THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Bruins notebook

Glad Seidenberg is on their side

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / May 31, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Zdeno Chara is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy. But one of the league’s three best all-around defensemen — Shea Weber and Nicklas Lidstrom are the two others in the running — does not lead the Bruins in ice time in the playoffs. He isn’t the leading blue-line scorer. Chara does not have the most blocked shots.

All those honors belong to Dennis Seidenberg.

“They’ve been a great shutdown pair,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “They’ve logged a lot of minutes. They’re obviously capable of logging those kinds of minutes. They’re both in great shape. They both have a lot of endurance. They’ve been a key reason why we’ve had success.

“I don’t expect that to change. Seids is one of those guys that just never seems to get tired. We’re the ones having to pull him back, because constantly, every day, he wants to work a little harder and harder. We’re definitely pleased with those two, and they’ve been big players for us in big games. They stepped up at the right time. So we hope that continues.’’

The No. 2 defenseman has vaulted himself into the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation as the league’s playoff MVP. Seidenberg started the playoffs as a second-pairing defenseman alongside Tomas Kaberle.

But after a 3-1 Game 2 loss to Montreal, when the Bruins bosses decided they needed a shutdown duo, they paired Seidenberg with Chara. The Bruins have been 12-4 since. For Julien, rolling out Seidenberg and Chara and expecting results has been easier than clicking his laptop’s shutdown button.

Seidenberg is averaging 28:22 of ice time per game in the playoffs, nearly five minutes more per game than he played in the regular season.

He leads the Boston defensemen with one goal and seven assists in the postseason. Seidenberg has blocked 55 shots, most of any player in the playoffs. Eight of those came in the Bruins’ 1-0 Game 7 win over Tampa Bay.

“I think he had the best game I’ve seen him play,’’ general manager Peter Chiarelli said the day after that Game 7. “He was a horse. Then you couple him with Z, and you’ve got a tremendous shutdown pair.’’

Last year, the Bruins were without Seidenberg for their postseason run. On April 3, 2010, Seidenberg’s season came to an unexpected halt. That night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Seidenberg had his left arm cut by the skate blade of Nikolai Kulemin. Seidenberg was called for boarding on the play, but he was allowed to leave the penalty box for treatment when his arm didn’t stop bleeding. Seidenberg required surgery to repair a torn tendon. As the Bruins were battling the Flyers, he was still with the team but in midsummer workout mode.

Had Seidenberg been available and playing like he is now, the Bruins might have gotten past Philadelphia, his old club. This postseason, Seidenberg has been more reliable than a metronome. There is nothing frilly about Seidenberg’s game, he is all jagged edges. But in the playoffs, that’s how coaches prefer their defensemen — mean, rugged, fearless.

Julien has had that in Chara. Now he can send out two such monsters on the same pairing.

“I’m feeling good,’’ Seidenberg said. “We’ve played good together the whole playoffs. It’s been fun playing with Z. But our job’s not done. We still have the last series ahead of us. We’re really eager to come out on top.’’

Drawing up success The Eastern Conference final was the ultimate proof that faceoffs are critical to positive results. In every match, including Game 7, the team that won the most draws emerged with the victory.

“Faceoffs are an important part,’’ said the Bruins’ Chris Kelly. “They set up the whole shift. Tampa was a good faceoff team. Vancouver is as well. We’ll look at that. We’re a good faceoff team as well. Hopefully we can bring our best.’’

Patrice Bergeron has set the pace with a 62.3 winning percentage. Rich Peverley has won 51.9 percent of his draws. David Krejci has a 51.8 winning percentage. Kelly is struggling at 44 percent.

Kelly was on the wrong end of a bad faceoff in Game 6. At 0:33 of the first period, he lost a defensive-zone faceoff to Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier pulled the puck back to Teddy Purcell. Just three seconds after Kelly lost the faceoff, Purcell’s snapper was behind Tim Thomas.

The Canucks can be just as deadly on the draw. They were the best at the dot in the regular season, winning 54.9 percent. Ryan Kesler had a 57.4 winning percentage.

In Game 4 of their playoff series against San Jose, the Canucks showed how quickly they can turn faceoff wins into goals.

Henrik Sedin won a defensive-zone drop against Ryane Clowe, which triggered a remarkable set piece. Sedin pulled the puck back to Dan Hamhuis, then sprinted the other way. The defenseman veered behind his net and chipped the puck ahead to Daniel Sedin. Daniel then sent a pass up to brother Henrik to trigger a two-on-one rush with Alex Burrows against Dan Boyle. Henrik Sedin sent a backhand pass past Antti Niemi to Burrows for a tap-in.

Total elapsed time: 10 seconds.

Flashpoint Rogers Arena is known for the Green Men, the two jokers who taunt opponents who visit the penalty box. But they were upstaged in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. When Ben Eager was sent to the box, the San Jose tough guy was flashed by a female visitor. Yesterday, when asked about the Green Men, Julien proved he had seen the highlights. “I think our guys sent an e-mail asking for the other one that was there to replace them,’’ Julien cracked. “I think that’s what the guys wanted. So it will be interesting to see the one not dressed in green. Not dressed at all, for that matter.’’ . . . The Bruins practiced yesterday at TD Garden before departing for Vancouver.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto

Bruins Video