|05.08.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Last postseason, the Bruins got their money’s worth on a couple of call-ups from Providence during the playoffs, as Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug solidified themselves as NHL players after starting the postseason with Providence. Matt Fraser can only hope he has the same experience now.
Recalled Wednesday night, Fraser could get his first taste of the NHL playoffs as early as Thursday night’s Game 4 against the Canadiens. A left wing with a terrific shot, Fraser spent most of his first season in the Bruins organization (he joined the Stars as an undrafted free went in 2011 and was traded to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal) in Providence. He played 14 games for Boston this year after getting 12 NHL games in last season with the Stars, and after plenty of success at the AHL level (he had 70 goals over his first two seasons with the Texas Stars), he just wants to stick in the NHL for good.
“If you’re going north or south on the 95, it can really make your day a lot better or a lot worse,” Fraser said Thursday. “This is definitely where you want to be. Different players take different time in the American League. You take it as a blessing in disguise and just work on your game and do what you can to get back here.”
Fraser was having lunch in Providence as he and the P-Bruins were preparing for the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when he got the call from B’s assistant general manager Don Sweeney. The message was to get on the next flight to Montreal, as the B’s were recalling Fraser and returning Justin Florek to Providence.
“I think as a kid you play for the Stanley Cup a thousand times on the streets and the outdoor rink and stuff like that, but not in this environment,” Florek said. “It’s exciting obviously for sure. I’m not trying to downplay that at all, but at the same time, once you get out there, you’ve got to find your room and just play your game.”
It’s the “play your game” part that is most intriguing. The 6-foot-2, 204-pounder’s biggest asset is his shot, but the Canadiens have been blocking shots left and right — they led the league in the regular season and blocked 29 shots in Game 3 — and Carey Price is in stop-everything-he-sees mode.
“He’s obviously a world-class goalie. He’s who he is, he’s developed that. You’ve got to find a way to get it through,” Fraser said. “It’s playoff hockey. There’s not going to be a lot of opportunities, so you’ve got to make sure when you have one, you put your best behind it.”
Added Fraser: “You always try and find your spots and get it off as quickly as you can. And you know it’s probably even harder now with how tight the playoffs are and everything like that, but you’ve got to have confidence in yourself to hold onto that puck for that extra second and make sure that you can make that extra play, when you get the chance and let it go.”
The other question is where Fraser will play if he is in Boston’s lineup. Fraser played 11 of his 14 games in Boston on the third line with Carl Soderberg, but that was when Soderberg was playing the wing, while Ryan Spooner was center. Whatever role Fraser serves, assuming he plays, will involve some uncharted territory with high stakes.
“I’m not going to be picky wherever they put me, that’s for sure,” Fraser said. “Again, I don’t know if I’m in, I don’t know if I’m out. All these guys in this dressing room are so good, everyone, they’re such a good NHL player that it’s pretty seamlessly you can fit in.”
Just don’t ask Claude Julien where Fraser will play.
“We’re going to make some game-time decisions as far as our roster’s concerned, guys,” the coach said.
|05.08.14 at 1:15 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Brad Marchand and the Bruins have been through the Stanley Cup playoff wars over the last four years and a little 2-1 hole in the second round against the Canadiens isn’t going to faze them one bit. Even if the pivotal Game 4 is again on the very hostile ice of the Bell Centre.
“There’s no need to panic here,” Marchand said. “It’s 2-1. It’s not like it’s 3-0 [down] here right now. There’s no need to hit the panic button. We have a lot of really good leadership in here. We’ve been in a lot of situations before, and I think we just want to make sure we put our best game on the ice.
“We’re definitely not in the position we prefer to be in but we’re here and we want to definitely try to make the most of our opportunities. These guys are a huge challenge. They’re playing very well right now and we definitely have a big job to be prepared tonight.”
Marchand was playing it cool when asked about being separated from his typical line mates of Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith for the morning skate. Head coach Claude Julien said he was just having some fun with reporters who were watching the morning skate seven hours before Game 4.
“Every time he’s switched it up before, that’s normally how we start so we’d have to expect the same thing,” Marchand said. “We really just want to focus on our individual jobs and how we have to play. If that’s the lineup, we’re going to play the exact same way we do every night and just make sure we work hard. It doesn’t happen a lot but I’m sure there’s a reason whenever he does and he’s the coach. He makes those decision and we just live by them.”
More than who plays on which lines, Marchand knows full well it won’t matter if the Bruins aren’t winning the puck battles and taking care of their assignments in their own zone, something they failed to do at critical times in Game 3 Tuesday night.
“You look at their goals last game, they were all missed assignments by us. We left guys alone and they capitalized on them,” Marchand said. “So we definitely have to be more aware and definitely be better on our details.”
The Bruins, when they have been successful in recent years in the playoffs have imposed their will in critical games like Thursday’s Game 4. Marchand said Thursday morning they definitely need more of that than they showed in Game 3.
“I think we definitely could do a little bit more. They’re a very skilled team and you want to be physical on guys like that but they’re playing physical, too. We’re trying to take the opportunities when they’re there but we don’t want to take penalties and be reckless so we definitely have to do it within the rules.
“We definitely want to play our game a little bit more, be a little more physical on them, try to battle a little more in the corners. We turned a few too many pucks over at the blue lines so we definitely want to try and clean that up.”
|05.08.14 at 12:48 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Carl Soderberg was absent from the Bruins’ morning skate Thursday, but Claude Julien said that the player simply “took his option” and will be available to the team for Game 4 against the Canadiens.
Matt Fraser was on the ice after joining the team in Montreal Wednesday night. It is unknown whether the sharp-shooting 23-year-old will be in the lineup or where he will play.
Julien offered only this: “We’re going to make some game-time decisions as far as our roster’s concerned, guys.”
Now for the fun part. Julien, who is extremely secretive with what he reveals to the media during the postseason, had a bit of a chuckle making his lines for Thursday’s skate, and the result was a group of forward lines that has absolutely no shot of seeing time together when the puck is dropped. The lines were:
Julien was asked after the morning skate if he was serious with his morning skate lines. Julien indicated he wasn’t, which pretty much should have gone without saying.
“Oh, I think it just gives you guys something to write about so you don’t get bored,” Julien said. “Then tonight I can decide whether I want to stick with those or put my lines back to what I want.”
The Boston coach was then asked why he went with silly lines.
“I think you’re overthinking, honestly,” Julien said. “We have fun with things sometimes and that’s all we’re doing right now. We’re OK. We’re just having fun with things. If you guys want to write about that stuff, that’s fine, but we’re OK in there. We’re just focusing on our game.”
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|05.08.14 at 8:07 am ET|
The Bruins announced Thursday that they have recalled forward Matt Fraser and returned Justin Florek to Providence on Thursday.
Fraser, 23, scored two goals for the Bruins in 14 games this season and had 20 goals for Providence in 44 games. The B’s acquired Fraser last July 4 in their trade with the Stars.
The young scorer’s biggest asset is his shot, and it will be interesting to see where Claude Julien plays him in the lineup if at all. Fraser played on a line with Carl Soderberg in 12 of his 14 NHL games this season. Soderberg is currently centering the third line with Daniel Paille and Loui Eriksson.
Florek played the entire first round against the Red Wings in Boston’s lineup but was a healthy scratch in Games 2 and 3 against Montreal. Paille’s return to the lineup for Game 1 of the series made Jordan Caron a scratch while Florek stayed in the lineup, but the B’s opted for Caron over Florek after that.
The Bruins resume their series with the Canadiens on Thursday night with Game 4 in Montreal.
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|05.07.14 at 2:35 pm ET|
BROSSARD, Quebec — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made himself available to the media Wednesday at Bell Sports Complex, but there was no special announcement or message revealed.
It’s very rare for general managers to speak during a series, and when they do, it’s with a specific message in mind. Chiarelli had none, and he opened the availability by declining comment in response to a question about whether Dennis Seidenberg could be close to a return.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Chiarelli said. “I haven’t all last series or this series. “He is skating, as you can see and stuff, but that’s all I can say.”
Seidenberg, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in early January, has been skating for weeks and is now practicing with the team. He has still yet to take contact, which would rule out any shot at him returning this series. The veteran defenseman told the Boston Globe Tuesday that he feels ready to play, but the lack of contact would suggest he isn’t close enough.
As for the players the B’s have used to fill Seidenberg’s spot on the left side of the second pairing, Chiarelli was asked about his confidence in Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros. Bartkowski missed the first two games of the first round with the flu, but after struggling in Games 4 and 5 against Detroit and taking the penalty that led to P.K. Subban‘s double-overtime goal in Game 1 of the second round, was benched in favor of Meszaros.
Meszaros hasn’t fared much better, as he also took a penalty that led to a power play goal in Game 2 and he had a poor showing in Game 3 even considering that he shot the puck that Jarome Iginla tipped past Carey Price with 2:16 remaining. The low point of the game for Meszaros was when Dale Weise slipped past both he and Johnny Boychuk, leading to a breakaway goal after Daniel Briere sent a pass up to the fourth-liner.
Given both players’ struggles, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the Bruins will go with for Thursday’s Game 4.
‘That’s a lineup decision,” Chiarelli said. “These guys have been good for us. Bart has been good for us. He had to come in when Seidenberg got hurt. And he had to find his game and he had to fit in, and he’s done that. He got sick and he got out of sync a little bit. Mez, we acquired Mez in a trade. I didn’t mind his game last night. I know there’s … I think everyone can make a mistake here or there. He made a good play on the goal. So my confidence level is really irrelevant.’
|05.07.14 at 11:12 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’s 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins once again got off to a slow start in Game 3, as Boston trailed 3-0 before finally getting on the board with a little over two minutes remaining in the second period thanks to a goal from Patrice Bergeron.
“I think it’s just uncharacteristic,” Thornton said. “I know the one coming out of the power play, maybe you should be aware of the clock, but it looked like we were in control. Yelling from the bench, you actually can’t hear it, to be completely honest. That’s one of the home-ice advantages, I guess. It’s just a couple of plays that were maybe a little uncharacteristic of us and end up in the back of our net. Give them credit, they capitalized on the chances that we gave them.”
Bruins netminder Tukka Rask once again took the loss after stopping 21 of 24 shots on the night. Rask has allowed nine goals in three games during the series.
“He’ll be good. He’s done a good job. His whole career, he’s been a really good professional — just banking things, knowing it happened and then moving on to the next one,” Thornton said, adding: “He’s just one of the best team guys that I’ve seen as a goalie. He’ll be great today, he’ll be focused on tomorrow. It’s 2-1, it’s not the start we wanted, but we plan on it being a long series.”
Thornton said the team’s usual stout defense should once again be present on the ice in Game 4.
“It’s more about just playing our game. … We had some chances and we had some sustained pressure and all that, but we are very strong defensively and we don’t normally give up backdoor passes or two or three breakaways a game. That just doesn’t happen with us,” he said.
|05.07.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“That was not one of their better games. I don’t understand it,” the former Bruins coach said. “They spot teams a 3-0 lead and think they’re going to come back in the third period. It’s a dumb way to play.”
The Bruins were hurt by a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to early Canadiens goals, and Cherry said their failure to be prepared to play hard and focused from the opening faceoff is an issue that continues to haunt them.
“It’s funny, you can sit here and dissect it. You have to be behind the bench to realize that Montreal is going to come out flying,” Cherry said. “They have their favorite singer. You have to be ready for something like that. It’s easy to say. I’ve been there many times before.
“There’s so many mistakes made, even down to the one where [Tuukka] Rask doesn’t bang his stick on the breakaway. You’re taught in junior, in bantams, when you see a penalty near the end, you bang your stick to warn the guys. Here’s a guy that’s not ready. They just don’t seem to be ready. They think that they can come back all the time in the third period. They seem to be relying on that third period all the time. They don’t play desperate right now. I’m telling you, they better start, because they’re sky high, Montreal is sky high.”
Added Cherry: “You’ve got to play like [Brad] Marchand. Believe it or not, he was plus-2 last night. He is a guy that they’ve got to look to. He plays like that all the time, and that’s the way they’ve got to play. They were fast asleep the first two periods.”
The Bruins’ problems start in goal, where Rask has continued his career-long struggles against the Canadiens, while Carey Price has come up with some big saves at the other end.
“Rask is not playing the way Rask can play. … Price is outplaying him, that’s for sure,” Cherry said. “Rask is not playing like he did in the season for some reason. Montreal’s got — I don’t know if they’ve got his number or what. But he’s not the Rask that I know.
“But here’s the thing that bothers me, is the Bruins were out-hit last night. Imagine the Bruins being out-hit by those little midgets with Montreal. They’re just not ready. And if they’re not ready, it’s going to be a short series.”
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