WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After the Boston Bruins fell to the New York Rangers 3-1 on Jan. 9, defenseman Dennis Wideman called himself out for his lack of intensity and ability to play at the level that made him a 50-point man and plus-32 blueliner.
Four games later, Wideman's play hasn't improved. In a three-game stretch (he missed Saturday's contest because of illness), he is pointless and has posted a minus-3 rating. Further, he has just one point in his past eight games.
After the Bruins returned to practice Wednesday, it was coach Claude Julien's turn to brutally critique Wideman's play.
"First of all, he's got to bring his intensity up," Julien said of Wideman, who this season is a minus-8 with just 3-11--14 totals. "He's got to have a better compete level. And that's what makes him a great player. He should be easily a top-two, three at worst, defenseman for us, and he's not close to that right now. He knows it, we know it, and he's got to pick up his game."
Julien even broached the idea of cutting the playing time of his team's second-leading ice-time eater.
"At one point, it becomes one of those things where you've got to say, 'We're almost 50 games in now. And it's time to take control of the situation, bring your intensity up. Because if you want to play like a 5 [or] 6 [defenseman], then maybe that's what you're going to get ice time-wise,'" the coach said. "It's pretty simple. We've got to do the right thing for our hockey team, and he knows that he wants to. But he's got to understand his intensity and his compete level have got to be better.
"It's up to him to show us how much ice time he wants to get or how much he wants to help our hockey club."
The defending Jack Adams Trophy-winning coach also took his share of the blame for Wideman's troubles. Considering his poor play, Wideman's status on the club probably should have been threatened earlier. But Julien and his staff have tried the patient approach for four months.
"It has to start in practice. If you let things go by in practice, then why do you think it'll be corrected in the game? That's part of the management. We've got to take some of that responsibility as coaches to get those guys to perform at that level," Julien said. "I'm not excluding myself from that, either. It's up to me to keep pushing him, and I've got to find a way to get this guy to perform. He's too good of a player to watch him perform this way."
McQuaid sent down
The Bruins announced Wednesday that defenseman Adam McQuaid was assigned to Providence and forward Drew Larman was recalled on an emergency basis.