No hard feeling for Wideman

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No hard feeling for Wideman

Dennis Wideman is excited to suit up and play against his former Bruins team, but the excitement isnt about revenge or getting back at the boo-happy fans.

Instead its simply about getting back into the playoffs after missing out on last season with a leg injury that went wrong for the puck-moving defenseman. The hematoma in his leg kept him hospitalized and away from the action after hed been traded to the Caps, so hes looking at this years playoffs as the chance to finally up for Washington as a difference-maker.

It isnt about proving the Bruins wrong for trading him away in exchange for players in Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell that helped the Bruins win the Cup.

He understands thats a business and he turned in his first All-Star worthy season with 46 points as the main offensive defenseman for the Caps.

I dont know if Im motivated by proving anybody wrong. I was in a situation where they had a lot of defensemen and they needed a forward. I was the guy that went the other way. Thats the way I looked at it, said Wideman. When they lost Kessel to Toronto and they needed a top-end scorer.

Horton was the guy they went after and the guy they could give up was on defense. Its business. Thats the way it works. I dont sit there and say I cant believe they traded me because thats not how it is. Look around and watch the other sports. Thats just the way it works.

Its also not about gaining vengeance against a Boston fan base that turned Wideman into a Hal GillJoe Corvo-style whipping boy when the blueliner got off to a very slow start. It got pretty bad for Wideman once the Bs fans focused on each defensive zone misadventure, but he doesnt harbor any ill will towards Boston after two years away from the bad scene.

No. I didnt start off the year as well as I wanted to and the first half was a struggle, said Wideman. I was getting frustrated. Theyre knowledgeable hockey fans, so I assumed they werent too happy with the way I was playing.

They were just being Boston fans. They dont put up with that. Thats just the way it is.While Wideman wouldnt say that revenge was on his mind playing the Bruins this season, he did score a pair of goals in the four regular season matchups. But thats not the ultimate Wideman revenge: that would probably involve celebrating a Washington playoff series victory on the Boston ice that became his tormentor two years ago.

Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

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Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

Through the first sixteen series of the season, the Red Sox are 9-5-3 (two ties coming from two-game sets) en route to their AL East leading 30-20 record.

Boston’s only mustered up two series sweeps -- taking two in Atlanta and three from the Yankees at Fenway -- but they’ve avoided the dreaded broom in each of their five series losses.

In fact, in four of their five series losses the Red Sox earned their lone victory in the final game, with Sunday being the most recent instance.

None of the series finale, sweep-defying wins were cakewalks either. Three of the four were decided by three runs or less -- the other being decided by four.

Boston’s MLB-leading 5.9 runs per game offense scored below its average each time -- so Red Sox pitching didn’t have the same gigantic cushion it’s used to.

Prior to his injury, Joe Kelly was the first savior, chucking five innings allowing two earned runs against a Baltimore Orioles team that was undefeated at that point in the season’s youth. Fast forward to the series at Yankee Stadium and Steven Wright nearly through a shutout, holding the Yankees to one run through nine innings.

In the two most recent cases, David Price’s turn came in the lineup -- and he’s answered the call. Boston’s ace held down both the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays -- on the road -- limiting both offenses to two runs each. Both starts have come the day after one-run losses, too.

So while Price’s “stuff” hasn’t been at its best, admitting Sunday it usually isn’t against the Blue Jays, he’s displayed the intangible aces are supposed to have – guts.

Now on any other team, they might be in trouble given Boston’s offense is the best in baseball. Because a bad scoring day for the Red Sox is better than almost half the league’s average day. But they aren’t on any other team, so that’s not the issue.

For all the struggles the Red Sox’ starting pitchers have dealt with, they’ve managed to get the job done when they’ve needed it.

Those wins add up, too.

If the Red Sox are swept in these four series, they sit at 26-24 right in the middle of the AL East -- and this season has an entirely different feel to it.

In an age where numbers have become the central focus of the game, Boston’s starting pitchers have managed to lock-in when the club needs it most -- and must continue to do so.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.

Monday, May 30: Sullivan reminisces about coaching Thornton

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Monday, May 30: Sullivan reminisces about coaching Thornton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while honoring and remembering those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freed on this Memorial Day.

*Here’s a hockey column from Mark Madden, which kind of proves his dopiness when it comes to pucks. He writes about Pittsburgh’s excellent shutdown pair of Ian Cole and Justin Schultz, who have averaged a whopping 15 and 13 minutes of ice time respectively in these playoffs. Yeah, that’s not a shutdown pair. That’s called a bottom pairing.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri with another chapter in hockey’s version of the Never-ending Story: John Scott wants to make his own World Cup team with Phil Kessel.

*Mike Sullivan reminisces about coaching Joe Thornton, and playing for the San Jose Sharks, as his Penguins ready to take on San Jose in the Stanley Cup Final.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s me wondering what the heck the Bruins are doing on Sports Sunday last night on CSN.

*Apparently Alex Semin is going to stay in the KHL for this coming season. I don’t think anybody is too heartbroken around the NHL about this given the way things ended for him.

*Buffalo’s Mike Harrington says that Sidney Crosby returns to the Stanley Cup Final with a new kind of hunger

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger goes 1-on-1 with Joe Thornton, who says that the cat likes his Hillbilly Jim playoff beard.

*For something completely different: I haven’t yet read this Joe Posnanski piece on the play Hamilton and his daughter, but I’ll include it because everybody says that it’s great.