Bruins

Seidenberg shaking off a deceiving start

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Seidenberg shaking off a deceiving start

BOSTON -- A quick perusal of the stat sheet may prompt the question: Whats wrong with Dennis Seidenberg?

He has just two assists thus far after sharing the team lead in points during last years run to the Stanley Cup, and only Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk have collected goals for the Bs defensemen group. To be fair, all of Bostons defensemen have battled false starts this season, so Seidenberg isnt alone.

But theres a lot more going on than simple, obvious statistics when it comes to Seidenbergs game through his first 11 appearances for the Bs, and the things he really does well on the ice sometimes go unnoticed.

I kind of feel like Im still playing at a high level. But the more we go the more I start to doubt myself a little bit, said Seidenberg. Its tough. I have a lot of shots, Ive got my hits and Ive got my blocked shots. Ive just got to keep doing all of those things and simply hope that its coming.

When I look at the stats though which Im definitely not supposed to it doesnt help. I always creep back to the stat sheet and Im like what the hell is going on? Im all the way at the bottom. But at the end of it you have to look at how youre playing on the ice, and judge it by that.

The 29-year-old defenseman is coming off the aforementioned stellar performance during the Cup playoffs that had everybody trumpeting Seidenberg as the single biggest factor behind their championship behind the breathtaking belly-flop saves of one Tim Thomas.

But Seidenberg has managed only two points and a minus-3 in his first 11 games this season, and is on pace for a meager 14 points at the rate hes currently producing.

He managed a plus-3 in Saturday nights win against the Maple Leafs that makes everything a bit more bearable, and hes hoping a simple, quiet, productive evening of hockey can break open a stretch of positive performances in a five game Bs homestand that begins Monday night against the Islanders.

It appears Seidenberg and Joe Corvo have started spending more time together as a defensive pair in the last few games, and thats led to some good puck movement moments for the Bruins in decisive wins over the Senators and Leafs. The Bruins will continue to rotate defensemen, but expect to see that combo more if they continue to work well together with Corvo skating on the right side.

Last game against Toronto I felt good out there and I ended up with a plus-3, so thats a positive step in the right direction, said Seidenberg, with a smile on his face. I just have to make sure Im on the ice with the guys when theyre scoring some goals.

Hes squeezed off 31 shots on net only Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Zdeno Chara have more shots on goal this season but many of those attempts came early in the season when the Bruins werent getting enough bodies in front of the net.

But whatever the reason, Seidenberg is looking for heightened production.

Thats way off what the raised expectations were going into the season, and certainly not where Seidenberg saw himself after last season. The blueliner is second behind Zdeno Chara with 24:46 of ice time this season for the Bs, and has been thrown into defensemen combinations with every member of the blueline corps. Very seldom has Claude Julien placed Seidenberg and Chara together this season, however, after the two skaters dominated as a shutdown defensemen pairing during the playoffs.

Understandably, Julien is attempting to spread the wealth and keep at least one of the two defensemen on the ice at nearly all times, but thats meant a slowdown for Seidenbergs offensive game he hopes turns around quickly.

It would be a mistake to judge Seidenberg simply by his raw offensive numbers, however.
Seidenberg leads the Bruins with 33 hits, and is one of the few members of the Black and Gold tribe thats brought the physicality from the very start of the season. He also leads the Bruins with 29 blocked shots, and fills up the event summary box score each night he straps on those loud hockey skates everybody can hear approaching from a country mile on the ice.

Just as much as his cacophonous skates, it appears that opponents can hear Seidenbergs game approaching to peak form at just the right time for the Bruins.

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.