Dennis Wideman has been one of this season's eye-openers, molding himself into a top-four defenseman capable of logging big minutes, playing stout defense, and serving as an offensive threat.
In his eyes, Wideman was few of those things in last night's 4-2 loss to Buffalo.
"I was terrible," said Wideman, who recorded a minus-3 rating, one missed shot, and one giveaway in 24:33 of ice time. "I could have stopped two or three of those goals. That's unacceptable at this time of year."
In the first period, Buffalo forward Daniel Paille got a step on Wideman and gained position at the far post. Then Wideman failed to pick up Paille's stick, allowing the forward to tap in a cross-ice pass for the game's opening goal.
In the second period, Wideman thought he should have gotten a stick in the passing lane to bust up defenseman Brian Campbell's cross-ice feed to forward Drew Stafford. When Wideman failed to do so, Campbell connected with Stafford, who flung the puck out front for forward Thomas Vanek to redirect it past Tim Thomas, making it a 2-1 game.
"Dennis has played very well for us this year," said coach Claude Julien. "There were certainly parts of his game tonight that weren't as good as we've seen.
"There's been a couple games where a couple decisions have come back to show us some of the things that we tried to correct at the beginning of the year.
"He'll get himself back on track. We'll certainly work with him. I'd rather see a player hard on himself - we can pick him up and make the corrections - than have a guy who'll say, 'Well, I thought I was OK.' "
Team's lifelineThe four-game scoring streak of Milan Lucic came to an end, while Chuck Kobasew stretched his string to five straight with an assist on Mark Stuart's garbage-time goal. But the two second-line wingers and center Glen Metropolit combined for nine shots, the most of any offensive threesome. Lucic was credited with five hits and two blocked shots, while Metropolit won 12 of 15 faceoffs. "What they consider simple is the basis of what we've been trying to do all year," Julien said before the game. "When you attack the net, throw pucks at the net, and you're at the net for rebounds - you see Lucic's goal in Ottawa - you're creating those kinds of things. You see Kobasew shooting pucks any chance he gets. He's not trying to get cute or make that extra move. That's what we're looking for. That line's done a great job as far as accomplishing that. Hopefully, it rubs off on everybody."
No-fight zoneSince his last bout - a loss to Washington defenseman John Erskine on Jan. 3 - Lucic hasn't dropped the gloves, for fear of taking on more damage to his battered face.
And that hasn't been a bad thing.
"If it would happen, it would happen. You'd still do it if it happened," said Lucic. "But there really hasn't been anywhere where something would happen. [Opponents] are probably aware of it. The respect factor is pretty good."
Lucic has recorded 8 points in 13 straight fight-free matches.
"Right now, he's in a position, with some of his injuries, where he's better off to stay away from that if he can," Julien said. "At the same time, he's proven to people that he's a very capable hockey player that can put points up on the board, can throw big hits, can make plays, and can shoot the puck well. He's establishing himself as a good all-around player."
Morning peopleGlen Murray (hip flexor) and Bobby Allen (back) both participated in yesterday's morning skate. Neither played last night, but there's a chance they could be available this weekend . . . Marc Savard missed practice Monday because of flu-like symptoms, but he had recovered yesterday and was in the lineup, recording one shot in 21:09 of ice time . . . The Bruins had only one shot in three power plays. "They were more desperate than we were," said Julien. "So their penalty kill totally outworked our power play. By outworking our power play, we couldn't generate anything. With the entries, we dumped it in; they were winning those battles and shooting the puck back down the ice." . . . Shawn Thornton had a lengthy first-period fight with tough guy Andrew Peters, scoring the takedown at 5:33.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.