Seidenberg a 'Warrior'
BostonBruins.com - Monday night, following the Bruins' 2-0 shutout of Chicago to take Game 3, one leader in the spoked-B passed on the "Player of the Game Jacket" to another.
Though, this leader often paves the way by thwarting others' paths.
After the B's had take a 2-1 series lead over the Blackhawks, a very demanding and intense leader in Chris Kelly passed along the jacket he had been given from Adam McQuaid to defensive leader and shutdown presence Dennis Seidenberg.
Players like Kelly and Seidenberg often go unnoticed to the public eye on a nightly basis. Everyone notices Zdeno Chara's 6-foot-9 force out on the ice, or Tyler Seguin's speed. The pair haven't been putting up offensive numbers, but they do what the Bruins like to call the "little details" the right way.
"There's no doubt there's great players on our hockey club. We make sure that the role players are just as important as the guys that are more visible to the media and to our fans as far as being the limelight of our hockey club," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said Tuesday morning, the day following Game 3.
"That's how we've always been. You've seen it in the times where guys a few years ago had that jacket, now a different one this year. It's moved around our team for different reasons. It just goes to show how we appreciate everything."
Seidenberg logs nearly as many minutes as Chara, if not more, on a nightly basis. Like his usual postseason defense partner in Chara, he routinely angles opposition to the outside and breaks up plays from the league's top superstars. He's also a shot-blocking machine, and has blocked 20 alone this series against Chicago.
"You don’t hear about him that much, but all the little things he does out there goes a long way, especially at this time of the year," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. "We recognize it in this room and I’m sure that’s all that matters to him."
He's not alone - even David Krejci in this dressing room doesn't need the glory of being considered a star player (even though he is).
When Seidenberg was sitting in 'The Jacket' at the postgame press conference podium following the win, alongside Tuukka Rask, he was asked what it means to have his teammates labeling him as "unheralded," an unsung hero.
The blueliner smiled, taking a second to react.
"It's something nice when you hear something like that about you," said Seidenberg. "I mean, yeah, that's my job."
"I haven't really been scoring, doing anything offensively. I better do that stuff," he smiled. "It's fun. I enjoy playing tough minutes and doing the little things, just like everybody else in this room. We all thrive in tough games."
There had been a great moment in the locker room prior to the game with Seidenberg's fellow blueliner Johnny Boychuk.
'Seides' is known within the room for his fitness level, similar to Chara, and being able to log workhorse minutes.
In Game 1's triple overtime, he logged a team-high 48:36 of ice-time with seven hits and nine blocked shots. In the Game 2 OT, he led the B's with 31 minutes and five blocked shots. Game 3 saw him log 25:04 in ice-time, 4:38 on the shutdown penalty kill that is now perfect dating back to Game 5 against the Rangers. He blocked six shots and landed four recorded hits.
"He does the right thing defensively and, when he gets a chance, obviously he does a good job as well," Boychuk had said. "He’s been playing really well. Strong PK [penalty kill], exceptionally strong PK and that has to continue for us."
"That’s normal for him to be strong on the puck and skating with it and being physical."
So, do you think he's underrated? a reporter asked.
"Yeah," quickly fired Boychuk.
Do you think he should get more attention? the reporter continued.
"Yeah," he again immediately responded.
Seidenberg is never underrated by his teammates - they just made it more public Monday night, when putting him in The Jacket to get his due.
"He very much deserves the credit," Chara said after the win. "He logs a lot of minutes. He plays a physical game. He’s willing to play whatever role we ask him to do, and for sure, he’s a warrior."
Seidenberg is a playoff warrior, and has been throughout his career, not only this postseason.
Seidenberg caught General Manager Peter Chiarelli's attention as a member of the 2009 Canes' team that knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs. In the 2009 offseason, he signed with Florida, but Chiarelli and the B's targeted him at the 2010 trade deadline. With an expiring contract, Chiarelli locked him up in the 2010 offseason.
He was the unsung hero during the Bruins' 2011 Cup run, much like he is now in 2013.
"I played a lot of minutes in Carolina, I played a lot of minutes in Florida. It's just a matter of finding the right spot, right coaches, and feeling comfortable," said Seidenberg, of making Boston and the spoked-B his home. "And this is the spot so far, it's been great. I couldn't ask for more."
"Every player likes to have that feeling, right?" he added, on the importance of feeling like he's found a steady role in his career. "You like to feel like you're appreciated, like you're being used the right way and counted on, so everybody that plays sports professionally is like that."
One element of the blueliner's shutdown presence is his shot-blocking, something that often gets him labeled a "machine."
This postseason alone, Seidenberg blocked 49 shots, to come in second behind Boychuk. Twenty of those have come in the past three Stanley Cup Final games.
It's one reason the Bruins' goaltender between the pipes likes playing behind them.
"They're not trying to play goalie, they're just trying to be in the lane. All the other guys are taking care of their ice, keeping their head up, looking to guys behind them or in front of them. Dennis, for example, today, he blocked a lot of shots," said Tuukka Rask, of Seidenberg and the Bruins' commitment to helping him out in shooting lanes.
"Our D did a tremendous job during the playoffs doing that. I like that, as long as they block it and not let it go through, we'll be all set," smiled Rask.
The appreciation is team-wide.
"He’s a warrior," said Brad Marchand. "He’s a guy that a lot of guys hate to play against. He’s always in your face and he’s very strong, very physical. He’s the kind of guy that can go unnoticed, but they definitely don’t on our team. That’s what he’s all about. He steps up every night and he’s been huge for us so far and he definitely deserved [The Jacket]."