- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- During his absence from the lineup because of a lower-body injury, Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's presence was missed. He and defensive partner Zdeno Chara are considered a top shutdown pair in the league, and when they're not together, it can have an effect on the Bruins.
No doubt, the young defensemen who stepped up in this series -- Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton -- produced in a big way, but having Seidenberg's experience and abilities back helped the Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday night at TD Garden.
Seidenberg was injured during Game 7 of the quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs and has been trying to return, but the Bruins wanted to make sure he was ready before giving him clearance.
"We made sure that when he came back, he was ready to come back. It was a close call, to be honest with you, in Game 4; it really was a close call," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We almost had him back and we chose to wait one more game. But he was ready to go. What he does is he just adds some stability to our back line. Every year in the playoffs he's been one of our best defensemen; he really rises to those occasions. We were happy to have him in this game tonight because we knew how tough it was going to be."
Seidenberg logged 23:37 of ice time in his return.
"I felt good. It was nice to be playing again and trying to help the team. It was a good feeling," he said.
It's rare to see him knocked off his feet during a game, but twice on one shift in the second period the Rangers' Chris Kreider dropped the Bruins' defenseman.
"They were hard hits. I'm fine," Seidenberg said. "He's a thick kid, and usually that doesn't happen, but I just lost balance. It was a good hit. I lost a little bit of my breath. That came back a little bit later, but for the most part, again, it was a good hit. You just have to shake it off and keep going."
After missing the first four games of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (lower body) returned to the lineup for Game 5.