Seidenberg stepping up his game for postseason

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Seidenberg stepping up his game for postseason

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Stanley Cup playoffs are simply Dennis Seidenbergs time of year.

He was one of the key figures during last years Stanley Cup championship after he was paired with Zdeno Chara in the opening series of the playoffs against Montreal, and many spoke of Seidenberg as a dark horse candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy because of it.

Well, he's is at it again.

The 30-year-old German defenseman is averaging 27 plus minutes of ice time per game, and they have been heavy, hard minutes. He is usually tangling with Russian wrecking ball Alex Ovechkin and whichever gritty forwards Dale Hunter tosses out there with him. But in the ultimate sign of courage, Seidenberg keeps going at Ovechkin even if he knows it takes an act of the hockey gods to knock him off his skates.

"Its a tough battle. Ovechkin is a very thick guy, but its fun," Seidenberg said. "Its playoff hockey and everything comes at you a little harder. Thats what its all about. Maybe its that you play a little more reckless. Maybe during the regular season I wouldnt try to hit as hard. I know that I just enjoy playing in the postseason and that makes me play that way.

Ovechkin is very strong on his skates, but Im going to keep trying to knock him off his skates maybe one of these times.

Its similar to when Seidenberg faced Milan Lucic and the Bruins when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. The then-Carolina defenseman knew hed be on the losing end of things physically when he retrieved the puck, but that never stopped him from doing his job.

I dont think anybody likes playing against Looch. I experienced it in the playoffs a few years back, said Seidenberg. I knew I was going to get hammered by Lucic retrieving pucks, but I still did anyway. Some guys dont enjoy going back in there or going in as hard, and that gives Lucic a chance to get in there first to retrieve a puck.

Thats the kind of grit-your-teeth tough-guy courage that a player needs to be an effective defensemen in the playoffs, and Seidenberg has been far and above that.

The Bs defensemen even kicked in a little offense in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals when he carried the puck low into the offensive zone before finally getting it to Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara for the game-winning blast.

Hes a guy thats always been good in the playoffs, even before he came to us. Hes a big game player and he continues to show that, said Claude Julien. Zdeno is as good as youll get for a defenseman, and but when it comes to the playoffs Seidenberg isnt that far behind him . . . if at all.

Hes been a really good player for us and a force. Hes loving these kinds of challenges and he thrives on it to succeed. Thats the thing with Dennis Seidenberg: his whole game just comes around. Hes one of those guys that can just elevate his game. Some players can do that, and some players cant.

Seidenberg and Chara were on the ice late in the third period of Game 3 when both defensemen paid too much attention to Alex Ovechkin and forgot about Brooks Laich on the other side of the ice. Other than that, though, they've allowed just one goal in three playoff games.

The Bruins continue to need that kind of lockdown playoff defense if theyre hoping to wrest ultimate control of their first round playoff series.

Report: Bulls tell teams they won't trade Jimmy Butler

Report: Bulls tell teams they won't trade Jimmy Butler

The Bulls reportedly weren’t making Jimmy Butler available for a trade last month.

As the trade deadline approaches, it seems that hasn’t changed.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

 

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The teams that talked to the Chicago Bulls today were told, “Just about everybody on our roster is available, but Jimmy Butler is not.”

The Bulls are not obliged to stand by that, and there’s no indication they’ve assured Butler anything. If they’re offered a package more valuable than Butler, they’ll trade him.

But that’s a lot of value.

Click here for the complete story.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.