Dennis Wideman seeks redemption in Florida after tough year in Boston

GYI0060279209-wideman-elsa-getty.jpgIt can be tough to be traded as it’s always a major disruption in a player’s life and his career. For a guy like Dennis Wideman, it may have come as a blessing in disguise. Last year, the offensively-talented Wideman had some growing pains dealing with the playoff-anxious Bruins. Bruins fans were about as bi-polar in their treatment of Wideman as we’ve seen with any player in recent memory. No player went from goat, to hero, back to goat again as seamlessly as Dennis Wideman seemed to with the Bruins.

During the summer, Wideman was shipped to Florida in the Nathan Horton trade and for him, the disruption hasn’t dissuaded his attitude towards playing and tells The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa that he’s ready to go and continue improving in Florida.

“Last year wasn’t one of my better years,” he said. “There were a lot of guys who didn’t have very good years last year. Mine, it just seemed, got shone upon a little brighter. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

As there are questions about work ethic with Horton, there are warts to Wideman’s game. When he struggled with his confidence last season, pucks bobbled off his stick. He lost his footing retrieving pucks. Forwards blew past him to create scoring chances.

But just as there is promise to Horton’s game, the Panthers recognized Wideman’s ceiling. In last year’s playoffs, Wideman led the Bruins in scoring with 1 goal and 11 assists, while averaging 26:02 of ice time.

“I think the last stretch run, I think I was almost a point a game in the last 20-25 games of the year,” Wideman said. “Things just finally got better then. I started feeling good. Confidence was good. Things started getting better and better, then I had a good playoff run.”

There’s no doubt that Florida is going to have their handfuls of trouble this year. They’re solid in goal, they’ve got one stellar scoring line and yet Bryan McCabe is still their captain and their best defenseman. Things drop off pretty hard for the Panthers from there, but if they can get a confident Wideman out there, it would give them a guy capable of playing solid on the power play and give the Panthers just a little bit more depth and a guy who can be a step above being a role player on the blue line.

Mind you, the Panthers figure to still be rough around the edges, but at least if Wideman pans out they can hold this moral victory over the Bruins’ heads. Hey, you have to win at something these days, right?

(Photo: Elsa – Getty Images)

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    WATCH LIVE: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals

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    The Washington Capitals, fresh off of a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s NHL record 20th overtime goal, return home on Saturday night to host the Florida Panthers.

    After winning their first two games of the season the Capitals have stumbled a little bit over the past couple of weeks winning just two of their past six games. They are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since those back-to-back wins to open the season.

    The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night that cost them goaltender Roberto Luongo who was placed on injured reserve on Saturday afternoon.

    You can catch all of the action on NBCSN. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET.

    Click here to watch live.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Red Wings trade Riley Sheahan to Penguins for Scott Wilson

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    It was simply a matter of when, and not if the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to swing a trade in an effort to improve their center depth.

    On Saturday, they finally completed such a deal.

    They hope.

    The Penguins acquired forward Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Scott Wilson and a 2018 third-round draft pick.

    The move accomplishes something for both teams.

    For the Red Wings, it helps them clear some necessary cap space following the new one-year deal for Andreas Athanasiou while the Penguins get some much needed center depth.

    After losing Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen over the summer in free agency the Penguins did not make any corresponding moves to fill those spots. They opened the season with Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney occupying those spots. While they have done a solid job so far there was obviously still some room for improvement.

    The question is whether or not Sheahan can help provide that.

    Sheahan, 25, has had some reasonable success in the NHL scoring 27 goals between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

    Since then, however, he has been mired in one of the most unbelievable goal scoring droughts in recent memory, scoring just two goals (both in the final game of the 2016-17 season) in his past 88 games. He has a shooting percentage of just 1.7 percent.

    One way to look at it if you are the Penguins: He has to be due to bust out of that drought at some point because players that have shown the ability to score close to 15 goals in the NHL don’t typically lose that when they are still 25 years old. Perhaps a fresh start, in a new situation with better teammates around him can help him along. It wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened in recent years with the Penguins (looking at you, Justin Schultz).

    As for Wilson, he has appeared in 108 NHL games with the Penguins scoring 13 goals to go with 19 assists. He scored goals in 20 playoff games during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run a year ago. Given the Penguins’ depth on the wings, as well as the potential for a mid-season callup for Daniel Sprong there just was not much room for him in Pittsburgh.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Simmonds goes from game-time decision to game-winner for Flyers vs. Oilers

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    With extra protection on his face and at least a couple ailments slowing him down, Wayne Simmonds wasn’t even a sure-thing to play for the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. In true hockey player fashion, Simmonds ended up being the difference-maker.

    (That’s so hockey, right?)

    Simmonds finished off some fantastic work from Jori Lehtera and Valtteri Filppula to score the decisive goal in the Flyers’ tight 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers this afternoon:

    The gritty-but-talented winger also made his usual havoc in front of the net as part of Philly’s vaunted power play, ultimately getting the primary assist on Claude Giroux‘s goal:

    This victory moves the Flyers to 5-3-0 in this young season, with three wins coming in their last four games. They’ve shown an ability to limit opponents lately, too; the Flyers have only allowed three goals in as many games and five in their last four.

    While the Flyers stayed in the merciless Metro’s arms race, the Oilers feel punchless once again.

    Their only goal was somewhat random, as Patrick Maroon made a great play, and a rare tally without the help of Connor McDavid:

    It doesn’t really kill the trend of the Oilers relying far too much on McDavid and his top line. Maroon and McDavid fired eight of Edmonton’s 24 shots on goal in this contest, with another eight coming from the Oilers’ blueline.

    Some of these top-heavy struggles come down to the structure put in place by GM Peter Chiarelli. Still, you wonder if head coach Todd McLellan needs to make some tweaks where he can, as the Oilers are asking a lot of a small group. (Ryan Strome continues to be a disappointment, as he didn’t register a single shot on goal after showing some life with nine SOG in his past two games.)

    There’s also the impression that the Oilers sorely need Leon Draisaitl to carry his own line whenever he can return from concussion issues. Even in their slump-breaking victory on Thursday, they needed two McDavid assists, including one of the best you’ll ever see.

    The Oilers close off a three-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, then maybe they’ll get a chance to gather their wits with a five-game homestand (though their opponents aren’t always the easiest).

    Meanwhile, the upstart Flyers aim to win four of five during a solid homestand. What a difference a goal (and Wayne Simmonds) makes.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Lundqvist sharp, Rangers scrappy against Predators to end slump

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    Is it melodramatic to say that the New York Rangers needed this one?

    Whatever weight you put on it, the Rangers finally broke a troubling five-game losing streak, managing a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Predators saw a streak end in their own right, as they had been on a 4-0-1 run.

    MORE: Rangers are still in for a steep climb in the Metro

    As much as this was a confidence-booster, it was sometimes a sleepy afternoon effort by the Rangers. After generating a 2-0 lead in the first period, New York snoozed at times, only firing six shots on goal on Juuse Saros during the final 40 minutes.

    Whether it came down to sitting on a lead or the Predators pressing on the gas, Henrik Lundqvist had to be alert at times in stopping 23 of 25 shots. One of his best efforts came in snubbing Colton Sissons in close:

    In winning his 407th career regular-season game, Lundqvist tied Glenn Hall for ninth all-time in NHL history.

    The Rangers were opportunistic on Saturday, a positive sign for a team that hasn’t always been getting the bounces early in 2017-18.

    Kevin Hayes exerted his will at times, assisting on the Rangers’ opening goal and powering past Matt Irwin for what would stand as the game-winner:

    Impressive stuff by Hayes, even if it was almost an equally lousy showing by Irwin.

    Ryan Ellis is clearly missed by Nashville, but moments like Irwin’s lapse and Alexei Emelin flailing badly on the opening goal make one wonder why, exactly, Samuel Girard isn’t getting more looks after some promising early showings. With Irwin and Yannick Weber logging less than 11 minutes on Saturday, both P.K. Subban (27:55) and Roman Josi (27:31) flirted with 28-minute workloads despite the contest ending in regulation.

    The Predators likely cringed a little extra at the empty-net goal since it came via former Preds prospect Jimmy Vesey:

    If the Rangers want to get back on track, they’ll need to win in a number of ways, even if they’re not always pretty ones like this one was.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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