Bruins

Seidenberg sets tone for Bruins

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Seidenberg sets tone for Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It seems only fitting that Dennis Seidenberg struck the early tone in Bostons most important game of the season.

It was the German defenseman who waited for the golden opportunity early in the first period and delivered a crunching hit to Marty St. Louis that knocked the Tampa Bay Lightning speedster off his skates. The Tampa spark plug was okay after collecting himself and getting back into the play, but the big body shot wasnt forgotten by an offensive player that finished with a single shot on net.

Seidenberg sent a message this wasnt going to be St. Louis night or any other Lightnings night for that matter and it showed Tampa Bays skill players that the Boston shutdown defensemen corps of Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara werent headed anywhere except in their faces.

To start a game you always want to set a tone and start getting involved as physically as you can, said Seidenberg. I saw an opportunity to step up and get involved and I took it. I dont do it often, but when you get a chance to finish a guy off you really want to take it . . . especially in the playoffs.

After all Seidenberg and Chara are the most biggest workhorses left in the Stanley Cup playoffs as they sit third (28:22) and fourth (28:17) respectively among players in the postseason so theyre not going anywhere expect back over the boards for more ice time against the other teams top units. Seidenberg is actually the first player to eclipse 500 minutes of ice time during this seasons Stanley Cup playoffs as the Bs defenseman is sitting at 510:48 of ice time in 18 games thus far.

Seidenberg had a game-high eight blocked shots in the deciding game and logged the most ice time of anybody on either roster in the game that decided the Eastern Conference Championship and came up with a Herculean performance that cinches his role as the most underrated performer during the Bruins potential run to the Stanley Cup.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was still raving about Seidenbergs signature performance in Game 7, and the pairing with Chara that has locked the Bruins defense into place since Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens.

Since the move to unite Seidenberg and Chara the Bruins are 12-4 in the playoffs, and theyve been unstoppable when focused on the task of smothering the other teams best offensive players. Its the exact kind of punishing, physical, strangulating defense that the Bruins hope with silence the Sedin Twins and Ryan Kesler once the Canucks get things going next week.

I think he had the best game Ive seen him play, marveled Chiarelli on Saturday afternoon when breaking down a defining 60 minutes for the entire team. He was a horse last night. Then you couple him with Zee and youve got a tremendous shutdown pair. The fact that he can play -- and this is common for European players that they play the off side -- to be a shutdown guy, to make the plays on the wall with his backhand in the offensive zone and the defensive zonethats a terrific accomplishment.

Hes just so strong and he makes the right play. Strong on the puck, I dont know how often youve seen him lose a puck battle this series. Obviously weve had a couple of funky games. But he actually, he had a couple games like that with Carolina, and then last year he kind of fell through the cracks a little bit. But hes confident now. Hes a strong, strong player. Hes thick and he can log those minutes -- like those twenty-five plus minutes -- and recover very quickly. Hes a very valuable piece of the puzzle.

Seidenberg is cruising along now with a goal and seven assists along with a plus-8 in 18 games for the Bruins in the postseason, but thats only because Claude Julien made the ultimate adjustment during the Montreal series. Julien is oft-painted as a hockey coach that's loathe to make changes until its too late, but that was an example of the Bs coach making a solid choice with his team down 0-2 to the Habs.

Julien slapped together the defensemen in a pairing when Seidenberg was minus-4 after the first two losses to Montreal, and the rest has been history for the Bruins. Hes only had two minus playoff games in the ensuing 16 games during the Bs playoff run, and hes given Julien a defensive weapon he can deploy against offensive explosive players on the other side of the ice.

Seidenberg and Chara define shutdown defensemen pairing, and caused St. Louis, Steve Stamkos and Co. to all go missing in the decisive Game Seven win over the Lightning.

It was a conscious effort on the part of the coaching staff and the management group to get Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg those heavier minutes, to really put them in to a strong shut down role, said Chiarelli. If you go back we made that change after game two. And really, theyve blossomed and allowed the other D to settle more comfortably into their roles.

Seidenberg will need to keep up those heavy minutes for at least a few more weeks as there is one more defensive mountain to climb for the defenseman and the rest of his Bs teammates.

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

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.

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In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.

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Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.

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Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season. 

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