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Countdown 15: Wideman Settles In

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

Dennis Wideman skates in a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins in Rochester, NY (Dave Sturm)
In today's topic, we take a closer look at defenseman Dennis Wideman in our Top 10 Players To Watch this season.

Going into last season, defenseman Dennis Wideman had posted back-to-back career years. The 27-year old recorded 13 goals and 36 points during the 2007-08 season with the Boston Bruins. Then he followed that up with another 13 goals as well as 50 points the next season.

Seen as one of the B's best defensemen along with captain Zdeno Chara, another solid year was expected of him as the Bruins were one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

For Wideman however, he never really got going until the end of the season.

"I had a rough start to the year," said Wideman. "It kind of continued on until about the last 25-30 games of the year."

Looked on as one of the Bruins scape goats for their lack of success, Wideman was booed by fans throughout the season. That didn't deter the Panthers defenseman. After the Bruins snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season, Wideman would help lead the Bruins to the Game-7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals as he posted a team high 12 points (11 assists) in 13 playoff games.

"I don't know," pondered Wideman when asked the difference between most of the regular season and the last 25 games as the playoffs. "Must have done something better...I switched my stick actually and points started coming and all of a sudden we were rolling."

Acquired in a trade just before the draft along with a first-round pick (ended up being Nick Bjugstad) and a 2011 third-round pick for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, Wideman is viewed as a puck-moving defenseman who brings a much needed boost from the blueline. Being a right-handed shot, the Ontario native should help the power play this year. Over half of his goals (26 of 46) have come with the man-advantage. All of the Panthers defensemen last year had left-handed shots.

"You can have that one-timer off the back-door would make a little bit of a difference," said Wideman. "I would say that right-handed shot makes all the difference on the power-play."

Settled in South Florida, Wideman is liking what he sees both on the ice and off. And that, hopefully, should result in a big year for the blueliner.

"I like it a lot. I'm getting settled in," said Wideman. "I'm starting to get my barings on where everything is. I'm liking a lot what I see and I'm getting excited."

3 - Florida will be Wideman's third team in his career. Played for a season and a half with the Blues before being traded at the deadline to the Bruins.

6 - Had six multi-point games, five were multi-assists games.

8 -
Recorded points in eight of 13 playoff games for Bruins. Three of them were multi-point games.

13 - Scored career-high 13 goals during 2007-08 season and matched during 2008-09 season.

32 - Finished an astounding plus-32 during the 2008-09 season, good enough for sixth highest in the league and third highest on the team.

34 - After finishing with a career high 70 penalty minutes during the 2007-08 season, has posted back-to-back 34 PIM in each of last two seasons.

37 - Picked up a career-high 37 assists during the 2008-09 season.
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