When you think about the Boston Bruins defense, chances are the first and sometimes only guy you think of is Zdeno Chara. It’s tough to not think of the team’s 6’8″ behemoth captain with the booming slap shot and physical presence that often frustrates opponents into playing poorly. When looking back at the Bruins Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, however, there’s another player who was as big a factor to their success as Chara was and it’s the guy he’s paired up with.
Dennis Seidenberg averaged more time on ice than anyone else on the Bruins against the Lightning (28:04 per game) and blocked the most shots in the series by far (24) to help buoy the Bruins defense. Seidenberg was also fourth on Boston in hits delivered behind Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, and Chara with 12. In short, when the Bruins are looking for a shutdown guy, Seidenberg gets the call.
CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty checks in with words of praise from Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli about what Seidenberg means to the Bruins.
“He’s just so strong and he makes the right play. Strong on the puck, I don’t know how often you’ve seen him lose a puck battle this series. Obviously we’ve 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 he’s confident now. He’s a strong, strong player. He’s thick and he can log those minutes — like those twenty-five plus minutes — and recover very quickly. [He’s] a very valuable piece of the puzzle.”
Seidenberg was one of Chiarelli’s savvy deals acquiring him and prospect Matt Bartkowski from Florida in exchange for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and a draft pick. Since doing that last season, Seidenberg has fit into the Bruins system perfectly providing the brand of tough defensive play they like to have out of their blue liners. Seidenberg in the playoffs has also added some offensive punch too with a goal and seven assists and pinching in deep to help the offense when needed. He’s not counted on for offensive support but he’s shown that added touch in the postseason, something the Bruins are more than happy to have.
That said, Chara and Seidenberg are going to have their hands full and then some dealing with Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Alex Burrows in the Stanley Cup finals. After the performances they put on in the Western Conference finals, suffice to say they’re ready and waiting for their chance to show they can do it at one more level. It’ll be up to Chara and Seidenberg to slow them down and expect the Bruins to watch a lot of tape from Vancouver’s series with Nashville for inspiration.