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Wideman offers explanation

Hopes points turnaround comes before Christmas

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 17, 2009

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Through 17 games, Dennis Wideman has one goal, three assists, and a unique perspective on why his points are down.

“I’m hoping that maybe I’m doing the opposite of what I was doing last year,’’ Wideman said before last night’s 4-1 loss. “Last year I had a bunch of points before Christmas. Didn’t do [expletive] after. So hopefully, when I’m not doing [expletive] now, I’ll do a bunch after.’’

Through 17 games last season, Wideman had scored five goals and four assists. As the team’s ace puck-mover and No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara, Wideman would conclude 2008-09 with a career-high 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists) in 79 games. Wideman averaged 24:38 of ice time per game and saw heavy action in every situation. When Wideman was at his best, he would dig pucks out of corners, draw forecheckers, then make simple, flat, tape-to-tape outlet passes to his forwards to initiate the breakout.

This year, Wideman’s game hasn’t resembled the 2008-09 version. Too often, he’s been careless with the puck in the defensive zone. Wideman’s seen attackers go deep and wide on him to create scoring chances.

Wideman busted his scoreless streak with two assists versus Pittsburgh last Tuesday. In Saturday’s rematch, Wideman was involved in the misplay that led to Pascal Dupuis’s overtime winner. Last night, Wideman was on the ice for three New York goals. In the third period, Wideman wilted under the double-barreled forecheck of Richard Park and Matt Moulson and turned the puck over, which led to a John Tavares strike that deflected off Matt Hunwick.

Because of the addition of Derek Morris, who has assumed No. 2 duties, Wideman’s ice time is down to 22:04 per game. Wideman also missed three games because of an injured left shoulder suffered on Oct. 10.

The Bruins bosses believe Morris’s arrival and the shoulder injury are two factors in why Wideman’s game has been slow to kick in. From the start, Morris assumed duties on the first power-play unit, which often featured Wideman last year. So with less man-advantage opportunities, Wideman, dropped to the No. 2 unit, might have been trying to do too much in limited looks.

Then after sitting out three straight games against Colorado, Dallas, and Phoenix, it took time for Wideman’s legs and touch to return. Counting the Oct. 10 match against the Islanders, Wideman went 10 straight games without scoring a point. Last season, Wideman’s longest scoring drought was seven.

Streit A’s
For the three seasons Steve Begin spent in Montreal with Mark Streit, he saw a talented defenseman with not enough confidence to match his skills.

“When he first got there, he didn’t really get a chance,’’ Begin recalled. “I don’t think they thought he would be that kind of a player. I remember he was playing both forward and defense.’’

But Streit, who signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract with the Islanders after the 2007-08 season (the Bruins kicked the tires on the ex-Canadien but opted to sign Michael Ryder to a three-year, $12 million deal), has since exploded into one of the NHL’s premier defensemen. Last year, Streit scored 16 goals and 40 assists (29 power-play points) in 74 games, showcasing a laser of a slapper from the point.

This season, the 31-year-old has four goals and seven assists in 21 games. Streit is averaging 25:45 of ice time per game, eighth-most in the NHL.

Legends Classic set for Jan. 2
Hall of Famer Cam Neely will be one of the primetime players in the Legends Classic. The game will be at Fenway Park on Jan. 2 at 2 p.m., one day after the Bruins and Flyers face off in the Winter Classic.

Other participants will include Hollywood’s Denis Leary, Tim Robbins, and Bobby Farrelly, and former NHLers Brian Leetch, Pat LaFontaine, Bob Beers, Andy Brickley, Lyndon Byers, Gary Doak, Ken Hodge, Ken Linseman, Rick Middleton, Terry O’Reilly, Brad Park, Johnny MacKenzie, Bob Sweeney, and Don Sweeney.

Tickets will cost $10 to $25 and go on sale Nov. 20. For more information, visit bostonbruins.com.

Lucic skates again
Yet another smooth morning skate for Milan Lucic yesterday. Lucic could be cleared to play either Thursday against Atlanta or Friday against Buffalo . . . The Bruins killed off all five New York power plays, have now killed 25 straight, and are 39 for their last 40 (97.5 percent) . . . David Krejci had one of his best performances of the season, recording three shots and one assist while winning 12 of 15 faceoffs.

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