the Habs in the playoffs.

What a difference a year makes, said Seidenberg. Everything feels pretty good and physically Im in good shape considering the quick summer. The whole defensemen group is just working on making sure that were ready to go for the season, and I think were right there.

Bruins coach Claude Julien has noted all through camp that some veterans have needed a little more babying and gradual practice schedules after a grueling playoff run while other players hit the ice running in September.

Seidenberg was clearly one of the Bs in the latter camp of Cup vets. Hes been in midseason form skating, shooting and moving the puck, and should be primed for a monster season with all the experiences of last season behind.

After all it was Seidenberg who finished last year as the second most valuable player in the Cup playoffs behind Tim Thomas, and seemed to himself realize just how good he could potentially be on the ice. No longer was he just a shot-blocking machine with a nice offensive package of skills, but hed become a dominant force at the defensemen position to bookend with the equally dominant Chara.

I think confidence-wise, especially after the playoffs he had last year, Seidenbergs playoff performance has got to be something he builds on. To me, after Tim Thomas, he could have been the Conn Smythe winner, said Julien. He flew under the radar with a lot of people, but certainly not with us.

He was outstanding. Hes a guy thats comfortable on either side. At the same time, if you split him and Z it certainly gives us a real strong stability in our defensive pairings as well. Hes a pretty big presence back there for us.

For his part Seidenberg would love to skate with Chara again this season as they did in the playoffs, but the ice time horse also knows its a long year full of potential defensemen partners. Hes happy to skate with whichever player the coaching staff slots in next to him in a pairing, and potentially form an even deeper blueliner crew if both Chara and Seidenberg can act as the lead partner in their respective defensive pairings.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season. 

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins were supposed to hit the ice for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday following their empty 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, but those plans were scrubbed.

The reeling Black and Gold instead cancelled practice, with only Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zane McIntyre taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena and the rest of the B’s hitting the giant reset button after an embarrassing loss.

“I think it’s one of those [things] where you’ve got to regroup and recharge the batteries, and feel better,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Maybe a little bit of fatigue was part of it [Monday vs. the Isles] and you use a day like today to look forward, look at videos and be better the next day. It happens today and we have another game tomorrow [against Detroit].”

While it is true that the Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have played more games than anybody else in the NHL in this wacky season with a condensed schedule, the B’s leaders weren’t having it as an excuse with both the Maple Leafs and Senators holding an incredible six games in hand on Boston. Blown opportunities against bad opponents are exactly the recipe for missing the playoffs, as they have in each of the past two seasons, and the Bruins are tracking to do that again.

“All of the teams are in the same situation. It’s about managing and finding ways to be at your best every night and in every game. Yes, maybe [the condensed schedule] is part of it, but you can’t just put the blame on that. We’re professionals and we need to show up every game.”

The Bruins didn’t show up against the Islanders on Monday afternoon and basically pulled their second no-show vs. the Isles on home ice this season. There’s no excuse for that given the B’s current situation battling for the postseason. 

Maybe a day off the ice will improve that situation and maybe it’s simply rewarding a team that didn’t earn it on Monday afternoon, but the B’s have to hope it’s much more of the former than the latter.