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Bruins look to Seidenberg for in-your-face style

by Mike G. Morreale /

CHICAGO -- Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara likes to refer to teammate Dennis Seidenberg as the warrior.

Dennis Seidenberg
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 28 | +/-: 4
There's nothing flashy about his game. He's just that hard-nosed, in-your-face type of player who always seems to have an opposing forward off-balance or questioning their direction when they reach his domain.

"He logs a lot of minutes, he plays a physical game and he's willing to play whatever role we ask him to do," Chara said of his usual defense partner.

The extent of Seidenberg's offensive contributions in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring has been minimal, a single assist he acquired over a month ago in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It means absolutely nothing to those familiar with what he generates on the ice.

"He knows how to position himself, and it always seems like he's in the player's face … he doesn't give them much time to make plays and he's so smart," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said.

It's that bruising style that teammates and coaches have come to respect and know needs to continue Saturday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, when the Bruins face the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.

The Bruins had an uncharacteristic lapse on defense in Game 4 when the Blackhawks scored six times in a 6-5 overtime victory, the most goals scored against Boston in 20 playoff games. The team has a 2.05 goals-against average in the postseason. Make no mistake, Seidenberg and Chara take that personally and would like nothing more than to make amends in Game 5.

"[Seidenberg's] dedication to the game is obvious, first and foremost," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "I think he really takes care of himself and sacrifices his body to make plays and blocks a ton of shots. I think he's very smart and has a smart defensive mind on the ice. He has a good awareness of what is going on and makes the plays that need to be made."

Seidenberg is second on the Bruins with 51 blocked shots and sixth with 47 hits in 16 playoff games. Johnny Boychuk, who leads the team with 57 blocks, has played four more games than Seidenberg. "Seids", as he is commonly referred to by teammates, is second on the team in ice time per game (26:34); Chara logs 29:59.

Few will ever forget the bioniclike effort Seidenberg exhibited in the triple-overtime, 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 when he logged 48:36 of ice time, had nine blocks and delivered seven hits.

Seidenberg has worn the Bruins' Army Ranger postgame jacket, emblematic of a game's most valuable player as voted by the team. That occurred after the 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Final at TD Garden when he earned 25:04 of ice time, took one shot, blocked six and threw four hits.

"I mean, yeah, that's my job," Seidenberg said. "I haven't really been scoring, doing anything offensively. I enjoy playing tough minutes and doing the little things, just like everybody else in this room. We all thrive in tough games."

Seidenberg, who will turn 32 on July 18, missed the first four games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers because of injury.

"You hate watching games," he said at the time. "You hate not being a part of it."

Seidenberg sustained a lower-body injury on his first shift of Game 7 in Boston's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He attempted to return to the ice after getting hurt but was incapable of continuing. He lasted 37 seconds in that series-clinching 5-4 overtime win.

"You don't hear about [Seidenberg] that much, but all the little things he does out there go a long way, especially this time of the year," Bergeron said. "We recognize it in this room and I'm sure that's what only matters to him."

With all that Seidenberg can do for a team in the defensive zone, it's a wonder he didn't stick with one of four former employers prior to his trade to the Bruins from the Florida Panthers in March 2010. He spent 92 regular-season games with the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that drafted him in 2001, before playing 66 games with the Phoenix Coyotes and 137 with the Carolina Hurricanes.

After 62 games with the Panthers, he was traded along with defenseman Matt Bartkowski in exchange for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a draft pick.

"What Dennis Seidenberg brings, we like," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's about a guy who comes to play hard every night. Our scouts have done a great job detecting the fact that the bigger the game, the better he was. His size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), strength and battle fit everything that we're all about."

In 2010-11, Seidenberg scored a career-high 32 points in the regular season then 11 more in the playoffs when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. He became the third German-born player to hoist the trophy, along with Uwe Krupp and Randy Gilhen.

"Just by the little details he does on the ice and by the way he blocks shots, the first pass is a great pass on the tape," Bergeron said. "It's about the little details that go unnoticed, but not by us and it goes a long way."


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