Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Wideman’

2010-11 Season Preview

October 6, 2010

tyler seguin boston bruins

It’s been an odd day already today in Boston sports. The Patriots seemingly shooting themselves in the foot by trading Randy Moss. The Red Sox ownership getting into the EPL by spending $500 Million on Liverpool FC. There’s a weird buzz in the air an on the local sports talk airwaves, I tell you.

Seems like a great day to talk hockey, if you ask me.

The Boston Bruins finished off their preseason schedule yesterday with a sound drubbing of Liberec of the Czech Elite league thanks to a 5-point effort from Patrice Bergeron and a goal each from youngsters Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron. Feel free to pencil in each of them to the opening night roster because they will undoubtedly be there.

In my mind, much of the story in the early going might very well be about these two impressive rookies. Not since the team debuted Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov in 1997 has there been an infusion of youthful talent as exciting as what we’ll be seeing here this season. Granted, there are no guarantees of success for either of them but the outlook is good and they have shown in the preseason that they belong. With Marc Savard out and a clear dearth of scoring from the wing last season, it’s obvious that both are needed.

Here’s how I see the roster that will start the season. Line combinations based less on what’s happened in the preseason and more on how I configure them in NHL 11. What? 16 years of playing EA Sports hockey games doesn’t qualify me to be an NHL head coach? Whatever.

Forwards

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Blake Wheeler-Tyler Seguin-Mark Recchi
Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Caron
Shawn-Thornton-Gregory Campbell-Michael Ryder

Extra: Brad Marchand or Brian McGrattan

Defense

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Matt Hunwick

Extra: Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Not much in the way of surprises there. Not much in the way of controversy, either. The only real debate I can see is whether or not McGrattan sticks around as a spare forward, sending Marchand to Providence, or vice versa. Adam McQuaid seems the logical choice to be the bubble d-man but it’s possible Matt Bartkowski could leap over him on the depth chart with a strong preseason.

Actually, the defense is my one area of concern going into the season. At the top, it would seem like an area of real strengh with Zdeno Chara as the anchor but I have to admit to not being sold on the supporting cast. There remain a lot of questions concerning health, depth and ability. Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart have had some serious injury problems over the past few seasons, to the extent that I seriously question the sanity of the contract extension the latter received this past season from Peter Chiarelli, a three year deal for $2.25 each. Especially considering the Bruins’ current salary dilemmas. If either goes down, there are going to be some fresh faced youths having to be called into action because the defensive depth chart now, including McQuaid, consists of youngsters like Bartkowski, Steve Kampfer or someone like Nathan McIver. Yuri Alexandrov and many of the other prospects training in Providence just don’t have enough elite professional experience in their pockets to be totally NHL ready.

I could be wrong, though. We’ll certainly get the chance to see.

Salary Caps are a bitch, aren’t they, Pete? Pain in the ass.

It’s not an issue you can ignore when discussion the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins. We saw what the Chicago Blackhawks had to do in the offseason. Trade away half your team. No easy task but they managed to do it.

The Bruins, however, did not. Marc Savard was not traded. Tim Thomas was not traded. Michael Ryder (what? a guy can dream, can’t he?) was not traded. Silly contracts like Ference’s were added. It became a tight squeeze to fit under the cap and I ask, as a hardcore Be A GM Mode player on NHL 11, how can you not be prepared for that? Gotta think ahead. Avoid and get rid of bad deals that hamstring your ability to make moves. Add depth.

Wait. Did I say earlier there was no controversy or debate surrounding this year’s version of the team? What was I smoking?

Here are just some of the other issues the team will face this season.

  • Marc Savard. Will he ever be healthy again and if he is, how will they make salary room for him on the team. The elephant in the room is the idea that the star center’s absence might be a bit of a relief for the team because it puts them under the cap temporarily. Before he fell ill, Marc Savard was on the trading block because the Bruins needed salary space. Now they have it. Plus the chance to see what it will be like to play without him, if he ever gets traded which seems unlikely right now, doesn’t it? Makes you think about the seven year deal that he just signed, as well.
  • Tim Thomas. Sitting there as a clear back-up but making $5 million for the next three. I hope he plays well this season, for his own sake. If it means he can be traded then it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. My bet is he dying to show folks that he’s still one hell of a competitor no matter his age or what not. The Tank is nothing if not a battler. Meanwhile, Rask remains entrenched as the number one, a potential goaltending star on the rise.
  • Then, of course, there’s the sting of, oh, I don’t know, something we refer to around here as just THE WORST FUCKING LOSS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. EVER. Up 3-0 in the series. Up 3-0 in game fucking seven at home in your own building. Jesusfuckingchristalmighty. How to live that down when many of the core members of that monumental choke are still on this team. I mean, Dennis Wideman wasn’t to blame for it all, folks.
  • Which leads me to one last controversy. Let’s talk about the so-called Hot Seat.

  • Claude Julien. Should he be on it for what happened in the playoffs last season and in previous campaigns? I’ve heard him making the injury excuse but the truth is his team had a tendency to fall flat and let teams walk all over them at other times during the season, too. Remember Pittsburgh? It was a theme last year. Let us not forget how bad they were at times. Will there be a return of the sort of commitment the team needs to be successful including a commitment to team toughness? Is that a fault of the coaching?
  • peter chiarelli claude julien

    I don’t know. Some might think Chiarelli more deserves the hot seat for his salary cap bumbling and his recent failures in the trade market. Nathan Horton was a nice move and the Phil Kessel deal was inspired but there has been little else for the GM to hang his hat on. Cam Neely is now looking down on him and the Sword of Damocles might very well be raised if his vision of the team does not begin to materialize this season. I’d feel more comfortable leading the charge for Chiarelli than Julien right now but there may come a time when they both go if things get bad again.

    Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen, eh? Let’s watch Seguin and Charon and Rask and see if they can become real players. Same thing goes for Blake Wheeler and Milan Lucic, for that matter. Can they be consistent producers on the wing? Goals, physical play, everything. That’s what the team needs from them, of that I am certain.

    Starting this Saturday in Prague, we’ll get see what happens.

    It won’t be boring I don’t think.

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    First Fists

    September 24, 2010

    Okay, I know this isn’t the first Bruins scrap of the preseason (that would have been Adam McQuaid vs. Tim Conboy in the Habs game Wednesday night) but it’s the first video we have out there. Lane MacDermid, Providence’s most active brawler from last season, takes on Andrew Peters in last night’s exhibition against the Florida Panthers in Rochester.

    Bruins lose the game 3-2. Game winner to Dennis Wideman.

    Eeugh.

    Boychuk Signs

    June 24, 2010

    The Boston Bruins busy week continues.

    Joe Haggerty is reporting confirmation that Johnny Boychuk has signed a two-year contract extension with the B’s for $3.75 million. The signing was seemingly made possible, and one could argue necessary, by the trade of Dennis Wideman this week and it avoids letting the blossoming 26 year old defenseman go to unrestricted free agency on July 1st.

    Boychuk showed marked improvement all season and, when paired with Zdeno Chara when Dennis Seidenberg went down late in the year and into the playoffs, became an ongoing physical and offensive force. With a salary cap hit of only $1.8 per season and that sort of potential upside, it becomes a key, smart signing for the Bruins. It’s also evident that the team was a very attractive spot for Boychuk, perhaps something we can attribute to the agressive approach the new regime is showing this off-season.

    All good signs leading up to tomorrow’s crucial Entry Draft and the free agency period beginning next week.

    Elsewhere, the Sharks kept another talented potential free agent out of the market when they re-signed Patrick Marleau to a four year extension. Teammate Joe Pavelski, a restricted free agent, was also re-signed.

    This week has not been disappointing in term of action, has it? Chicago’s wheeling and dealing as they battle the salary cap. Coaches coming and going, signings, trades, Awards and, of course, a monster of a draft coming up to close out the week.

    I’m having fun, in case you haven’t noticed.

    Horton Wears A ‘B’

    June 22, 2010

    It has now been confirmed that RW Nathan Horton, along with F Gregory Campbell, have been traded from the Florida Pathers to the Boston Bruins for D Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in Friday’s Draft and a 3rd round pick in 2011.

    Wait.

    Did I just type that the Bruins traded Dennis Wideman? And got some serious, genuine NHL talent in return that will fill their most glaring need, size and scoring at right wing, in return?

    Someone pinch me. Someone not named Chippy, that is. She uses vice grips.

    Seriously, this looks like one hell of a deal for the Boston Bruins at first glance. Horton’s contract status might be the only thing that could take the shine off of it and I’ll do my homework on that as soon as I have some free time but, for now, a confident thumbs up on Chiarelli’s first big move of the 2010 off-season. And that’s just the beginning, likely.

    The juicy bonus to all of this, of course, is the Bruins now have Colin Campbell’s son on the team, too.

    Tell me we can’t have a little fun with that, eh?

    UPDATE: Apparently, Horton has three years left on his current deal at an even $4 million per. After that, he would be an unrestricted free agent. You might as well call the Bruins the $4 Million Dollar Club because that money is nearly identical to the pay of a number of other top forwards. Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Michael Ryder and now Horton all fall right around that same exact number. Marco Sturm at $3.5 and Patrice Bergeron at $4.75 are the exceptions amongst that group but even those numbers are pretty close.

    Elsewhere, in a busy day around the NHL:

  • The NHL announces the Class of 2010 Hall of Fame inductees and, for the first time, the list includes women. Cammi Granato and Angela James will both be inducted along with Dino Ciccarelli, as players. Unfortunately, the campaign to get Pat Burns in failed to produce results, which is a crying shame, really.
  • Pat Quinn moves down to an advisory role with the Oilers as the coaching reins get handed over to Tom Renney, his assistant. Taylor Hall, meet your new coach.
  • Some re-signings. Tomas Plekanec gets 6 years, $30 million out of the Canadiens. Mat Cooke, dirty fucker, gets 3 more years in Pittsburgh.
  • Scott Niedermayer retires.
  • Sharks say goodbye to Evgeni Nabokov.

    Hello Tim Thomas?

  • 21st Century Schizoid Men

    March 21, 2010

    Boston Bruins New York Rangers Scrum

    So today against the New York Rangers at home it seems the Bruins have decided to show up and play the type of game they were supposed to on Thursday against the Penguins. A ton of hitting, in your face play, a lot of emotion and fight on display. I don’t understand the rollercoaster highs and lows this team gives us in terms of effort on the ice, I really don’t.

    Of course, in response to this wonderfully scrappy play, the refs step in and start calling everything that moves and the entire first period becomes an erratic game of special teams play.

    Deep sigh.

    Still, hopes remain that we’ll see more of the feisty stuff in the second and third and that someone will get a chance to clean Sean Avery’s clock like you read about.

    _

    Highly entertaining, chippy game continues here with the Bruins showing some strong play. Excellent penalty killing and tight overall defense are carrying them in this one.

    Aside from all the great pushing and shoving and yapping, we’ve seen a penalty shot by Daniel Paille late in the period that he failed to convert. Shortyly afterward, however, Miro Satan buried an open side shot on a great pass from Andrew Ference for a 1-0 lead.

    Who is this Bruins team and where have they been all season?

    _

    Nice win for the Bruins over the Rangers when they needed it most. 2-1 the final, the game winner an improbable backhander from Dennis Wideman in the third. The schizophrenic season continues.

    Guess we’ll see who shows up in Atlanta in another match up of Eastern Conference Playoff Bubble Teams as the Thrashers are now closer to the 8th spot than New York, a team who looks to be fading a bit after this one.

    Onward ho.

    The Battle of HGW

    January 21, 2010

    Milan Lucic Fights Jared Boll

    In this corner, Ken Socrates and the Boston Bruins.

    In that corner, Gonz and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Let the games begin!

    Excellently entertaining match so far with both teams scoring goals and the game tied 1-1 after one period. Monster of a fight between Milan Lucic and Jared Boll with Boll maybe having the edge. You have no idea how hard that is for me to say.

    B’s goal, Michael Ryder, CBJ goal the recently acquired Chris Clark.

    Some great feistiness being showed by both teams.

    Onward!

    2-1 B’s after 2.

    The texts are flying fast and furious between Gonz an I as he tries to catch up, watching the game a little behind on DVR.

    Nice goal by Bergeron and one disallowed by the refs on CBJ’s Vermette, who kicked it in.

    Gonz: “So y’think Wideman needs to get that curse lifted off him?”

    Mike MIlbury is right now defending the beleaguered B’s defenseman, who’s struggles continue, reprimanding the fans for raining down the boos on him. While I seee how poorly he’s played I don’t think any of that will help, nor will Julien’s public remarks on the subject. Dennis Wideman is not the sort of player who is going to handle that level of pressure very well, trust me. He’s not going to play better under that spotlight, he’s going to play worse.

    You’re seeing the proof of that tonight.

    Well, a pretty ugly ending from a Bruins perspective. Give up the lead in the third, as Antoine Vermette gets back his soccer goal, and then lose it late on a phantom four minute high sticking penalty to Milan Lucic on a play where Anton Stralman’s stick nails Derek Brassard in the face and the refs call it on Looch.

    Then it’s that exact same stick that fires the shot that becomes R.J. Umberger’s PP game winner.

    Not quite what I would call Justice but, then again, the Bruins did little to earn a victory in the third. If not for a couple of hit posts by CBJ the poor call would have had no bearing on the game and the Jackets would have won it going away.

    Battle of HGW, January 2010 Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2.

    Taking Some Stock

    January 11, 2010

    So I’m of the mind right now that it won’t be until after the Vancouver Olympics that we can really sit down and evaluate what we have here this season. The Bruins are currently beset with key injuries and plagued by inconsistency and I just can’t get a feel for who they are going forward. There are a host of issues that need to be resolved and I’m thinking the four weeks between now and then will be enough time to sort some of it out.

    Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stuart will all be back. Andrew Ference will be on the horizon. Milan Lucic will be warming back into shape. They may finally be able to field a healthy, cohesive team that we can evaluate with Playoffs in mind.

    Because, right now, this isn’t the team that finished atop the Eastern Conference last year. Not even close.

    So what are the key questions?

    Well, for starters, the offense, of course. Now, the easy thing to do would be to point to the loss of Phil Kessel’s 36 goals and say, hey, there’s the problem. It’s not that simple, though. A healthy, productive Marco Sturm (if they allow him to play the right side, that is) is keeping pace with most of what Kessel would provide. No, the problems on offense go deeper than one guy I’m afraid and it doesn’t even begin with the forwards.

    The problems on offense stem from the defense.

    Despite the addition of supposed puck mover Derek Morris, the Bruins just do not have the typeof scoring support from the D position that they need. Zdeno Chara, for all his presence in his own zone and his 175 mph slap shot, is just not an ace point man like you need on the power play or, for that matter, at even strength. There is a knack for making plays at the blue line, getting low shots through to the net, finding open guys while moving laterally or, better yet, rushing the puck through the neutral zone and gaining the zone with speed, that he and the other guys totally lack. So much good stuff can happen off of what a good offensive d-man acan do on the rush or when set up in the zone and the Bruins are clearly missing that.

    Let’s face facts. Dennis Wideman is not the guy. Derek Morris is not the guy. Even Zdeno Chara is not the guy. 26 points is nice but 23 of those are assists and when you get the sort of ice time he does you could get 23 assists lying unconscious at center ice as the puck deflected off your prone body.

    So then the question becomes, can they get that guy? We’ll need to take a closer look at who might be available at the deadline but my intital guess is there isn’t anyone available that’s better than what theyhave now. Outlook: Grim.

    There are problems at forward, too. Michael Ryder is a total void at his position (maybe this is distracting him, I dunno). The center position, in flux all year due to injury, needs to become the strength it once was. Claude Julien needs to settle on some stable, functioning lines and let it be. He also needs someone else to assemble and coach his power play because, for all his skill as a defensive minded coach, he can’t seem to piece together the pp puzzle, can he? Blake Wheeler needs to keep his head on straight and remember where the net is and how to get there.

    All of this and more, folks. The road is long and fraught with danger and we have miles to go before we sleep.

    I think the journey will begin in earnest mid-February. Until then, it’s survival time.