Every time all of us go out there, we’re trying to score every shift. We want to score. I don’t know if I’m doing anything particularly different. - Dennis Wideman
CALGARY, AB -- Over 46 games in an injury-riddled campaign a year ago, Dennis Wideman managed just four goals. With the page turned on 2013-14, it’s all but been forgotten by the 31-year-old defenceman.
After all, he’s managed to match that on his current scoring streak, one that’s helped him eclipse that four goal total through the first 10 games of the 2014-15 schedule.
“I don’t know if I’m doing anything different,” said Wideman, who went three games to start the season without scoring and served as a healthy scratch against the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of the season. “You’d have to ask other people that are watching. Every time all of us go out there, we’re trying to score every shift. We want to score. I don’t know if I’m doing anything particularly different.
“I think I’m probably making a little bit better decisions than I did earlier in the year but as far as prep or when I’m practicing or anything like that, I’m doing everything the same.”
Ask partner Kris Russell. He’ll tell you.
The difference in Wideman isn’t hard to see.
“He’s playing with confidence,” said Russell, who has collected six assists this season and has been in each and every Wideman goal during the streak. “He’s a skilled player. He’s got a great shot and he’s using it to his advantage. He’s finding the right moments to use it in the holes. He’s been playing well. He’s been one of our best defensemen.”
The run for Wideman is near-unprecedented for Flames defencemen. Should he find a way to find the back of the net against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, he’ll tie a franchise record for goals in consecutive games amongst Calgary blueliners. The original mark was set at five by Gary Suter in 1988.
But it’s not just in the offensive end where Wideman’s game has picked up, either.
Flames coach Bob Hartley was quick to point out that Wideman hasn’t been a one-trick pony during his run.
“When I talk about contribution, I’m not only talking about his goal contribution, I’m talking about the way that he plays, the way that he retrieves pucks, the way that he plays defense in our zone,” Hartley said. “He’s alert. He’s out there. He’s giving us great minutes and he’s giving us a chance to win.
“You look at him in practice right now. I watch him prepare and everything and credit goes to him. He’s showing us a commitment and on the flipside it’s a great story because he’s getting rewarded. He’s playing very well for us. His minutes have gone up, his contribution to the team has been unbelievable and he’s having fun.
“I think when pucks start going in or things start going well you start getting some confidence and plays start opening up,” Wideman said. “Things are going well right now and I’m seeing little passes in my own zone and breakout passes I wasn’t quite seeing or didn’t have the confidence to make earlier on in the year. When things are going well, those plays become a little bit easier.”
Harder to believe Wideman served as a healthy scratch in Edmonton, too.
“At that time we had seven healthy D and I thought it was the time to say, ‘Wides, we need you’,” Hartley said. “Sometimes actions are bigger than words and I think that my decision was a big one.
“His response was even bigger and better.”