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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When the Boston Bruins trailed the Montreal Canadiens by two games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Bruins coach Claude Julien needed to do something to help the team survive.
A move Julien made in Game 3 of that series saved Boston's season, and now the Bruins are preparing for the Cup final against the Vancouver Canucks.
|Since being paired against the Canadiens in Round 1, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara have shut down the opposition's top scorers.|
When Julien made the decision to pair defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara on the blue line, everything changed -- in a hurry.
That pairing has completely shut down the opposition's top players in each of the three playoff rounds for the Bruins. But their task won't get any easier against the Canucks with the potent offensive tandem of twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The twins are slick, crafty and nifty.
But Boston's blueliners are big, strong, fast and have become a tremendous shutdown pair.
When Chara and Seidenberg are on the ice with the Sedins, it figures to be an entertaining battle, one that could decide which team wins the Cup.
"We've been talking about them for a while now because they have been that good," Julien said. "And they've been a great shutdown pair, they've logged a lot of minutes, obviously capable of logging those kind of minutes. They're both in great shape. They both have a lot of endurance, and obviously have been a key reason why we've had success.
"And I don't expect that to change. [Seidenberg] is one of those guys that just never seems to get tired. We're the ones having to pull him back because he constantly, every day, wants to work a little harder and harder.
"We're definitely pleased with those two and they've been big players for us in big games. They stepped up at the right time, so we hope that continues."
Seidenberg and Chara played their best game of the playoffs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Seidenberg logged a total of 27:57 of ice time, while Chara accumulated 26:44 as Boston completely shut down the Lightning's top players, including Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos, in a 1-0 victory that sent the Bruins to the Cup final.
Boston's shutdown pair will need to be even better against the Sedins.
"It's going to be challenging," Chara said. "We know they're good players, very skilled players. Just have to be always aware of them, where they are on the ice, and play them very tight, try to take as much as we can away from them."
The Sedins are not only teammates. They have played together their entire careers -- really, their entire lives -- which gives them a competitive edge because they know what the other one is going to do on the ice.
"That makes it hard and challenging to play against them," Chara said. "We just need to try to take as much away from them as we can."
Seidenberg said any time he would watch NHL highlights, it seemed the Sedins were always featured. It's obvious they have chemistry unlike any other teammates in the league.
"They understand each other on the ice and they know where the other one is all the time," Seidenberg said. "The most dangerous Sedin is the one without the puck. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
It's also going to be a challenge for the Sedins.
Their chemistry will be put to the test against Seidenberg and Chara. Both Sedins said the fact they don't play against the Bruins all that often will make it a little more difficult the first few games of the Cup finals.
|Daniel and Henrik Sedin, chatting during Tuesday's practice, know they'll face a tall order in dealing with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.|
If the Bruins are able to shut the Sedins' line down, the Canucks could be hard-pressed to get enough production from their other lines to have success.
"We don't see them that much. It's tough to say when you play them once or twice a year," Daniel Sedin said. "We'll get a good look at them [in Game 1] and see what happens.
"For our team, I think it's how we play. If our line doesn't score, it's going to be other lines stepping up. That's how it's been throughout these playoffs."
Chara specifically will present a major distraction for the Sedins.
"It's going to be tough for sure. He's a big guy," Henrik Sedin said. "We haven't played against him that much. Couple of games in the Olympics, then back in Sweden during the lockout a few games. He's spent a lot of time in the Eastern Conference, so we haven't seen him a whole lot.
"His size. He's got great reach out there. Never really gets out of position because he can use his stick to get pucks. I mean, it's tough to go around one-on-one, it's tough to be in the corner. I think his size is to his advantage."
And if the Sedins are able to get around Chara, or sneak out of the corner on him, then they'll have to deal with Seidenberg.
If you want to say that the Sedins have an advantage because they were born with it, it now seems Seidenberg and Chara were born to play together, too. And Boston's blueliners are a major reason why the Bruins are in the Stanley Cup final.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.