SUN Hockey Pool

Willsie, Wideman getting it done

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Brian Willsie and Dennis Wideman don't play for quality NHL clubs, but that doesn't mean they're not getting their jobs done.

In Washington last Saturday, the grinding Willsie banged in a third-period equalizer, then scored the shootout winner in the Caps' surprising 4-3 win over Philadelphia.

"Hardworking goals, that's kind of the trademark of our team," the Belmont native told the Washington Post. "When we are down in the third, we never feel out of games. I've just been sticking with it. Coach (Glen Hanlon) keeps putting me out there. It's a good feeling when you can chip in."

It also presents a curious coaching decision that crops up now and then with the new game-ending rules. In the dreaded shootout, does a coach select the skaters with the hot hand that game or stick with the top breakaway artists, who show their stuff in practice every day?

A player can bag three goals in a game but couldn't hit the broad side of the barn in a shootout while another could coast through 65 minutes and end up the saviour because of a nifty deke.

In this case, Hanlon elected Willsie and the decision paid off.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues aren't going anywhere near the playoffs this year, which is giving ex-Knight Wideman the chance to earn a long-term job in the NHL.

The 22-year-old blue-liner had three goals and 11 points in 23 games heading into last night's game with Nashville. The Blues play in Detroit against London's Jason Williams and former Knight Brendan Shanahan tonight.

Scouts have told a St. Louis columnist that Wideman isn't expected to become a top-four defenceman in the NHL. But Wideman has never been afraid to shoot the puck and that has impressed the Blues' brass.

If he keeps shooting the puck, he can't help but pick up points.

On a stranger note, Wideman is currently wearing No. 25, which was donned by Pascal Rheaume in St. Louis in 2003-04. If you remember the content of the freaky David Frost-Mike Danton phone conversations recently released in the media, Rheaume's jersey number was the code for the number of thousands of dollars Danton owed his agent.

Rheaume currently plays with San Antonio in the AHL.

New patsy

Former Knight Chris Kelly finally scored a goal against a team other than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kelly struck for his third of the season in Ottawa's 8-3 loss in Atlanta. The 25-year-old's first two goals of the season were both in separate blowout victories over the Buds.

Art Ross's thorn

Since 1948, the Art Ross Trophy has been handed out to the NHL's leading scorer and has never been won by a guy who was traded in midseason. St. Thomas native Joe Thornton needs a few multi-point games to track down Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers, but he could be the first to achieve the feat.

If Big Joe continues to rack up points in San Jose and ends up with the hardware, it will promote extra head-scratching as to why the Bruins decided to deal away their captain and best player.

In the sticks

Corey Perry will try to extend his franchise record 17-game point streak when the Portland Pirates open their second half of the season tomorrow in Hartford. The former London Knight led the AHL for December with 12 goals and 24 points in 13 games since his demotion from Anaheim. Incidentally, anyone interested can vote for Perry to play in the AHL all-star game in Winnipeg this year. To vote, log on to www.theahl.com or link from the Pirates' website at www.portlandpirates.com.


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