Chris Kelly, Dennis Wideman

Dennis Wideman believes he’s doing a fine job of defending

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If the Capitals are going to find a way to get past the New York Rangers, they’ll need to be just as defensively sound as they were against the Bruins. One guy who you might believe needs to be better for Washington is Dennis Wideman, just don’t go telling him that.

Wideman tells Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times that he felt great about how he played in the first round and that he’s busy not reading what others think of how he’s doing.

“You’re on the ice, you’re on the ice. I thought I had a pretty good series defensively. I didn’t lose my guy a whole lot and didn’t have any real bad breakdowns where I got beat. I was on the ice for some goals,” Wideman said Friday. “I thought I played well. I was happy with my series.”

Wideman was on the ice for more goals allowed against the Caps than not and he didn’t have a great series. That said, to be able to shut out all the negativity and focus on your game takes a special kind of hardheadedness and Wideman seems to have it. The Caps just hope Wideman can eliminate the boneheaded mistakes on the ice from here on out.

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.