- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dennis Wideman is quick with a joke or to light up a reporter who tries to compare him to Mike Green. He recently pointed out that Green being in or out of the Washington Capitals’ lineup doesn’t all of a sudden make him have hands.

But the Caps defenseman has a better shot than maybe even he realizes and an offensive value to his team that goes beyond just putting the puck on net.

Dennis logs a lot of minutes, he assumes a lot of responsibility with Mike out of the lineup, but he welcomes it,” forward Brooks Laich said.

Wideman’s two goals Friday night snapped a 17-game drought. During that time, he was minus-13. Scoring twice on the power play won’t boost the plus-minus, but it might help just to see the puck go in the net.

“The games were starting to pile up there, he said. “I hadn’t even been getting opportunities to really shoot the puck.”

He took advantages of his chances in the 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Wideman, though, didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

“They’re just slap shots,” Wideman said. “Sometimes they miss the net and other times they get blocked and other times they get in. [Friday] night was one of those nights that everything kind of went in.”

But it seems Wideman’s shot — specifically his release — is better than that of most NHL defensemen. He can avoid shot-blockers, find lanes and avoid sending a shot wide more often than not.

“He always hit the net, I think. That’s a big key,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “If you’re going to score goals, you’ve got to hit the net, and that’s what he does most of the time.”

Wideman has assumed the role of the top point man on the power play since Green went back out of the lineup Nov. 11 with a groin injury, but his role under new coach Dale Hunter has been elevated with extra ice time.

And there’s no doubt the Capitals need Wideman going to have success on the power play. With him driving that unit Friday, it went 4-for-6, scoring four times with the man advantage in one game for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009.

Much of it has to do with Wideman. And while he doesn’t have Green’s hands to maneuver the puck in tight spaces and take wristers, his shot is deceptively good.

“He’s got a heavy shot to begin with. It’s one of those shots where if it doesn’t give in, it leaves rebounds because the goalie can’t catch it,” said Hunter, who coached Wideman with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. “He’s always had it, so that’s what makes him a good power-play guy.”

And a necessary guy on the power play, too, even though Wideman smiled again when asked about his value with Green out.

“Whoever’s playing the point on the power play, that’s their job is to get shots through,” he said. “I think we’ve had a lot of guys up there, and it hasn’t been working for a while right now. [Friday] night we got some shots through with good screens. Sometimes they find their way through.”

He almost had a hat trick against the Maple Leafs but petitioned the NHL to review it and award the Washington’s fourth goal to Laich. It was about being honest Wideman said - “good karma.”

That’s something he and the Caps hope continues beyond just one game.



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