On Tuesday night, the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1 on the back of yet another great performance by goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stopped 41 shots and was named the game’s top star. This win was a very important one for the Bruins, as it vaulted the team to a 14-6-1 record and into first place in both the Atlantic Divison and Eastern Conference.
But while this win was a very important one for the current situation surrounding the Bruins, they suffered what could turn out to be a death blow long term via an injury to Dennis Seidenberg. The 32-year-old defenseman left the game after playing only 1:01 of the first period, leaving the team in the precarious partner of not having a true partner for Zdeno Chara.
What the loss of Seidenberg also did was put the Bruins entire outlook going forward into doubt. Aside from Chara, Rask and forward David Krejci there is not a player on the team’s roster that is more vital to single game and long term success for Boston than the defenseman.
Since joining the Bruins midway through the 2009-10 season, he has not played less than 22:08 per game, and his gritty and hard-nosed style has defined the type of game the team has displayed. While they are never the most talented, they are always the most hard working and have been rewarded for this work ethic with a Stanley Cup championship in 2010, and a loss in 2013. This success has moved its way over into the early stages of the 2013-14 season, as Boston has allowed an NHL best 1.8 goals per game, and has now been put into significant doubt.
While surely it is premature to make any bets as to how serious the injury that Seidenberg suffered was, it is safe to say that if he did not return to the game, it is one that will keep him out for at least the near future. When one considers that just as recently as the 2013 playoffs the defenseman was playing through a lower body injury — and actually sat out multiple games of this playoff run — it is entirely possible that the injury could be an expansion upon one that was not healed properly before.
It also must be noted that his gritty style makes it such that he is always prone to injury, and that rushing back from an injury now could be detrimental in the future.
For the Bruins, these considerations of a long layoff for Seidenberg are not only worrying, they are downright scary. Losing the defenseman will force one of either Dougie Hamilton or Johnny Boychuk to step up to the first defensive pairing, in turn shaking up the whole balance of the team’s defensive unity. For a team that is entirely reliant on stopping their opposition from scoring in order to win games, having to remake their defensive unit on the fly is a recipe for disaster, and makes Tuesday night’s victory over the Rangers look like a loss in the long run.