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Wideman’s season an odyssey 05.19.10 at 8:31 pm ET
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The roller coaster that the Bruins went through in 2009-10 was mirrored by one of their key players. It seemed as Dennis Wideman went, so went the Bruins and for a good stretch of the season Wideman was not going.

The defenseman played three less games than he did a year ago (79 to 76) but scored 20 less points, down to 30 from a career high of 50. When he is going good, Wideman can be an assist machine with his dangerous shot from the point, second only to probably Zdeno Chara in terms of effectiveness (Johnny Boychuk has Wideman beat in terms of pure power). He has never scored more than 13 goals in a season, not bad for most defenders especially considering the scheme that coach Claude Julien employs. Julien has been activating defensemen from the blue line in the last two years more often but the way the plays work is that it is usually from the off point that will crash the net while Wideman takes the shot. That makes for some nice helpers along the way but not always finding the back of the net.

After a decent start to the year, Wideman started having trouble after the Winter Classic. He registered a -12 and only four points between Jan. 1 and the Olympic break, with two of those points coming in the final game against Florida. It was no coincidence that the Bruins were absolutely wretched during that period. Wideman was a ghost on the ice except when he appeared just so he could turn the puck over at the blue line. Julien relies on his defense to get pucks at the net and play solid on the point and on the walls and Wideman was doing none of that.

“I think the last part of the season I played really hard, I played quite a bit better,” Wideman said. “The middle of the year got a little frustrating and I let it get to me a little bit too much. Going through a couple things and injuries and stuff like that and it just kind of compounded and lost some confidence and it took me a while to get it back.”

Wideman said that the injuries were not serious. A little bit of a shoulder tweak here, a wrist there. They bothered him but he said he did not miss any games because of them. Really, it was all about confidence, or lack thereof.

“Just some nagging stuff that I didn’t really talk about. Just some nagging stuff,” Wideman said. “I wasn’t really that just lost confidence and got completely frustrated with everything that was going on and had a problem rebounding. Then there was all the other stuff that was going on with throughout the year and just got frustrated and lost confidence.”

It was hard for the media to ignore Wideman in January because his play was just absolutely terrible. It came down to the point where Julien, who had mildly dissed to the media after practice one day, refused to answer any more questions on the defender or any other “specific questions on players.” That moratorium lasted all of one day as Julien ended up answering a question from this reporter about Trent Whitfield the next day, but the incident was the highlight of the low times for Wideman and the Bruins. For Wideman specifically, he knew things were going bad when the denizens of TD Garden started giving him the Bronx cheer.

“Probably the first game that I started to get booed there [was the worst],” Wideman said. “Around December at the end or something like that.”

Somewhere after the March 18 game against the Penguins, things started to pick up for Wideman. He still had a turnover problem but the hits were coming back (though he not known for his especially physical play) and observers could tell that he was more mentally in it when he started throwing his body around to block shots at the point. He picked up a couple points against Calgary in late March and ended up playing big minutes along with the other surviving defensemen when Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart went down and Andrew Ference was still not healthy enough for games. Wideman’s confidence grew. He doesn’t know how, it just did.

“I don’t know, just played a couple good games and forget about the stuff that happened before and just build on it and build on it and a couple months stretch things just started to turn around,” Wideman said.

In the playoffs, Wideman was one of the Bruins top players. He blocked shots, he took shots, he moved the puck through the neutral zone. His signature play (which would have been more of a defining moment if the Bruins had one the game) was in Game 7 against the Flyers when he took a broken breakout, reset the rush himself and took the puck into the offensive zone, all the way down to the corner and centered it to Milan Lucic who was crashing the net for the goal and a 3-0 lead in the first period.

It was the last goal the Bruins scored all season.

Wideman ended the playoffs as almost a point per game player with 12 (a goal and 11 assists) in 13 games. He was a +3 though that number was higher before the Flyers comeback.

There are whispers that Wideman could be traded. That could be good for the Bruins, especially after the season he just had. But, when the good Wideman is around, the Bruins are definitely better. He knows he cannot control it but understands if that is the direction that Peter Chiarelli wants to go.

“I can’t control that. If he wanted to trade me then that is part of the game,” Wideman said. “It is never fun being traded, you want to stay with the team you are with, I love it here and I like Boston. I don’t want to but I can’t do anything about it if that is what the organization decides to do.”

Read More: Dennis Wideman,
Sturm undergoes successful knee surgery 05.18.10 at 2:57 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli issued a press release Tuesday afternoon announcing that forward Marco Sturm underwent successful surgery to repair his right knee. The surgery entailed ACL reconstruction, MCL repair and partial lateral meniscectomy and was performed by Dr. Peter Asnis at Massachusetts General Hospital. Sturm injured the knee in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals when he pushed off to make a check on Flyers defenseman Matt Carle and torqued his knee on the ice at TD Garden. Sturm is expected to rehab for six months.

Here is the press release from the Bruins media relations staff:

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Marco Sturm underwent successful surgery on his right knee. The surgery ‘€” which entailed a right knee ACL reconstruction, MCL repair, and partial lateral meniscectomy ‘€” was performed by Dr. Peter Asnis at Mass General Hospital.

Sturm sustained a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his right knee during the first period of the Bruins-Flyers game on Saturday, May 1 (Game 1).

His expected recovery time is an estimated six months post-surgery.

Sturm is a veteran of 855 NHL regular-season games and has registered 234 goals and 232 assists for 466 points in his career. The 31-year-old tallied 22 goals and 15 assists during the 2009-10 season, marking the seventh time in his career he surpassed the 20-goal plateau. He played in seven playoff games this season and has scored eight goals and tallied 11 assists in 52 postseason games for San Jose and Boston.

Read More: Marco Sturm, Peter Chiarelli,
Boychuk has little doubt he will be back 05.18.10 at 2:42 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk is the type of guy who will be laughing, joking and making sarcastic remarks when things are going well. When things are not, he tends speak quietly about what went wrong.

Boychuk was definitely quiet Tuesday morning during breakdown day at TD Garden. He becomes a Category 6 unrestricted free agent this offseason even though he does not technically have the service time in the NHL to make him unrestricted. Category 6 is a rare designation for guys who normally spend most of their time in the minors and then become free agents after their initial contracts expire. To be a restricted free agent, which would make general manager Peter Chiarelli’s job in keeping him in Boston much simpler, Boychuk would have needed to complete 80 career games this year and be under the age 26, marks he missed by 12 games (including playoffs) and sixth months. Boychuk spent most of five seasons in the minors before coming to Boston and his progress towards becoming a productive NHL defenseman was hindered while he was in the Colorado system as it tried to make him into a dual defenseman/power forward. For a simple guy like Boychuk who likes to hit things and take big shots, forward is probably too complicated a position.

“Just try to keep it simple. Get the puck away try to turn pucks over, simple. I got more comfortable and then tried to do a couple different things. Nothing drastic, I just wanted to keep it simple,” Boychuk said. “I just wanted to get pucks to the net and keep it simple. Simple is my way, I guess.”

In terms of staying in Boston, Boychuk has little doubt that he will be back.

“Everybody knows that I want to be in Boston. So, I want to be here, it is not a big secret,” Boychuk said. “100 percent. I love it here in Boston. I want to be back.”

Boychuk said that he has not even thought about what would happen if another NHL team threw a lot of money at him come July 1. He hopes that it will not even make it that far.

“Well, they can’t talk to me before July 1. I hope it doesn’t go that long,” Boychuk said. “No talks but I am pretty sure that I am going to be back, I hope I am going to be back at least. So, we will see.”

The defenseman is going to take a short vacation and ship his truck back to Montana for the purpose of driving to his home in Edmonton where he will spend the summer. He said that he does not look forward to the 10-hour drive across the nothingness that lays between Minneapolis and the Rocky Mountains. Anybody who has driven through those plains would probably agree. In terms of the pack up, Boychuk still is a little stunned about the Bruins sudden exit at the hands of the Flyers and knows that, if he is back next year, the memory will light a fire under the team.

“I don’t even think I should be here packing up my stuff. It was weird packing my stuff last night to go back up [to Edmonton]. So much stuff to do now. Drive home, fly home. However I am getting home. Haven’t really had any time to watch hockey. Just packing up everything and try to get everything settled before we leave,” Boychuk said. “It is going to light a fire, that is for sure. Hopefully we take this next year and use it to our advantage.”

Read More: Breakdown Day, Johnny Boychuk,
Thomas says it is ‘too early’ to dwell on offseason 05.18.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas spoke about his upcoming role on the team after having been usurped for the No. 1 spot in the crease by rookie Tuukka Rask in the second half of the 2009-10 season. Thomas signed a four-year $20 million contract extension last summer and has a no-trade clause in his contract though the speculation is that general manager Peter Chiarelli will have no choice but to try and move Thomas’s contract. Thomas said on Tuesday morning that there are questions that he needs to answer but it is still “too early” to start coming to any conclusions.

“Too early. Those kind of thoughts are something that need to be thought over carefully and over a longer period of time and I haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet,” Thomas said. “Even if you are not playing at the end of the year you are still practicing with the team, you are still trying to get yourself in a position where you could help the team if you are called upon. So, I was busy doing that stuff and not thinking about, or at least coming to conclusions on the things you guys are asking me about. Of course they have crossed my mind because I am human and they have to, you know.”

Thomas said that he just has not had any time between the Game 7 loss last Friday and Tuesday morning to figure out how he wants to deal with the offseason.

“It is so early after the end of the season that I haven’t took the time yet. We have had these end of the year meetings, get our equipment, we have had some other activities. Over the next month I will let things kind of settle in my mind and come up with some of that stuff later, but not yet,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said that the 2009-10 season was a unique experience in his professional career. Coming from being the top goaltender on the best team in the Eastern Conference and watching his team, and his job, dissipate would be unique for any player.

“It was certainly different than any other experience I have had as a pro,” Thomas said. “It was challenging, you go through these types of situations and years and you just have to try and find the lessons out of them and find a way to make yourself a better pro goaltender and a better person.”

Read More: Breakdown Day, Tim Thomas,
Bruins 2010-11 salary breakdown 05.16.10 at 12:01 pm ET
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Here is a little primer for some of the end of season review we will be putting together. These are the salaries and approximate cap hits for the Bruins in the 2010-11 season. Peruse the list and you will find that the Bruins are well equipped to turn over this roster in the next couple of years if general manager Peter Chiarelli decides to do so (and he is still employed) as only Marc Savard is signed passed 2012-13. Next year the Bruins are looking at an approximate $46.14 salary cap hit with 18 players signed that count to the NHL roster but takes into account players that could spend time in the AHL next season.

Note: Restricted free agents (RFA), Unrestricted free agents (UFA).

Forwards

Marc Savard — $ 7 million ($5 million) — Last year 2013-14 UFA

Patrice Beregron — $ 5.75 million ($4.75 cap) — Last year 2010-11 UFA

Michael Ryder — $4 million ($4 cap) — Last year 2010-11 UFA

David Krejci — $ 3.75 million ($3.75 cap) — Last year 2012-13 RFA

Marco Sturm — $3.5 million ($3.5 cap) — Last year 2010-11 UFA

Milan Lucic — $4 million ($4 cap) — Last year 2012-13 RFA

Blake Wheeler — RFA

Daniel Paille — RFA

Mark Recchi — UFA

Steve Begin — UFA

Vladimir Sobotoka — RFA

Shawn Thornton —  UFA

Miroslav Satan — UFA

Brad Marchand — $.600 million ($.302 cap) — Last year 2011-12 RFA

Trent Whitfield — $.550 ($.202 cap) — Last year 2010-11 UFA

Zach Hamill — $.787 million ($.008 cap) — Last year 2010-11 RFA

Defense

Zdeno Chara — $7.5 million ($7.5 cap) — Last year 2010-11 UFA

Dennis Wideman — $4 million ($3.875 cap) — Last year 2011-12 UFA

Matt Hunwick — $1.55 million ($1.45 cap) — Last year 2010-11 RFA

Andrew Ference — $2.25 million ($1.4 cap) — Last year 2012-13 UFA

Mark Stuart — RFA

Johnny Boychuk — UFA

Dennis Seidenberg — UFA

Adam McQuaid — RFA

Andrew Bodnarchuk — RFA

Jeffrey Penner — $.688 million ($.031 cap) — Last year 2011-12 RFA

Goaltender

Tim Thomas — $6 million ($5 cap) — Last year 2012-13 UFA

Tuuka Rask — $1 million ($3.2 cap) — Last year 2011-12 RFA

Read More: Peter Chiarelli,
Flyers help Bruins make dubious history 05.14.10 at 9:33 pm ET
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Summary — The Flyers became just the third team in the history of the National Hockey League to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win a seven-game series, in the process coming back from a 3-0 first-period hole to score four straight goals to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-3 win over the Bruins at TD Garden on Friday night.

Tuukka Rask was the loser for Boston, allowing the four Flyers goals on 27 shots. Michael Leighton overcame a shaky first period to put the clamps down on the Bruins season with 25 saves. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner at 12:52 in the third period on the power play after the B’s were whistled for too many men on the ice.

The Bruins struck first (and, for that matter, second and third), jumping to an early lead eight seconds into a power play after Scott Hartnell went to the box for a high sticking call on Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone at 5:18 in the first period. Boston wasted no time, controlling the puck on the face off and getting a couple attempts on Leighton. The second — of the stick of Zdeno Chara — rebounded down to the right dot, where Michael Ryder sent it right back on the crease past a hopping Mark Recchi and the Bruins were off and running at 5:27.

Boston made it 2-0, again on the power play, at 9:02 when a broken rush through the neutral zone ended up in a reset by Dennis Wideman, who decided to take it all the way down the right wing into the corner and send it back towards the crease where Milan Lucic timed his crash perfectly to bang it past Leighton for the two-goal advantage before the first period was halfway over.

Leighton would let in a third straight Boston goal at at 14:10 as Lucic struck again when he turned a giveaway into a lamplighter when he rushed all the way down the right wing and let off a snap shot by the right faceoff dot that went five-hole and made TD Garden erupt.

But the Flyers, remarkably, refused to concede defeat. James Van Riemsdyk fought hard to the right of Rask, leveling Wideman and getting a broken-play dribbler under the net minder’s left pad for a soft goal that made it 3-1 at 17:12 in the first. It was Van Riemsdyk’s first career playoff goal in his second professional season (first in the NHL) coming out of the University of New Hampshire.

The Flyers made it a one-goal game early in the second period on an even strength play where Danny Briere was able to penetrate the Rask’s crease after Ville Leino put the puck deep. Briere did a spin-o-rama and put the puck across the crease, where Andrew Ference could not put a stick on it at the goal line and Scott Hartnell flipped it back over Rask at 2:49.

The comeback was complete when Briere struck on his own, this time with the assist from Hartnell at 8:39 of the second period. Briere came back down around the net and did a wrap-around on Rask that rattled through the net and back out the other side to tie the game at three. The play was reviewed but it was conclusive that Briere had put the puck in the net and Boston had relinquished another 3-0 lead in the series.

Three Stars

Simon Gagne — His Game 4 return from a broken toe made all the difference for the Flyers in this series as he scored his second game-winner of the series to complete the series comeback.

Danny Briere — Perpetual thorn in the Bruins side was instrumental in getting the Flyers back in the game as his goal and assist in the second period were the answer Philadelphia was looking for after it went down 3-0 in the first.

Milan Lucic — Two first period goals got TD Garden pumping as the Boston forward set the stage for the excitement that was to come.

Turning Point – When Briere and Hartnell teamed up to take over in the second period. The pair was able to bring the Flyers back from the brink as the Bruins went soft in front of Rask. The wily center and his large wingman were able to get deep into the crease twice to tie the game and give the Flyers a chance to win it in the third period.

Key Play — The Bruins took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 11:10 of the third period, which set the Flyers up to score the go-ahead goal by Gagne when he found the puck on the right dot in front of Rask for the wrist shot top shelf to bury Boston and its Stanley Cup dreams once and for all.

Read More: Danny Briere, Game 7, James Van Riemsdyk, Michael Leighton
Laviolette: ‘The question remains the same’ 05.14.10 at 12:50 pm ET
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The Flyers had a light, optional morning skate before Friday night’s Game 7 against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette insisted that nothing changes for his team heading into the biggest game of the season and that they are used to the pressure that this point playing “our fifth Game 7,” referring to the string of elimination games the Flyers have faced in coming back from a three games to none series deficit to force the ultimate game at TD Garden.

“We are in a familiar spot. It really is our fifth time that we have been faced with elimination and we are ready for this. The message hasn’t changed since Day 1 since I have been here to right now,” Laviolette said. “Everything stays the same, the meetings stay the same, the message is the same. What is expected is the same. It is important that we go our and do what we have been doing because, since Christmas time is has brought us a lot of success.”

Laviolette stressed that to win Game 7 the Flyers will need to have a good team effort in addition to the continued solid play of their stars like Chris Pronger, Mike Richards and Danny Briere. Pronger is a +1 with six points for the series, Briere is +2 with four goals and four assists and Richards has three goals and five assists at a -1.

“I feel like we are still here today because of what is in our room. A guy like Chris Pronger, not only has he proven it in the past, like you are talking about, but he has proven it already here,” Laviolette said. “Our team has been in survival mode. Mike Richards, a guy like Danny Briere steps up. Chris Pronger has played all those minutes. Guys who have proven they can get there and handle the pressure of an elimination game and not only handle it but excel in it.”

Yet, through the last three games some of the “grittier” player on the Flyers have stepped up such as Ville Leino (two goals and an assist) and Scott Hartnell (goal and an assist) who are a combined +7 as Philadelphia has made its comeback in the last three games.

“This morning we talked about how our entire team needs to be successful,” Laviolette said. “We rely on each other and it will be a team effort. If we go out and play the way we need to play to be sucessful tonight then the thing we will be talking about tomorrow morning is ‘what a terrific team effort that was.’ That is how we will find success tonight. It won’t be because of one player. Somebody has to score the winning goal. Somebody has to make the big save or block a big shot but in the end our best chance of success is through our entire group, the gritty guys.”

In the end, the question remains the same for these Flyers and Laviolette summed it up best when talking about the approach that Philadelphia has taken  to force the deciding Game 7.

“We really methodically went very slow. One game. Game 4 and here we are at Game 7 and the question still remains the same ‘do we think we can beat the Boston Bruins tonight?'” Laviolette said. “And, there is a belief in our room that our team is a good hockey team and we can win.”

Read More: Game 7, Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers,
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