Whitfield Hopes to Help B's
The veteran pro will help stem the tide at center.
Friday, 01.8.2010 / 4:36 PM ET / Features
By Samantha Wood - BostonBruins.com
It is unlikely that the 32-year old center will try to replace the 32-year old all-star. Who could? Instead, Whitfield’s job is to help the Bruins stem the tide of injuries.
“I just want to come up here, work hard, keep it simple and play solid defense.” Whitfield said. “Hopefully I can contribute offensively, but first of all look after the defensive end.”
In preparation for tomorrow’s match up against the New York Rangers, the Saskatchewan native practiced today with the Bruins at Ristuccia Memorial Arena where Whitfield’s once and future teammates helped him ease the nerves inherent to switching teams.
“Obviously, I’m a little bit tight coming into a new locker room,” said Whitfield. “I know all the guys from before, but you’ve still got to get [reacquainted] with them and just kind of start laughing and joking.
“I just want to loosen up and get myself feeling good for tomorrow.”
Clearly, the 12-year veteran knows what it takes to bolster a team that’s hurting for depth and consistency. So far this season, he’s skated in seven games for the Boston and 26 games for Providence, earning 9-11-20 totals in the American Hockey League.
In 184 NHL games, he’s suited up for the Bruins, Capitals, Blues and even tomorrow’s adversary, the Rangers, and has scored 11 career goals, three of them game-winners.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, though Savard is irreplaceable, he is confident that Whitfield is the man who can help get the Black and Gold back on track.
“We can lean on him as far as playing the role that he’s in right now and he’s been pretty decent on draws,” said Julien. “He’s gritty, he goes in there and gets his nose dirty and he’s pretty safe and reliable and I think that’s what you want from a guy that’s going to come up [from Providence] – somebody that you’re not afraid to throw out there.”
Whitfield, who was watching the last night’s Bruins vs. Blackhawks game when Savard was injured, knows exactly where the B’s deficiencies lie and how he can fill in the gaps.
He said, “They’re down a couple centermen so they need some guys to take some big faceoffs and hopefully I can be that guy for them.”
Whitfield explained that in order to be in contention for a full-time spot in the NHL, a player has to be prepared for any situation and any contingency.
“I stay ready everyday,” he said. “You never know, sometimes it doesn’t even take an injury, so I’m always ready.
“I always just try to play hard every game and keep myself ready in case the call does come.”