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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
How do B's fans like Chiarelli's moves now?

By Scott Burnside

ATLANTA -- Got to figure Boston GM Peter Chiarelli wasn't the most popular guy in Boston after the NHL's trade deadline. His team was hovering around the playoff bubble, it couldn't score, and when the dust cleared on March 3, Chiarelli had added who?

Dennis Seidenberg? Who's that?

Three weeks later, we're guessing more Bruins fans are watching No. 44 and saying, "Hey, that dude looks pretty good out there."

Three weeks after the trade deadline and with less than three weeks in the regular season, Chiarelli is still holding onto all those draft picks. And it turns out, all the Boston GM did in acquiring the big blueliner from Florida is add a top-two defenseman who is logging more than 23 minutes a night for a Bruins team that opened up a three-point lead over Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with a 4-0 win Tuesday.

For much of the time since his arrival, Seidenberg has been paired with the Bruins' big man, captain Zdeno Chara. On Tuesday, no skater on either team matched Seidenberg's 25:05 in ice time.

"Dennis is just such a steady player and a steady defenseman," Chara said Tuesday after the Bruins had also moved to within a point of Montreal and Philadelphia with 10 games to play.

"He's just a smart player with the puck," said Chara, noting Seidenberg isn't afraid to play physical and is also quick to get the puck to the net. "And he's getting rewarded for that."

So are the Bruins, who gave up Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round draft pick to acquire Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski.

Seidenberg, playing for his fifth NHL team, registered an assist on the Bruins' first goal Tuesday and now has six assists in his past eight games. He also leads the NHL in blocked shots.

Seidenberg, 28, told ESPN.com he's found the transition to Boston to be surprisingly smooth. He's also pretty pleased to be playing with an Original Six team. "They've just taken me in," he said of his teammates.

Not that he was a complete stranger.

Seidenberg and Bruins forward Marco Sturm played together in Vancouver for the German national team. It was the second Olympic Games in which the two have played together. Seidenberg also helped set up the overtime winner for Carolina against Boston in Game 7 of their second-round series last spring. Not that he brings that up often in the dressing room.

Bruins coach Claude Julien put it simply after Tuesday's game: "We always knew he's good in big games, and these are big games. He's been a great addition for us."

Not that Bruins fans ever had any doubt. Right?