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Bruins Notebook

This would be nice assist

Wideman’s return may come tonight

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 21, 2009

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OTTAWA - Saturday afternoon, while his Bruins teammates were already in Toronto, Dennis Wideman was one of the fortunate travelers able to leave Logan Airport before snow snarled commercial travel.

“Wasn’t a cloud in the sky at that time,’’ Wideman said of conditions upon takeoff from Boston.

Yesterday, Wideman was one of five Bruins (Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, and Andy Wozniewski were the others) who practiced at Carleton University under the watch of assistant coach Doug Houda. Given Wideman’s journey and the way he practiced yesterday - without limitations, even taking an inadvertent elbow from McQuaid during battle drills - it’s a good bet the defenseman will be part of Boston’s blue-line six-pack tonight at Scotiabank Place against the Senators in the final match of a three-game road swing.

“Unless there’s a big setback, for me to come to Ottawa, I’d hope I’m playing,’’ Wideman said.

Wideman stayed back in Boston for Friday night’s 5-4 shootout loss in Chicago. He was in suit and tie for Saturday night’s 2-0 setback against the Maple Leafs, courtesy of an undisclosed injury that cropped up last Monday during the Bruins’ 3-1 loss to Philadelphia at TD Garden. In the first period, while killing a five-on-three power play, Wideman took a Mike Richards blast off the foot. Wideman skated several shifts in the second period, but he wasn’t seen in the third. Wideman said the injury was not related to the blocked shot.

Wideman stayed off the ice last Tuesday and Wednesday. He skated by himself Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, then traveled to Toronto. Wideman practiced for just under an hour yesterday.

“Everything was good [yesterday],’’ said Wideman, who missed three games in October because of a shoulder injury.

Wideman’s return should aid a defensive corps that’s taken significant hits lately. Mark Stuart broke his sternum last Monday against the Flyers. Derek Morris sat out his first game of the season against Toronto. So Saturday night, the Bruins dressed recent call-ups Wozniewski and McQuaid and their former No. 7 defenseman in Johnny Boychuk.

The undermanned D, however, wasn’t a problem in Toronto. Andrew Ference led all Bruins with 28:22 of ice time, while Zdeno Chara (26:45) neutralized Phil Kessel yet again. Instead, the Bruins couldn’t generate many scoring chances on Jonas Gustavsson. Wideman, as one of the team’s better puck-moving defensemen, could help kick-start the offense from the back end tonight.

“Obviously we didn’t score any goals,’’ Wideman said. “We looked a little flat. But the Ds that stepped in played well. Boychuk played well. Ference really picked up his game. When Wozniewski and McQuaid were out there, they did a good job.’’

Fitting right in
As expected for a player making his NHL debut, McQuaid felt nervous during warm-ups and in his first few shifts at the Air Canada Centre. But the stay-at-home defenseman didn’t look out of sorts, recording two shots and blocking two pucks in 9:42 of ice time.

“Pretty good,’’ McQuaid said with a smile about his first big-league experience. “It was pretty exciting to get to play in that atmosphere.’’

In all, McQuaid, a native of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, had 22 guests in attendance. His parents and brother flew in from PEI. His friends and billet family from Sudbury, where he played juniors, also made it to the game.

“It’s a faster pace,’’ McQuaid said of the NHL game. “There’s not as much running around. Guys are in position a lot more. When you look up, there aren’t too many options.’’

Interesting stuff
Friday at Scotiabank Place, the visiting Wild lost much of their gear when a fire broke out in their equipment truck. The guess is that a blowtorch, a fixture around any dressing room (players use them to work on their sticks), accidentally turned on and touched off the blaze. The Wild’s training staff then went into scramble mode. They gathered any useable gear back in Minnesota, then flew it to Ottawa in time for Saturday night’s game. The Wild dropped a 4-1 decision.

“It would be tough,’’ Thomas said of playing without his usual equipment. “I’ve got enough old stuff that if I were allowed to go home and get it, it wouldn’t be fun - most of the stuff you have is so worn out that if you take a shot, it’s going to be pretty painful - but you could do it.’’

Thomas said he probably could play with new pads and a new blocker right away, although a two- or three-day break-in period would be ideal. But he said it takes him a while to break in pants, shoulder pads, and catching glove because they have flex points.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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