Few Bruins players conquered the Stanley Cup hangover better than Dennis Seidenberg.
And the veteran defenseman had more to overcome than nearly all of his other teammates considering his 27:37 of ice time per game in the run to the 2011 Cup championship was second only to Zdeno Chara, and by just two seconds.
Seidenberg’s level of play never faltered during the Bruins title drive and he managed to carry that over into the 2011-12 season. While every Bruins player hit some lulls during the failed title defense, Seidenberg dealt with fewer than most. He managed to get through a season with Joe Corvo as his regular partner with a plus-15 rating in 24:02 of ice time a night. And in the playoffs, when he again hooked up with Chara, Seidenberg did almost as much as you could ask against Washington’s big offensive guns.
While the Bruins are seemingly on an endless search for a “puck-moving” defenseman, Seidenberg’s acquisition and maturation has made sure the Bruins haven’t had to shop for a two-way No. 2 defenseman. There’s no reason to believe he can’t duplicate his last couple seasons at least a time or two more.
Regular season: 80 GP, 5-18-23, plus-15
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-2-3, plus-1
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 at a cap hit of $3.25 million
Regular season recap
Highlight: Boston’s overtime win in Phoenix Dec. 28 might’ve been its most brutal performance in a win all season. And many point to that game as the start of the Bruins’ midwinter mediocrity. Nonetheless, Seidenberg scored the game-winner 58 seconds into the extra session with a slap shot off former Bruins defenseman Derek Morris and past a screen by Chris Kelly. For the night, Seidenberg was plus-2 with three shots on goal.
Lowlight: The Bruins struggled against Carolina all season, and Jan. 14 in Raleigh Seidenberg endured a night to forget. He was minus-2, as he screened Tim Thomas on the game-tying goal and then made a terrible backhand giveaway on Jay Harrison’s game-winner in the third period. Carolina prevailed 4-2.
Playoff recap: At one end of the ice, Seidenberg teamed with Chara to keep Ovechkin under wraps. At the other end he scored a Game 5 goal, assisted on Chara’s Game 3 game-winner, and made several subtle offensive plays that didn’t show up on the score sheet. He was one of the few that had no reason to hang his head after the Game 7 defeat.
Grade: A-minus. Seidenberg could maybe put his shot to better use, especially with all the power-play time he gets. But his ability to play so solid at both ends, with physicality, and carry a weak partner most of the season made last season Seidenberg’s best as an NHLer.
Carnac predicts … Seidenberg will again anchor Boston’s second pair. He might even have to tutor one of the Bruins’ younger D prospects if one earns the ice time in training camp or later.