February 1, 2012

Sly Seidenberg makes neutral zone a danger zone

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON -- Wayne Gretzky imposed his will on opposing defenses from behind the net. Mark Recchi earned his paycheck camping out in front of the crease. The red line might not be Dennis Seidenberg’s sweet spot, but the Bruins defenseman is starting to make a habit of making magical things happen from center ice. 

For the second time in as many seasons, Seidenberg scored a rare, long-distance goal from halfway across the rink. In December of 2010 he victimized Lightning goalie Mike Smith. This time around, his slapper eluded Senators goalie Craig Anderson, sailing past defenseman Matt Carkner, off Anderson’s stick and into the back of the net.

“Well it was kind of a riser,” Seidenberg said when asked to assess what happened. “I don’t know if it was a lucky bounce but the way it came off my stick it bounced off the ice and was kind of bouncing off the ice. It was tough for him to handle and somehow went in.”

Anderson’s coach, Paul MacLean, said no one would be pointing any fingers and that such things are bound to happen once in a blue moon, but the Sens netminder knows he’s absolutely got to make that stop – especially with the game knotted at 3-3 at the time.

“It took a one bouncer and then, yeah, it hit my stick and went in,” said Anderson. “So, it’s just one of those things where I have to make the save and at the same time it took a crazy bounce.”

What makes it even more crazy is that Seidenberg nearly pulled off the same feat in the opening frame.

“I think it was in the first period. He took a shot and the puck just took a hop,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It’s funny, but when he took the shot at the net, I looked closely, because somehow, you know, you had that feeling that it would be an interesting shot, and the puck seems to just take a quick bounce both times that he shot it from the red line. I mean, it’s a winning goal tonight, so we’ll take it.”

Boston’s bench was certainly overjoyed, not just because Seidenberg buried the eventual game-winner but the fashion in which he did it.

“Well we’re very excited, we kind of laugh about it and you get excited,” Brad Marchand said of the team’s reaction at the time. “You don’t expect it to happen very often, but when they go in they’re nice.”

Joe Corvo, Seidenberg’s defensive partner who picked up an assist on the tally, broke down Seidenberg’s line of thinking on the play – a strategy he replicated last season when fooling Smith into creeping out of his crease before firing the puck on net.

“Yeah, the idea, if you’re playing a goalie that cheats, that’s cheating on the rims, is to act like you’re dumping in the corner and then put it on him,” said Corvo. “I don’t think he was going for a rim there, it just took a skip there at the end. It’s always a possibility (laughing). I think that’s why d-men probably take so many shots from just inside the red line. It’s always a possibility.”

The rest of the league’s crop of netminders better have been paying close attention to the blunders of both Smith last season and Anderson on Tuesday night at TD Garden. Otherwise, the ever-sly Seidenberg might continue making the neutral zone a real danger zone.

Check out Seidenberg's tally from center ice: