Seidenberg looking to build on last year's run

550560.jpg

Seidenberg looking to build on last year's run

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com 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 jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

BRIGHTON -- The third season is usually a pivotal one when it comes to an NHL player's development and trying to forecast exactly how high their ceiling will be.

So it is for David Pastrnak, who is expected to take a major leap forward in his third year after showing flashes of great promise in each of his first two seasons.

“The [World Cup] is done, so now all of my focus is on being as ready as I can for this upcoming season,” said Pastrnak, 20, who threw probably the biggest hit of his career on unsuspecting teammate Patrice Bergeron when the Czechs played Team Canada in the preliminary rounds. “I feel way bigger, very comfortable on the ice, and I obviously feel really good right now.”

Pastrnak has had moments of dazzling brilliance in Boston so far while riding the usual learning curve that every young player travels in Claude Julien’s system. In addition, injuries last season sidetracked his development process.

Pastrnak put up 21 goals and 55 points between Boston and Providence as the youngest player in either league as an 18-year-old rookie two years ago. Last season he had 15 goals and 26 points in 51 games for the Bruins while also missing significant time because of a fractured foot. The injury not only sidelined him for a few months but also made it difficult for him to jump onto the moving train of the NHL regular season once he was ready to return.

Just as the former first-round pick was really catching fire at the end of the year, time ran out on a Bruins team that had a few too many older veterans with empty gas tanks after being ridden hard throughout the season. Pastrnak scored goals in each of the final couple of games, and showed off the game-breaking ability that should be on full display if he's healthy and placed in a position to succeed.

His World Cup stint ended on a high note, as he played his best game of the tourney against Team USA, though he didn’t make a major impact in the elite international competition. He put on five pounds of muscle during the offseason and clearly looking bigger and stronger at 189 pounds after ending last season closer to 180.

Part of that is the natural physical maturation process for somebody Pastrnak’s age as he gain’s “man strength”, and some of it was a dedicated effort. He worked out in Boston with the B’s training staff for much of the summer for the first time in his career.

The expectation is that Pastrnak is going to be running on the right wing with David Krejci on Boston’s second line, and the search in training camp is for a left wing who can bring added playmaking ability and maybe a little size and strength to the mix. In a perfect world Krejci and Pastrnak will develop into the same dynamic, two-way combination of Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Pastrnak and Krejci could be a lethal offensive duo to be sure, but they’ll also have to pay attention to the little details if they want to stay together playing for Julien. Perhaps with that in mind, Julien was looking to temper expectations for Pastrnak

“I don't know if [the World Cup experience] accelerates expectations. But it's certainly encouraging to see that a guy that's got that experience to go and play at that level, and made himself better,” said Julien. “We know he's skilled and we know he's fast, and he's also gotten stronger. He's taking steps in the right direction here. We can look at those guys that are first overall picks and say, wow, some guys are exceptional.

“Some of the guys, you've got to give them time to grow and develop. That's what we need to do with David Pastrnak. I think we've got to stop putting expectations too high for him, and allow him to grow properly. He's going to have some growing pains and there are still some things he's going to want to get better at. There are still some things that he's going to want to learn that we're going to want to teach him. Let's give him that opportunity to grow properly without the extra pressure and extra expectations that maybe are not realistic.”

One would argue Pastrnak put those expectations on himself when he posted the 21 goals and 55 points as an 18-year-old, but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, the Pastrnak development project can, and should, be one of the things considered when we evaluate Julien’s current ability to get the most out of his young prospect-type players.

The bottom line with Pastrnak and the Bruins is this: It’s his contract year and motivation should be sky high. The Czech youngster is one of the few people who can step up and help fill the offensive void left by the free-agent departure of Loui Eriksson. Expectations are much higher for an experienced, talented 20-year-old than they are for a wide-eyed 18-year-old, and Pastrnak needs to make a big stride forward. Now is the time for Pastrnak to show all he’s learned, and completely unleash the array of offensive skills that caught everybody’s eye in the first place.

The Bruins need Pastrnak, and young players, to step up and start taking ownership of the hockey team.

Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

bruins-beleskey-122715.jpg

Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

The Bruins announced their lineup for the second preseason game on Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings, and it was slightly more veteran-laden than the youthful Boston group tapped for Monday night’s opening loss to the Blue Jackets.

Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Dominic Moore lead the grizzled group of Bruins players readying for the exhibition tilt against their Atlantic Division rivals, and 19-year-old Zachary Senyshyn will make his preseason debut after getting fully medically cleared from appendectomy surgery a couple of weeks ago.

The 2015 first round pick has had a bit of a rough summer after bouts with mononucleosis and appendicitis forced him to miss Bruins rookie camp, but Senyshyn has quickly regained his strength and the blazing speed that's his biggest asset as a player. 

Austin Czarnik, Peter Mueller and Sean Kuraly are the only players from the opening night roster that will be in again to show their stuff against the Winged Wheels, and undoubtedly to get another long look from the Bruins coaching staff. Here is the full Black and Gold lineup for Wednesday night’s home date against the Red Wings with the untelevised exhibition game to be streamed on bruins.com

 

FORWARDS: Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Brian Ferlin, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, Sean Kuraly, Dominic Moore, Peter Mueller, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Chris Casto, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar.