- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2012

Dennis Wideman was often criticized for his play during the Washington Capitals’ first-round series against the Boston Bruins. He was on the ice for eight of the Bruins’ 13 even-strength goals and was considered one of the goats of the series.

But the defenseman who made his first All-Star Game appearance in January didn’t have as negative an assessment about everything.

“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. “I thought I played well. I was happy with my series.”

Wideman spent parts of four seasons with Boston. Maybe that was part of the problem.

“I think it’s tough playing against former teams in the playoffs. When I was out there, I thought I played pretty good. I didn’t feel comfortable sometimes, on the power play and stuff like that, but I think it came around as the series went on. Early on, it was a little nerve-wracking,” he said. “It’s just different. It’s hard to get that edge that you need in playoffs, that extra step where you really dislike people when you still talk to them. That can be a little bit difficult.”

The only team left in the playoffs that Wideman played with is the St. Louis Blues.

Holtby sees yellow

Braden Holtby starred in his first trip to Madison Square Garden on the final day of the regular season. He stopped 35 of the 36 shots the New York Rangers threw his way, a start that gave he and his teammates even more confidence going into the playoffs.

And it got his Garden debut out of the way, helping the 22-year-old familiarize himself with the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” especially the lighting, he said.

“It’s not exactly your typical building,” Holtby said, explaining that it was darker than other rinks. “It’s just a different color in there; it’s almost a yellow. That’s mainly the thing.”

That familiarity will help with Games 1 and 2 coming at the Garden on Saturday afternoon and then Monday night. But as with everything else over the past month, Holtby downplayed the importance of knowing the territory.

“It’s still a sheet of ice the same size as everyone else,” he said.

No ‘Big Z’

Alex Ovechkin had two goals and three assists in the Bruins series, far below his career playoff average. Some of that can be attributed to low ice time in Games 4, 5 and 7, but a lot of credit has to go to Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.

Now, it’s on to the Rangers.

“I hope it’s going to be more ice open there than against Boston. But we’ll see how it goes,” Ovechkin said. “No ‘Big Z’ anymore, so it’s kind of good.”

Ovechkin won’t get too much open ice against New York, if John Tortorella has anything to do with it. Expect Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh to spend the series trying to shut down the Caps star left wing.

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