Pats aren't looking ahead beyond Dolphins

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Pats aren't looking ahead beyond Dolphins

FOXBORO -- Week 17 will be an interesting one. Not just for the Patriots to find out what seed they'll have in the playoffs, but also to find out who they'll be playing.

The assumption would be that at some point this week, somebody might start to look ahead at the potential teams New England could face. Still, this is the Patriots. And that's just not how they do business.

At least, that's what they continue to say. And offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels re-iterated that in a conference call on Monday, saying that all they're doing is preparing for the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.

"I dont think theres any less preparation because this is the second time around against a division opponent," said McDaniels. "This team is a team that theyre obviously a really good defensive team. They have a lot of talented players at all three levels of their defense. We certainly had our hands full in the first game with them and it was a nip and tuck game there most of the way. They created some issues for us, so my whole focus and our whole focus this week is going to be on trying to get our team and our offense to play as well as we can against Miami.

"If theres time to find some extra time at some point later in the week to try to squeeze in a little bit of work on somebody else then thats great, but I know Im going to spend my time trying to get our team ready to go and play against Miami and see if we can put together a good performance. Its always a challenge to play a division opponent the second time this close to one another. You did so many things you wanted to do in the first game and now you have that dilemma: do we change a lot, do we keep it much the same? And theyre going to go through the same things too. They have our complete, total focus this week.

"I think what matters is that we finish out the season the right way and then try to prepare and have a great week of preparation, whomever we play," added McDaniels. "I think our focus is going to be on the Dolphins and whatever we end up doing in the playoffs or what have you, then well find out after Sunday."

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.