World-traveler Blake Wheeler hopes Bruins hit their stride on the road
|10.13.10 at 4:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Forward Blake Wheeler was among a small group of Bruins players who had never been to Europe prior to the team’s Belfast-Prague excursion that closed the preseason and opened the regular season. Though the team’s ultimate goal was to get four points out of the trip (they settled for two), the second-line winger sees the time the players were able to spend with one another as something that should benefit the team throughout the season.
“The guys are probably as close as you can get, between going to Vermont (for team building) and being over [in Europe] where you’re forced to be together for 12 days straight. Guys had a great time together, guys were together all the time, and it was great to see guys that maybe weren’t hanging out so much in the past all of a sudden going to dinner together and doing stuff like that. It was great to see that kind of team unity come out, and I think that’s one of the many perks of being able to go on a trip like that.”
Wheeler joked that with the team having so many days in between the Prague trip and Saturday’s game in New Jersey against the Devils, it feels like the Bruins, who don’t play at the until a week from Thursday, “don’t have a home right now.”
When the Bruins do play in that home-opener against the Capitals, they will be gracing the Garden ice for the first time in three weeks and one day.
“It almost seems unfair,” Wheeler said with a laugh. “You go on this long trip and then you start on the road again, but that’s the way the schedule is. It always makes up for itself, so you’re going to play an even amount of home and away games no matter what. It is what it is.”
Indeed, the Bruins will see dividends paid if they can push through the high number of away games early on, as eight of the team’s final 11 games of the season will be played at home.
Much has been made of youngsters such as Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron getting to spend time on lines with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi in practice or regular-season settings, but it should also be noted that both have now seen time with Wheeler. Seguin centered Wheeler while he was on the third line in the preseason, and Caron is now linemates with the third-year player. As Wheeler hopes his time developing is done, he’s more than willing to lend a hand.
“It almost feels kind of weird now, helping out some of the younger guys like [Jordan Caron], playing on our line, and even [Tyler Seguin],” Wheeler said. “Just king of giving them little tips. That was me not too long ago, so I think the learning curve has passed. Now it’s just all about going out there and letting it fly.”
The one-hour stop on Iceland wasn’t exactly the perfect opportunity to enjoy the land. Having just spent three and a half hours in the air, people were tired and there was only one duty-free shop in the airport that was open. Still, for someone who was capping his first trip to Europe, Wheeler made the most of it.
“It was pitch black,” Wheeler said as he recalled the fuel stop. “I can’t really paint too much of a picture. I took a picture though — on my iPhone, I’ve got the map thing. I’ve got there a dot there in Iceland. I’m a world traveler.”