Sidelined for nearly the whole first half with an Achilles ailment, seasoned veteran Trent Whitfield used his shortened portion of the 2010-11 season to inadvertently mythologize himself.
His mere presence as captain appeared to translate suitably in the win-loss column as the P-Bruins went 14-18-3 in 35 games without him and 24-18-3 after his return to game-night activity. But beyond that, Whitfield pleasantly startled the local faithful with 18 goals and 18 assists, the majority of that output coinciding with the team’s 12-6-1 stretch run.
At their last gathering, the Dunkin Donuts Center masses emphatically called for Whitfield to be re-signed, and they shall have him for at least two additional seasons starting now.
• Led the team in special-teams’ production with seven power-play goals and two shorthanded strikes. All seven of Whitfield’s power-play conversions came within the final 30 games of the season.
• Took at least one shot on goal in 40 out of 45 games-played, including 33 of the last 34.
• Had nine multipoint games, including four three-point outings, one 2-2-4 performance and eight games with at least one goal and one helper.
• Scored two straight multi-goal games and added three assists to help beat Charlotte and Bridgeport, 4-2 and 6-0 on March 4 and 6, respectively.
• Amassed a 12-10-22 scoring log within 12 games during the month of March.
• Improved his final rating from minus-5 to even over the final six weeks of the season.
• Steadily dropped his rating by 10 points in a span of 10 games between Feb. 11 and Feb. 26.
• Was on the ice for three opposing goals in an 8-2 loss at Springfield Feb. 12.
• Failed to score a goal on 29 shots in eight games between Feb. 13 and Feb. 26.
• Stopped on all eight of his shots and finished with a negative rating in a Feb. 26 loss at Abbotsbord.
• Had a hand in two P-Bruins goals, but was on the ice for all three opposing strikes as Providence blew a 3-1 lead and lost to Connecticut in a shootout March 19.
There likely will not be another March 2011 left in Whitfield, but there should not have to be.
In a full 2011-12 campaign, Whitfield could realistically shoot for the 20-goal range and 50-point plateau while continuously instilling a competitive spirit to the P-Bruins’ many young guns.
If most of the coming year resembles last January, February and April, when Whitfield was not always tangibly pitching in but still fueling a winning cause, then he and his mates will have a more satisfying spot in the standings after Game No. 76.