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Panthers Notebook: Wideman's Fresh Start ... Panthers Make Cuts After 6-2 Loss to Canadiens

Wideman Just a side note: I left the team in Boston on Sunday and returned home. Therefore, I wasn't with them in Montreal.

Back on the beat Wednesday morning in Sunrise.

That doesn't mean I didn't watch the game tonight...


Bryan McCabe knows exactly what Dennis Wideman went through last year in Boston.

In what would become McCabe's final season in Toronto, the fans turned on McCabe so badly that he even got booed after wins. After being traded to the Panthers in the summer of 2008, the only time McCabe gets the business is when he returns to Toronto.

“It's great for him, to get a breath of fresh air,'' said McCabe, who has three goals and two assists in the four games played in Toronto since being traded to the Panthers. “Sometimes it's nice to go to a non-hockey market and just go to the rink and have fun again. Don't take it so seriously. It does wear on you, it snowballs. God knows I've been through it. I think he's ready for the year, brings a different element.''

Wideman may not have been treated as rough as McCabe was, but he was definitely singled out by the Boston fans last season. Wideman struggled on both sides of the ice as the boos got louder and louder. Wideman rebounded late in the year and finished strong with 11 points in the playoffs. Wideman, with one year left on his contract, was shipped south in the Nathan Horton-Gregory Campbell trade in June.

He says he's looking forward to making new fans in Sunrise.

“I liked Boston, had a great time here, but it's a fresh start here,'' said Wideman. “I just have to play my game, get the puck to the forwards as quick as I can and follow the play. The guys here have been very good, the transition has been very easy. I'm really happy here.''

The Panthers didn't get much offensive production from their defensemen last season, something coach Pete DeBoer says has to change.

In 2008-09, Florida got 49 of its 231 goals (21 percent) from defensemen. Last year, Florida's blueliners accounted for 35 goals (17 percent).

Wideman is expected to help on that end. An offensive-defenseman, Wideman got six goals and 24 assists last season. Even though those numbers were a disappointment, his 30 points would have put him second on the team behind McCabe among Florida defensemen last year. In 2008-09, Wideman scored 13 goals with 37 assists. The Panthers would love to see numbers like that.

Florida's power play – ranked 29th in the league last season – should also benefit from Wideman. A right handed shot (Florida hasn't had one since Nick Boynton in 2008-09), Wideman has been working on the top power play unit with McCabe. Wideman has 17 power play goals with 41 assists in the past three seasons.

“I like the mix we have back there right now,'' said DeBoer. “Wideman is a bona fide offensive defenseman in this league. He had a down year, but there's no defenseman worth his salt who hasn't had a season like that. We think it was just a bump in the road. He's going to bounce back and be a big part of our team. With them he may have been a third or fourth [pairing]; with us, he's a one or two. I think he's ready for that.''

-- The Panthers assigned seven players to minor league camp in Rochester, N.Y., after Monday's game in Montreal. Goalie Tyler Plante as well as wingers Evgeni Dadonov, Michal Repik, Scott Timmins, Mike Duco, Triston Grant and Bill Thomas have joined the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

MONDAY'S PRESEASON GAME – CANADIENS 6, PANTHERS 2: David Booth was back in Montreal for the first time since Jaroslav Spacek ended his 2009-10 season with a jarring hit on March 25.

Booth scored the first goal of the night, but the Canadiens bounced back and scored five unanswered goals to hand the Panthers (3-1-0) their first loss of the preseason. Stephen Weiss scored with 1:53 left for Florida's second goal.

Montreal got to goals from Tomas Plekanec (one shorthanded) and one each from Spacek, Tom Pyatt, Mike Cammalleri and Ryan White.

The Panthers will take Tuesday off and return to the ice Wednesday when they play host to the Carolina Hurricanes at BankAtlantic Center.