Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Chara, Seidenberg a big chore for Canucks

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Dennis Seidenberg, right, does a little bit of everything for Boston ont he blue-line. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press) Dennis Seidenberg, right, does a little bit of everything for Boston ont he blue-line. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)

It is hard to believe that Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, who have combined to be one of the postseason's most sterling shutdown pairs, didn't start the playoffs together.

In Game 1 against Montreal in the first round, Boston captain Chara was with Johnny Boychuk. Seidenberg skated with Tomas Kaberle on the second pairing. The Bruins lost, 2-0. In Game 2, Chara was out because of a virus. The Bruins lost Game 2, 3-1.

So for Game 3, management and the coaching staff decided to pair their two best defencemen together. Since then, the Bruins have gone 12-4. In the 1-0 Game 7 win over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final, Chara and Seidenberg helped limit Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos to four total shots.

"They've been a great shutdown pair," Claude Julien said. "They've logged a lot of minutes. They're obviously capable of logging those kinds of minutes. They're both in great shape. They both have a lot of endurance. They've been a key reason why we've had success. I don't expect that to change."

That Chara has been his usual shutdown presence is no surprise. The Norris Trophy finalist is averaging 28:17 of ice time per game. Because of the Bruins' woeful power play, Chara has rotated from his usual position on the point - he likes to bring the hammer down on the league's hardest shot - to in front of the net.

But Seidenberg might be playing even better than Chara. Seidenberg is averaging 28:22 of ice time per game, five seconds more than Chara. Seidenberg has 55 blocked shots, most of any postseason player. In Game 7 against the Lightning, Seidenberg blocked a game-high eight shots.

"You don't really practice shot-blocking," Seidenberg said. "It's just something that comes naturally, I guess. If you want to block shots, you do it. There's no secret to it. You get in the shooting lane and try to put one of the shinpads in there or your pants. It's no secret. It's nothing special."

Chara and Seidenberg are sure to see most of their shifts against Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Burrows. They should also see action against Vancouver's No. 2 line of Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, and Mason Raymond. Given Kesler's preference to go to the front of the net, the rugged centre should have some epic battles against Chara.

Thomas vs. Luongo

Last year in Vancouver, both Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo started the Olympics as backups. Thomas was Ryan Miller's No. 2. Luongo was second in line behind Martin Brodeur.

When Brodeur staggered, Luongo took over and backstopped Team Canada to gold. Thomas remained on the bench, where he saw Sidney Crosby beat Miller for the golden goal.

This time, Thomas is looking for better luck in Vancouver.

"It's Vancouver versus Boston. It's not me versus Luongo," Thomas said. "He's a part of their team, I'm a part of my team, and we both have an impact on how the game goes. I'm playing against Vancouver's forwards and defensemen. He's playing against Boston's forwards and defensemen. Having said that, I watched the last game he played there against San Jose. He looked real good. He looked like he was on his game. Having seen that, I know I'm going to have to do a good job to give our team a chance."

In a small sample size, Thomas has been lights-out against the Canucks. Thomas is 3-0-0 against Vancouver with a 0.33 GAA and a .990 save percentage. Thomas stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 Bruins win on Feb. 26.

"There's no rhyme or reason to it," Thomas said. "It just happens to be the way it's worked out. But there's no use dwelling on the success you've had before. It's what success you can have moving forward over the next couple of games. That's what's going to be important."

Homecoming for Lucic, Recchi

Prior to the Bruins' Game 7 against Tampa, several of Milan Lucic's friends went out on the town in Vancouver. Their chant: "Let's Go Bruins."

After all, Lucic hails from East Vancouver, and has submitted many memorable moments in his hometown. Lucic starred for the Vancouver Giants. Lucic helped lead them to a Memorial Cup championship in 2006. Lucic was named tournament MVP. In 2006, when the NHL draft was held in Vancouver, Lucic was selected in the second round by the Bruins. During the regular season, Lucic scored the game-winning goal in the 3-1 victory at Rogers Arena.

"Obviously everyone's excited back home," Lucic said. "They're excited for us and for myself that we get the chance to play in the Stanley Cup final."

Lucic isn't the only British Columbia native playing for a Cup. Mark Recchi, who hails from Kamloops, could end his career with a third Cup. Recchi said he will retire if the Bruins win.

"We've learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys," Recchi said. "There's been some guys that have been through a lot, same as Vancouver. They've got some guys that been through a lot - some hardships, some good things. It's just a matter of going out, playing, and enjoying it. This is fun. It's exciting times for everybody."