Homecoming for Boston boys
They are at polar opposites in paydays, but not in production. Tuesday night, former Bruins’ defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk will be side by side once again on the TD Garden blue line.
But adorned in orange and blue – not black and gold after hoisting Lord Stanley together in 2011.
Boychuk, the beloved Bruin, whose youthful brawn endeared him to the Hub of Hockey from 2008-2014 before former general manager Peter Chiarelli traded him to the Islanders for a bag of pucks in the form of low draft picks. Seidenberg, the cagy veteran who entered the NHL from his native Germany in 2002 and played in Boston from 2009-2016 before current GM Don Sweeney decided to buy out the remaining two years of his contract last summer.
The 32-year-old Boychuk struck gold with a seven-year, $42 million deal two years ago; Seidenberg, at 35, a bargain one-year deal for one million.
“Coming back here for the first time was tough for me,” Boychuk said after the morning skate and about likely Seidenberg emotions. “Such good memories and such a good place to play. I’m sure he’ll feel that. I still feel it but yeah [it gets easier] for sure playing against your former team and teammates.”
“It will definitely be different being on the other side after being here quite a few years,” Seidenberg offered, “but it’s all about getting the two points.”
Getting two points has been a difficult chore for the talented Islanders who went to the second round of last spring’s playoffs with high expectations for 2016-17. But stats find Seidenberg among the most productive thus far on the cellar-dwelling Isles, not to mention the intangibles. In 24 games, he has 4-6-10 with a sparkling team-best plus-9.
“He started off offensively,” Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano said about the demure Seidenberg. “For me, it’s about his leadership. Even though he’s new, he has the ability to speak up especially the young guys or to our D or the room in general. He’s come in and done a great job about relating the message.”
“I jump on at the right times,” Seidenberg said about his successes thus far. “It’s a stat that goes the right way or the wrong way pretty quickly. I’m on the right side right now. It’s always about trying to keep the puck out of our net. It’s all about playing the system and playing your role and all will be fine.”
“I think for all of our D it’s about getting that fourth man up on the rush,” Capuano said. “When we don’t exit the zone we get in trouble. The last couple weeks our production has gone down.”
While Boychuk matches Seidenberg’s 10 points – but in 30 games – his plus-minus is considerably lower at minus-1.
“For Johnny, he’s got a great shot and just needs to continue to play hard, play physical and use that shot when he can,” Capuano added.
Boychuk gets to lay his 227 pounds on former teammates and unload his cannon on Tuukka Rask Tuesday night. Seidenberg, apparently healthier and stronger than Bruins management thought, gets to play his steady and heads-up role off the opposing bench.
“Johnny definitely helped me out quite a bit in the beginning,” Seidenberg said about his assistance in the New York transition.
They’ll be attempting to do the same Tuesday night.
As for the long haul?
“We love it here,” Seidenberg said about Boston and his eventual retirement. “We still have our place, it’s a great city. It’s always an option [to live here].”