When the National Hockey League was in limbo, one of the Bruins who went to Europe to play was veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Seidenberg suited up for Mannheim in his native Germany and played alongside his younger brother Yannic, a forward who is 2½ years younger.
Seidenberg logged 26 games, scoring 20 points. It was the first time he had returned home since he spent three seasons with Mannheim from 1999-2002 before moving on to the NHL.
“It was a lot of fun,’’ said Seidenberg, who is a crucial part of the Bruins’ back line. “It was totally different going back to the team. They have a new arena, it’s beautiful, and a new practice rink.
“But it’s all the same people working, so a lot of familiar faces. I got to play with my brother, which was a nice experience. We both had pretty big roles on the team.’’
Seidenberg, 31, said being able to play and practice with a team during the lockout was important in terms of staying in game shape.
“You feel good because you’re in pretty much game shape and that always helps,’’ he said. “There are still some adjustments I have to make, playing a little bit more physical again. Over there, it’s a lot of angling. Here, it’s a lot more one-on-one play and playing tough in one-on-one battles. There’s still work to be done but I feel good.’’
Seidenberg is serving as a bit of a mentor to Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton. The two have been partnered for now.
“He’s a good player, he knows the game,’’ said Seidenberg. “I maybe [give him] a few pointers here and there, but he’s a very good defenseman. He covers a lot of ground. It’s good playing with him. It’s fun to be in that role.’’
Hamilton is appreciative of all the help he has received so far.
“He’s helped me out a lot so far,’’ said Hamilton. “Obviously, it’s real easy playing with him because he’s so good. All the ‘D’ so far have been really nice to me. It’s just little things, what I can do better and helping me get adjusted to the different game here.’’
Coach Claude Julien said Hamilton can soak up a wealth of knowledge from Seidenberg and others.
“Any time a young player plays with a veteran, you can gain a lot, especially if the veteran is a good veteran that will share his experience and expertise with that player,’’ said Julien. “Help calm him down when maybe he gets running around a little bit or gets uptight, whether it’s on the bench or on the ice. Coaches do a lot, but a teammate with some experience can do a lot as well.
“You put those [rookies] with those guys you can trust. This is just a start. I don’t want anyone thinking it’s carved in stone that that’s his partner. You’re going to see probably throughout the year pairs moved around a little bit, but certainly he can benefit from the wisdom of those veteran players around him.’’
. . .
After a largely sloppy exhibition game against Providence Tuesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins got back to work Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena.
The practice was intense and energetic, and Julien said it was designed to help players take the next step as they prepare to open the season Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“It’s part of the plan moving ahead,’’ said Julien. “We ramp it up a little bit, guys are getting in better shape, so a little bit more on the battle side. It’s all part of hopefully preparing for Saturday.’’
One of the issues facing the coaching staff is how hard to push the team in a shortened training camp — at the risk of groin pulls, hip flexor strains, and the like.
“When you get to this stage, it is pretty delicate,’’ said Julien. “But there is a risk and reward and there’s no 100 percenters, I guess. You’ve got to do what you think is right for the team, and that may mean a couple of injuries.
“You hope it’s not, but you have to look at the big picture versus the small picture. We have six days here to get ready for the first league game and we’ve got to put together as much as we can, and we’ve taken the precautions of not having lengthy practices but at the same time, we ramp up the intensity and try to make the most of the time we are out on the ice.’’
When asked about roster cuts, Julien said a timetable has yet to be determined.
“I’m not sure yet,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a decision we’ll make here with management and decide how long, whether it’s Friday, whether we do it Saturday morning or tomorrow. We haven’t made that decision yet.
“With the intensity and battles and everything else that we have in practice, I don’t mind this kind of number because you get quality and at the same time you also get the rest that you need between reps.’’
One of the objectives going into Tuesday’s scrimmage was for the players to get a gauge of where they were in terms of their individual games.
“Everybody’s in a different boat here,’’ said Julien. “Some guys have been playing, some haven’t. I told the guys, ‘Make sure you understand by the end of the game what you felt is needed.’
“For some guys, it was their hands. They didn’t quite have their hands. For some other guys, it was certainly a little bit more conditioning. Other guys, it might have been timing.
“So there was a lot that could be done individually. As a team, it wasn’t a great game, but the one thing I know is in the second period, we were better than the first. The third period, we fell back three goals but we got ourselves right back in the game.’’