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Wideman hopes to help solve Caps' PP woes

by Ben Raby
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dennis Wideman says that he doesn't see the Washington Capitals' struggling power play remaining in its current funk for much longer. Should the fortunes of the NHL's 25th ranked power play unit in fact change, Wideman could be a big reason why.
The former Florida Panthers defenseman was traded to Washington on Monday in exchange for prospect Jake Hauswirth and the Capitals' 2011 third round draft pick. Later in the day, the Caps reportedly added center Jason Arnott in a trade with the Devils for David Steckel.
"The power play has been struggling a little bit of late, but it won't last long with the amount of guys they have out there," Wideman said in a conference call shortly after his trade was completed. "Hopefully I can get on [the power play] and I'll do my best when I am out there. But they've got a lot of depth there and we'll be fine on the power play."
Wideman is expected to make his Capitals debut Tuesday against the New York Islanders, and could see time quarterbacking the Caps' No. 1 power-play unit. The offensive-minded Wideman had 9 goals and 33 points in Florida this season, both of which would lead Capitals defensemen.
"I think it's no secret that our power play is struggling," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Dennis Wideman is a good power-play point guy, a good puck mover, he's a solid veteran that's played on really good defensive teams and he plays lots of minutes for whichever team he plays for, so I don't think we could have made a better defensive pickup."
The Capitals' power play, which has not scored multiple goals in the same game since Nov. 26, remains one of the biggest reasons the team has gone from averaging a League-best 3.82 goals per game in 2009-10 to 2.63 goals this season.

"My first reaction was excitement," Wideman said of joining the Caps. "I've played against Washington the last few years quite a bit with Boston and Florida. I know the type of the game and the way they play and I'm just happy to be a part of it.

"I hope to fit right in with what they're trying to do there. I think my game, and what I've tried to bring to teams that I've played on, is good breakout pass, a good first pass and [the ability to] jump into the rush whenever I can."
Wideman is just the latest offensive minded defenseman on the Capitals, joining fellow right-handed shooters Mike Green and John Carlson.
"The whole game is about speed now, and speed doesn't necessarily mean how fast you can skate, but how fast you can move the puck," Boudreau said. "He's a puck mover, Mike Green is a puck mover and John Carlson is getting to be one, so I think it's paramount that you have that ability to make plays from the back end."

Wideman also acknowledged the irony in going from a Panthers team that held the Capitals to just one power-play goal in 14 attempts this season, to joining that same power play unit in Washington.
"The game plan for [stopping] their power play was basically don't let Ovechkin get the puck," Wideman said. "Now I'm on the other side, and now I'll be trying to get him the puck.
"I won't have to chase him around anymore."

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