April 17, 2012

Seidenberg continues to be 'big-game player' for Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

As history has long shown, certain players simply thrive on the opportunity to rise to the occasion in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Alongside perennial Norris Trophy candidate, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg has fallen right into that category throughout his tenure with the Boston Bruins. 

The German blueliner’s play went widely unheralded in last year’s playoffs, as he was overshadowed by his defensive partner in Chara and – as one might expect – Tim Thomas’ superhuman playoff run. However, there’s no denying that Seidenberg’s under-the-radar contributions helped push Boston over the top.

After leading B’s defensemen in points and the entire NHL in blocked shots during last year’s postseason, Seidenberg seems to be equally as impactful for the Black and Gold this time around.

“I think he’s the guy that’s always been good in the playoffs, even before he came to us,” coach Claude Julien said. “He’s been known as a big-game player and he continues to show that.”

Alongside Chara, Seidenberg has done a tremendous job of stifling the Capitals’ top offensive threats, dishing out a number of jolting hits to get them off their game – especially in the case of Washington captain Alex Ovechkin.

While Chara is often the prime recipient of praise, Julien believes he’s got two of the top postseason defensemen he can count on. 

“Zdeno is as good as you’ll get as a defenseman, but when it comes to playoff time, ‘Seids’ isn’t that far behind him, if at all. So, he’s been a real good player for us, a real force (and) physical. He’s loving these kinds of challenges and he thrives on it. You need those kinds of players to succeed.”

Julien made sure to point out that his praise for Seidenberg’s postseason performance is hardly a knock on the d-man’s dependability in the first 82 games of the campaign.

“With Dennis Seidenberg, he’s just one of those guys in the playoffs that his whole game just comes around,” the coach said. “We shouldn’t perceive that as a guy who doesn’t do enough during the regular season more than that’s a guy [that], when the chips are down and the games are big, he just elevates his game to that level where some players can and some can’t.

“He’s just one of those guys that can and it’s an overall game. We talk about defensively, he defends, but like you said, he’s a good skater, he’s got a great shot, he can make plays and when he’s confident he’s as good a defenseman as any in this league.”

With a dynamic duo like Chara and Seidenberg spearheading Boston’s defense, scoring goals promises to be a tall task for the Capitals or any other playoff foe the Bruins may take on from here on out.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.