When Dennis Seidenberg was acquired on March 3, 2010 from Florida along with Matt Bartkowski, he was supposed to fill the void for the departed Derek Morris. The Morris trade was somewhat puzzling, considering he was arguably the Bruins' second-best defenseman, posting 25 points in 58 games with Boston.
The German-born Seidenberg was known as a heavy hitter. He was responsible for Patrice Bergeron’s second concussion in 2008 with a thunderous open-ice hit. He signed with Florida as free agent in 2009, playing 62 games for the Panthers before being traded to Boston. Unfortunately, Seidenberg’s first season as a Bruin was cut short due to a freak wrist injury due to as stray skate. He finished with nine points and plus-9 rating in 17 games.
The 2010-2011 campaign turned out to be one of Seidenberg’s best. Seidenberg established himself as the No. 2 defenseman on the Bruins behind captain Zdeno Chara. He matched his career high of 32 points that he set the previous season between Florida and Boston.
Seidenberg was rewarded with his defensively sound play by setting a career high for on-ice average (23:33). He was an integral part of the Boston Bruins defense that surrendered the second fewest goals in the NHL.
The NHL playoffs is the stage where lesser-known players take their game to new levels. Seidenberg and all his Bruins teammates struggled in the first two games versus Montreal going down 0-2 in the series. Claude Julien and his staff then made a decision that changed the complexion of the Montreal series and rest of the Bruins’ Cup run. He paired Seidenberg with Chara, constructing a dominating defensive pairing.
The Bruins went on to win four of the next five versus the Canadiens, winning the series in seven. Boston would the sweep the Philadelphia Flyers, yielding only seven goals in four games. The dynamic duo of Seidenberg and Chara would have to square off against the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning with the likes of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.
Seidenberg was asked to do it all: five on five, power play and the penalty kill. He did them admirably and exceptionally well. When the Bruins needed a thunderous hit, he delivered. His open-ice check on Martin St. Louis in the decisive Game 7 put the hometown crowd in frenzy and calmed the nerves of his teammates. The Bruins would go on to win 1-0 punching their first ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals in 21 years.
The top scoring team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks, now loomed on the horizon. Seidenberg and the rest of the Bruins defensive corps would have to play their “A” game to have a chance against the high-powered Canucks. The defensive pairing of Seidenberg and Chara would now have to shut down the potent twin tandem of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They combined for 194 points in the regular season.
The Bruins defense played well in the first two games but late defensive breakdowns put them in another 0-2 series hole. The first line of the Sedins and Burrows accounted for three of the four Vancouver goals in the series. The Canucks capitalized on having the last change. However, Boston would be a whole different story. The physicality and hatred between the two teams reached a fervor pitch.
Dennis Seidenberg brought the body and dropped the gloves in helping to set the tone for the remainder the Cup Final.Seidenberg’s fight with Ryan Kesler was an oddity for a Finals game. Seldom do two combatants square off with so much on the line. However, Seidenberg and the rest of the Bruins had to impose their physical will on Vancouver. And they did just that.
Boston would win three of the next four games, outscoring Vancouver 13-3 (23 to eight goal advantage for the series). Seidenberg and Chara would shut down the formerly potent line of the Sedin twins and Alexandre Burrows. The Vancouver first line combined for four goals, four assists with a minus-16 rating. On the flip side, Dennis Seidenberg had three assists and was a plus-4 in the cup final.
Everyone expected Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas to showcase their all-star skills on the NHL’s biggest stage, but Dennis Seidenberg raised his game to a new level.
He was a physical beast and ice time work horse. He averaged more than 27 minutes a game in the playoffs more than any Bruins defensemen (Chara averaged about 26 minutes a game). Seidenberg only trailed teammates Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara in playoff plus/minus with a plus-12. For a defenseman, plus/minus is what GAA is for a goaltender. This stat is the true measuring stick of a player's performance in his defensive end.
To use a football analogy, Seidenberg became the NHL equivalent of a “shutdown” corner. Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara was on the other side and Tim Thomas was at safety. Defense does indeed win championships.