BOSTON – When the Bruins win a big game, you can usually find Dennis Seidenberg in front of his stall after the dressing room opens with his chin in the air and his chest puffed out ready to answer questions as one of team’s proud veteran leaders.
That pose is usually no different after a difficult defeat.
Tonight was a particularly hard one for Seidenberg to swallow, as it was the Bruins defenseman’s giveaway in the neutral zone that directly led to Dustin Jeffrey’s game-winning goal in overtime.
Pittsburgh won 3-2 at TD Garden and ended Boston’s winning streak at seven games.
Seidenberg wasn’t immediately available after the loss, but in the blink of an eye he appeared from the players’ lounge and made his way to a central area of the room to answer for his error. It’s easy, almost too easy, to hide from the masses in the Bruins’ room. But that’s not Seidenberg’s style.
When it comes time to vote for the Bruins’ most stand-up guy, Seidenberg should certainly poll high.
“I made a very nice pass to the wrong guy. … They battled back and I gave the puck away and got caught flat-footed and they scored. It’s not fun,” said Seidenberg with a mostly stoic but somewhat bitter look on his chiseled face.
“Well, [I] saw [Michael Ryder] right behind me got [ahead of me] and [Ryder] was turning to look at me and the other guy was still turning,” he continued when asked to describe the game-losing play. “Right when I passed it, [Jeffrey] looked. I made a beautiful pass [to Jeffrey] … and just he caught it with speed and it was kind of the end of our shift and I got caught flat-footed, and he scored.”
Seidenberg stayed available until every last question was answered. That’s the type of character the Bruins need from one of their core players, and it’s something they might’ve missed last spring in the playoffs. While everyone’s attention is always focused on the absence of David Krejci – and he was definitely missed against Philadelphia – Seidenberg could’ve definitely helped the cause as well.
In a game that might as well have been a playoff game based on the physicality and intensity, Seidenberg was enjoying a bang-up night before his gaffe. He was credited with a game-high seven hits and four blocked shots during his 24:04 of ice time. He fired one shot on net and had two other shots blocked by Penguins players.
With Boston basically down to five defensemen – rookie Matt Bartkowski skated just 9:06 – and skating in their fifth game in eight nights, just three days removed from their return from a two-week road trip, the Bruins could be forgiven if their legs were worn down and their minds drained. Those factors could’ve all taken their toll on Seidenberg and fellow blueliner Johnny Boychuk, whose own miscue led to a Pittsburgh 2-on-1 and the first Penguins goal that tied the score at 1 in the second period.
While no one in the Boston room was taking the excuses that were hanging off the vine waiting to be picked, they weren’t throwing the blame around either.
“Everybody’s been there at least once in their career that they turn the puck over,” said Boychuk about Seidenberg’s play. “That’s just the way it goes. I’ve done it before. It just so happened that we did get a point, so you can’t really burn the guy. He played a good game. The guy did a good job picking the pass off. That stuff happens.”
“It’s a play, it’s a mistake, things happen,” forward Shawn Thornton noted. “He played unbelievable for us all night. Four-on-four, the guy read it right. It could’ve been anybody. He doesn’t take any blame. There was a lot of stuff that happened before that that made that game the way it was. There’s no fault on 44, that’s for sure.”
Seidenberg didn’t want to be forgiven. He wanted the play back. He wanted to turn his teammates’ efforts to tie the game and get it to the extra session into two points in the standings rather than one.
He made that quite clear by assuming the same posture while speaking after his flub that he flaunts after someone on the Bruins has just scored the winning goal or made a similar game-ending mistake.
By his actions, Seidenberg set the standard for accountability among the Bruins, which could contribute to their future success as much as his passing and shot-blocking.