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Max Talbot stabilizes Bruins’ third line

Max Talbot and the Bruins’ third line made life difficult for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

Max Talbot, recalled on Wednesday, played for the Bruins on Thursday for the first time since Feb. 20. In 12:37 of ice time, Talbot didn’t attempt any shots. The puck didn’t spend much time on Talbot’s stick.

But by centering the third line between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak, Talbot contributed a whole lot more than his 0-0—0 numbers showed.

Talbot’s promotion and performance against the Red Wings allowed coach Claude Julien to move Ryan Spooner off the third line. Spooner played left wing on the No. 2 line with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.

The moves worked out for both units. Talbot’s line was on the ice for Pastrnak’s game-opening goal. Spooner and Krejci assisted on Eriksson’s third-period goal. The formerly top-heavy Bruins played with better balance and more reliability throughout their four lines, partly because of Talbot’s dependability in the middle.


Part of the Bruins’ problem during their 2-7-1 slump was the cratering of the third line. Its previous iteration of Spooner between Frank Vatrano and Lee Stempniak did nothing against Carolina on Tuesday. The line hadn’t been scoring. But it had also settled into puck-chasing, taking away any momentum the first two lines generated.

With Spooner out of the middle, the third line settled down against Detroit. Talbot and his wingers were on the ice for Andreas Athanasiou’s garbage-time goal. Otherwise, it limited Detroit’s puck possession and played stoutly in the defensive zone. The three forwards were on the ice for more shot attempts taken than allowed.

“You go down there, do your work, and do your job,” Talbot said. “Right now, I’m here. I just want to focus on Saturday, not talk about this year too much. It’s all about tonight’s win and go get the win on Saturday.”

Up and down year

Regardless of its outcome, this has not been a good season for Dennis Seidenberg.


The veteran defenseman was hurt in the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to New Jersey March 29. He has missed the last three games because of a lower-body injury. Seidenberg was last on the ice Monday for practice, a session he cut short.

What could be a season-ending injury bookends a start to 2015-16 that saw Seidenberg miss the first 14 games following back surgery.

“You never want to start the season missing the first [14] games and catching up,” Seidenberg said. “So it was a process getting back to where I wanted to be. Then it was just up and downs. I can always be better. I want to be better.”

In 61 games, Seidenberg has one goal and 11 assists while logging 19:23 of ice time per appearance. He has a 47.1 percent Corsi For rating, lowest among all Boston defensemen save for Joe Morrow (46.9 percent). When Seidenberg has been on the ice, he’s spent more time chasing the puck and scrambling around the defensive zone than driving the play the other way.

The steady and stable presence Seidenberg once brought has not been there as much this season as it was in years past.

Based on how this season has gone for Seidenberg, projecting how he’ll rebound in 2016-17 is not easy.

Seidenberg will turn 35 on July 18. He has two years remaining on his contract at $4 million annually. He has a no-trade clause.

At Seidenberg’s age, renaissances happen less regularly than with younger defensemen. He has appeared in 758 career games while playing a heavy, physical, and grinding style. It’s not the kind of approach that ripens with each passing season.


As well-conditioned as Seidenberg is, it was hard for him to merge back into regular-season highway-speed traffic. It’s been even harder for him to find traction with partners, which have included Morrow and John-Michael Liles following the trade deadline.

The Bruins’ priority is to repair the defense before 2016-17. Whether Seidenberg is included in that fix remains to be seen.

Connolly improves

Brett Connolly, out for the last three games because of a lower-body injury, made it through a two-man morning skate at TD Garden (Chris Kelly was his partner) without any issues. Connolly termed himself a game-time decision against Detroit but was not in the lineup.

The right wing was hurt against the Devils March 29 after playing just 3:17 in the first period. It’s the second straight year in which Connolly was hurt for part of the stretch run. He missed a month after being acquired from Tampa Bay last season because of a broken finger.

Connolly’s current injury is the latest blip in an unremarkable season. In 71 games, he has nine goals and 16 assists. He will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Marchand 7th Player

Prior to the game, Brad Marchand received NESN’s 7th Player Award, given annually to the Bruin who has exceeded expectations. Marchand also won the award in 2011 . . . Regular players from both the Bruins and Red Wings did not participate in a morning skate. The Wings arrived in Boston early Thursday morning following their 8 p.m. start in Detroit Wednesday against the Flyers . . . Vatrano moved down to serve as left wing on the fourth line. It allowed Landon Ferraro to switch to the right side. Vatrano had three shots in 10:06 of play . . . Eriksson scored his 30th goal at 0:45 of the third. It was the first time Eriksson hit the 30-goal threshold since 2008-09, when he punched in 36 with the Stars . . . Morrow and Zach Trotman were the Bruins’ healthy scratches.


Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.