Tim Thomas, Dennis Seidenberg

Can Dennis Seidenberg generate a strong encore after his outstanding playoff run?

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Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has been an underrated asset for quite some time now. The German-born defenseman produced three consecutive 30+ point seasons while playing an efficient puck-moving style. (He also absorbed enough punishment from receiving hits and blocking shots to earn the nickname “The Pain Sponge” in 2009-10.)

After being quietly impressive for years, Seidenberg drew some dark horse consideration for the Conn Smythe as he worked some shutdown magic alongside Zdeno Chara on the Bruins’ top defensive pairing in the 2011 playoffs. After averaging between 22:20 and 23:33 minutes per game in the last three seasons, Seidenberg’s workload ballooned to a 27:38 minute average in the last postseason. He responded by playing some of the best hockey of his career, as Seidenberg continued his efficient ways while adding extra doses of poise and physicality to his game.

Obviously, it didn’t hurt his cause to pair up with an all-world defenseman like Chara, but CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty wonders if Seidenberg can back up his breakthrough playoffs. Seidenberg admits that even he’s surprised to watch how well he played for Boston during NHL Network’s replays of the postseason games.

“When I saw those games on NHL Network all the time and I’d turn and just watch for a second. It seemed like everything was so simple and nothing seemed to faze me, or us,” said Seidenberg. “You think that you can do that anytime you want, but when you get on the ice you don’t always have that calmness and composure with the puck.

“It’s tough to get back when you’ve been off the ice for a couple of months.”

Seidenberg should be a useful blueliner for the B’s whether he plays alongside Chara or not, although his numbers would probably dip if he finds himself with one of the team’s other defensemen.

“It was definitely on my mind over the summer, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter whether I’m paired with him or not,” said Seidenberg. “I have to play my game and focus on my tasks. I just have to focus on my game and keep trying to get better.”

Did Seidenberg get a little spoiled skating with Chara during the playoffs after the two were separated for the entirety of the regular season?

“Every time you’re on the ice with him you get spoiled,” said Seidenberg. “I learned so much from him. It’s a lot of fun being paired with [Chara].”

There was a considerable drop-off from Chara/Seidenberg to the rest of Boston’s pairings, so it might make sense to split them up – at least during the regular season. That would allow the team to have better balance overall and Haggerty points out that the two weren’t paired with each other very often during the 10-11 regular season.

Either way, it might be tough for Seidenberg to match his efforts from the 2011 playoffs, but the Bruins should be happy if he maintains his versatile and often selfless style of play in 2011-12.

2016 Lady Byng finalists: Barkov, Eriksson and Kopitar

Slovenia forward Anze Kopitar, left, and Sweden forward Loui Eriksson battle for the puck in the second period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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The low penalty minutes and high point totals are in, and thus we have the 2016 NHL Awards’ three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Loui Eriksson and Anze Kopitar.

OK, the actual definition for the award is that it goes “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Same difference, eh?

Barkov really made a breakthrough this season with the Florida Panthers, scoring 59 points versus just eight penalty minutes. He only has 34 PIM in 191 career regular season contests.

You can see Eriksson and Kopitar representing their respective countries in this post’s main image. Eriksson enjoyed his best (and maybe last?) season with the Boston Bruins while Kopitar hopes to win the 2016 Selke as the Los Angeles Kings’ defensively adept – yet apparently courteous – forward.

It’s unclear who wins this “fight,” but one would assume it wouldn’t be a dirty one.

WATCH LIVE: Game 2 of Islanders – Lightning, Penguins – Capitals

Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) starts to celebrate his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) and Kris Letang (58) during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Dallas Stars right wing Valeri Nichushkin (43) takes control of the puck in front of St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 3-0. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.

The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.

Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.

Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.

Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:

Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

Pittsburgh Penguins' Conor Sheary (43) is greeted by teammates Brian Dumoulin (8) and Chris Kunitz (14) after scoring his first NHL goal, in the first period of the Penguins' hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Bruins' Brad Marchand is at lower right. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.

As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.

Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.

For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.

The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”

Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.

The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.

“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.