Dennis Wideman didn’t try to sidestep anything after the Capitals’ loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He made two mistakes that led directly to goals and there was little anyone could do to sugarcoat it.
On the play that led to the Hurricanes’ third goal, the puck bounced up to his spot on the offensive blueline on a clearing attempt by Tim Gleason. Wideman tried to swat the puck back into the offensive zone but whiffed, creating a breakaway for Brandon Sutter.
“It was just a bad read,” Wideman said. “Those are the plays that cost you playoff series, don’t let you get into playoffs. A bad play. I should have probably just backed up and took the two-on-one, one-on-one, whatever it ended up being.”
His errors were glaring because they led to goals, but they also reflect a turn in Wideman’s season.
After making his first-ever all-star appearance in late January, Wideman has recorded just six points (one goal, five assists) and has a minus-5 rating in 18 games. Over the course of 66 games this season, Wideman has 40 total points (10 goals, 30 assists) and is a minus-5.
While there’s a certain amount of risk versus reward that comes with offensively-inclined defensemen like Wideman, if they’re not scoring the Capitals need them to make minimal mistakes in their own zone.
“In a tie hockey game, that’s probably maybe a 50-percent play,” Wideman said of the whiff. “It’s just stupid.”
Coach Dale Hunter agreed: “You can’t take chances like that. It’s a bouncing puck. You have to back out.”
In overtime, Wideman pinched deep into the offensive zone and when Marcus Johansson lost a puck battle along the boards, the defenseman was unable to scramble back into the play. A two-on-one developed with Mike Green, the only Capital back in the defensive zone, unable to prevent Justin Faulk from scoring the game winner.
“He should have stopped and waited,” Hunter said of Wideman’s play on the game winner. “The puck was jammed on the boards and they got an odd-man rush from it.”
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