Seidenberg looking to extend playoff performance

191545.jpg

Seidenberg looking to extend playoff performance

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Even Dennis Seidenberg caught himself a few times this summer watching replays of the Stanley Cup playoff games, and asking himself one simple question.

Who was that guy wearing the No. 44 Bruins sweater playing with strength, poise, tenacity, tireless endurance and such a smoothness carrying pucks up and down the ice?

The German defenseman knew, of course, that he was watching himself play the best hockey of his NHL career amid Bostons run to Stanley Cup glory, and that hed be hard-pressed to operate at such a high level jumping into this season.

When I saw those games on NHL Network all the time and Id turn and just watch for a second. It seemed like everything was so simple and nothing seemed to faze me, or us, said Seidenberg. You think that you can do that anytime you want, but when you get on the ice you dont always have that calmness and composure with the puck.
Its tough to get back when youve been off the ice for a couple of months.

The burning question becomes whether Seidenberg can elevate his regular season for longer stretches to match the super defenseman that emerged for Boston during the postseason. Hes done it in big games and has all of the physical attributes to be a top pair defenseman, and the former Flyers, Hurricanes and Panthers blueliner now has the health that always eluded him earlier in his career.

So this upcoming season could be the year where it all comes together after his breakout 25 game body of work leading up to the Cup.

The 29-year-old looked a bit different from the playoff beast as he hopped off the ice Friday morning following captains practice. There was a bit more huffing and puffing involved as hes engaged in his annual transformation from weight room training to hockey shape, but its the same player with the steady skill set and ability to elevate his game during the postseason.

Seidenberg has also always been a hockey player thats been extremely tough on himself as an individual, and doesnt normally give himself the credit he deserves for his skill package as a puck-moving defenseman. That meant his confidence wasnt always brimming at its highest possible level, but thats something Seidenberg might just be able to hold onto after watching how well he played in the postseason.

Personally I feel really good. I feel even better than I did last year, said Seidenberg. I know that I can get it all back. Its just a matter of getting that feel and that confidence going again. That shouldnt be a problem for me.

You get used to playing the big minutes. You get smarter and you get more efficient. Somehow it would work, but I hadnt really thought it much.

Some argued that Seidenberg deserved Conn Smythe dark horse consideration given the 27:38 of ice time he played in the 25 playoff games, and his tone-setting physicality as Zdeno Charas defenseman partner made them the perfect shutdown pair during the postseason.

It was definitely on my mind over the summer, but at the end of the day it doesnt really matter whether Im paired with him or not, said Seidenberg. I have to play my game and focus on my tasks. I just have to focus on my game and keep trying to get better.

Did Seidenberg get a little spoiled skating with Chara during the playoffs after the two were separated for the entirety of the regular season?

Every time youre on the ice with him you get spoiled, said Seidenberg. I learned so much from him. Its a lot of fun being paired with Chara.

It would be very tempting for the Bruins to put those two stalwart defensemen together during the season, and see just how good they could be at shutting down the NHLs best players. But it could also be something that makes sense in a winner-take-all postseason setting, but doesnt allow for enough balance during an 82-game regular season.

Its something for the Bs coaching staff to tinker with during the upcoming training camp, and its up to the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg to see if he can build on a solid 32-point regular season with a plus-3 rating.

Seidenberg showed he could be even better than that in the playoffs, however, and the Bruins will need the playoff Seidenberg more often if they hope to stave off their Stanley Cup hangover this year.

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

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.