Why the Bruins still fear Dennis Wideman
|04.12.12 at 12:15 pm ET|
Every Bruins fan remembers how ugly it ended for Dennis Wideman in Boston. Certainly, the talented defenseman does.
He was one of the scapegoats of the collapse against the Flyers in 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
He was the player fans came to the Garden to boo, expecting turnover after turnover, leading to scoring chance after scoring chance for the opposition. It wasn’t all bad as Wideman had back-to-back 13-goal seasons for the Bruins in 2008 and ’09, registering an impressive plus-32 on-ice rating in ’09. But the wheels fell off the next season. He had only six goals in 76 games and a minus-14. Things got even worse after a trade to Florida. He was minus-26 with nine goals in 61 games.
But look further and you see that Wideman can still do one thing – score on the power play. Eight of his nine goals with the Panthers came on the power play. In his two biggest productive years in Boston, he was instrumental on the power play with Zdeno Chara, scoring 15 goals.
But he’s been rejuvenated in Washington. He played in all 82 games this season for the Caps, with 11 goals and 35 assists and is on the No. 1 power play unit with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. This year, he scored four of Washington’s 41 goals on the power play, accounting for 10 percent of the production.
So now, the offensive defenseman is in a fascinating position for revenge on all those who unleashed their venom on him. Wideman returns as one of the key cogs of the Capitals’ power play as Washington takes on Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“You would hope that when the player was here, we worked on making him a better player,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He is a good player. I think he’s been a good player for years now. I know he had a tough outing here near the end but we still felt that when Dennis still here, we felt he was our best puck-moving defenseman at the time.”
As for his nightmarish 2010 end in Boston?
“He had a bit of tough year and all of sudden fans turned on him a little bit and it got a little bit out of control but he’s still a good player,” Julien said. “You just have to look at his stats this year and look what he does on their power play. He’s a still puck-mover, still a great offensive defenseman that has a lot of qualities to his game.”
Washington comes in after finishing 18th out of 30 teams on the power play this season, converting at a 16.7 percent clip.
“There’s got to be an element of respect there when you look at the players that they have on their power play. Now, Backstrom being back, who’s actually a pretty good playmaker, will certainly help their power play get better,” Julien said. “But they have the shooters, you know, Green and Wideman can shoot the puck well. Ovechkin as we know, Semin ‘ they’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot the puck on that power play. We just need to respect that and continue to take our penalty kill as serious as we have in the past playoffs and continue to do a good job.”