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Seidenberg Rejoins Team for Practice, "Getting Closer" to Return

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had been sidelined since Game Seven against Toronto a week ago, in which he only played 37 seconds. On Monday morning, he rejoined his teammates on the ice for practice before the B's headed to New York with their 2-0 series lead.

Seidenberg had been skating apart from the team with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides for the past three days, and again was out on the ice prior to practice on his own. After getting the go-ahead to stay on, as the rest of the Bruins filtered on for the skate, Seidenberg took part in most drills.

Wade Redden was back on the ice with the team for the second straight day. Andrew Ference - still out with his injury - was the only Bruin absent.

"First of all, Seidenberg, you saw him practice today. He’s getting closer. Whether it’s next game or not, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following the skate.

As far as Redden's health, the blueliner said after practice that it's still a "day-to-day thing."

"We'll just keep treating it that way. Tomorrow we've got a game, we've all got to decide if I'm ready and go from there."

"I've been able to do more every day. It's been positive. Taking steps in the right direction."

"As far as players in and out, it’s cut and dry with us," said Coach Julien, on when any of the blueliners will have the clearance to get into game action. "I need the okay from the medical staff, which is the doctors and the trainers. And after they’ve given me the okay, then it becomes my decision. There’s no grey area when it comes to that."

With defensemen healing on the back end, it leaves the coaching staff with tough decisions to make, given the recent spark from the young trio of Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug.

"I think they know what everyone can do here. It's up to the coaches who they think is going to give the team the best chance to win," said Redden. 

"Well, the best thing to do is to cross that bridge when you get to it," said Coach. "When that time comes, whether it’s tomorrow morning or whenever, I’ll be ready to make the decision."

Until that time comes, it appears that the same defense pairings that have worked well together in Games One and Two will remain together. During a scrimmage in Monday's practice, Zdeno Chara stayed paired with Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski with Johnny Boychuk and Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid.

Bartkowski, called up from Providence before the first round, is showing the B's coaching staff how he can perform once he becomes a consistent, reliable player. There's no telling if he will remain in the lineup or not, when the veteran blueliners return, but that's not something Bartkowski is focused on.

"As long as I'm playing well, there's really nothing that I can do about it. I've just got to keep playing well and hope for the best," said Bartkowski. "If that does happen, then I played the games I could, hopefully played the best I could."

Krug, Bartkowski Impressing

A week ago, Torey Krug was watching highlights of the Bruins' Game Seven OT victory over Toronto. Now, he's a two-game playoff "veteran," with two NHL goals and an assist.

So, has he exceeded expectations for Coach Julien?

"He hasn’t been overlooked because we had to battle to get him last year, signed. I think a lot of teams wanted him," said Julien. "Am I impressed? Certainly, I’m impressed with him, I’m impressed with [Matt] Bartkowski, the young guys, [Dougie] Hamilton, that have come in and done the job."

"[Torey's] got two goals in two games, so he deserves the acknowledgement that is deserved in his case. He’s been a good player for us. He’s maybe short, but he’s stocky, he’s strong. Like I said yesterday, he handles the big guys pretty well. He’s learned how to do that at the pro level. He’s got [Brian] Boyle, he’s got [Taylor] Pyatt, he’s got some big guys that he plays against a lot. He’s done a good job."

While Coach Julien doesn't have to make any lineup decisions yet on the back end, Bartkowski is another blueliner making a case for playing time.

Despite a slower start to his season in Providence, Bartkowski has found another level, especially in the postseason since being recalled to Boston. In Sunday's 5-2 win, he logged a hefty 20:52 in ice-time, landed five hits and earned an assist on Brad Marchand's goal 26 seconds into the third period.

"I think in this situation, he’s just one of those guys that every year seems to have a slow start. Some players are like that. I’ve seen it in many players in the past, but once he finds his game he’s a good player and he’s done that every year," said Julien, of Bartkowski.

"Once you see what he becomes and how better he was after the first month, that’s when you see the real Bartkowski. He just continues to get better. Again, he’s a young player. You hope that down the road he gets it; he figures out a way to have a better start and to be a more consistent player from the start of the season until the end."

"Right now, there’s no doubt that his starts have really hurt him as far as being maybe considered for our team because we don’t see what we need to see. But once we do, as you can see, he’s got the full confidence of our coaching staff right now."

Focusing on Their Game

In the first round against Toronto, the Coach Julien's players admitted that following their Game Two loss, they had focused too much on how the Leafs were going to come out, and strayed from their game plan.

This series, the B's have started with jump in each game, and have kept the pressure consistent. They've been concentrating on their own game.

"Doesn’t matter," said Coach following Monday's practice, when asked what he expects out of the Rangers come Tuesday night in Game Three. "I think it’s what we expect from ourselves. That’s the thing, we always worry about the other team; we need to worry about ourselves."

"When we play well, we’re a good team and we give ourselves a chance to win. It’s more about our expectations right now, that has to be the important topic for us."

"We need to, obviously, understand they’re going to be better," he added. "We also need to be better. We’re on the road, we don’t get the last change, so it will be a tougher situation."

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