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Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey’

05.09.14 at 12:37 am ET
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MONTREAL — It was a lot easier for Claude Julien to admit the obvious after a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4 than the alternative. His team still does not look like the squad that won 54 games and the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points.

If it weren’t for the efforts of a player just called up from Providence to bolster the third line, the Bruins could easily be looking at being down 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday night back at TD Garden.

But Matt Fraser saved the day and Julien was grateful, not only to the player who got 14 games under his belt this season but to his boss Peter Chiarelli, who called Fraser up in time for Game 4. What did Julien expect?

“The winning goal,” Julien quipped. “He’s been playing well lately in Providence and actually has been scoring some goals. He’s been playing some pretty good hockey and he showed that tonight. I liked his game, not because he scored but his whole game. He seemed to be strong on the puck, making some good decisions, wasn’t turning pucks over, seemed to be skating well. It was nice to see [goal] happen. The GM probably deserves the credit because he was the one who called him up. He’s a good player. We knew that. We had him for quite a while there this year. He can certainly shoot the puck and he has a knack to score some goals. In this series, we need that.”

Then Julien seemed to go back to reality, the reality that his top two lines seem stuck in the mud against Montreal’s system, giving them precious little room to maneuver in the offensive zone. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron have been bottled up in this series. Things were so bad that Julien tried to loosen everyone up by completely breaking up the lines in the Thursday morning skate.

“A win was important obviously to get us back in this series,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey. That’s not to downplay this win. We’ve played hard but I know I’ve seen our team play better. But you know it seems to be a process right now and we’re working through it. You hope that this win here helps us to get better anyways, and you go from there.

“There’s no doubt these guys are working hard, they care, they want to. Just because it doesn’t always go as smooth as we like it to be, what I like is we’re showing character and we’re battling through it and trying to find ways to win games.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens

Matt Fraser on his Game 4 OT winner: ‘Words can’t even describe that feeling’

05.08.14 at 11:59 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Boston has a new humble hero and his name is Matt Fraser.

Just seven hours after joining the Bruins on a recall for Justin Florek, Fraser calmly stepped into the playoff fray between the B’s and the Canadiens, scoring the game-winning goal on a rebound from a Carl Soderberg shot just 79 seconds into overtime, giving the desperate Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4 of the second-round series.

Trying to describe his emotions while recollecting the goal that pumped new life into the Bruins, Fraser sounded an extraordinarily genuine and humble tone.

“Words can’t even describe that feeling,” Fraser said. “I just watched the replay of it and, you know, I don’t even want to begin to try and explain that because that’s something I wish every kid could feel.”

What exactly does he remember about the game-winner?

“I wish I could remember,” he said. “It just happened in a blur. The puck got to the net and was bobbling around in front. I tried to sniff it out and knock it in.”

More specifically, it was Johnny Boychuk who fired a shot high off the stanchion behind the net. The puck ricocheted in front of Carey Price, who stopped all previous 34 shots. Soderberg collected the puck and put a shot on net in the low slot. Price couldn’t contain the rebound and Fraser was more than happy to jam at the puck, with some help from Canandiens defenseman Mike Weaver, and put it past Price to even the series, 2-2, heading back to Boston Saturday night for Game 5.

“As you can tell from my voice, it’s pretty exciting,” Fraser said. “I hardly slept today and I’m sure I’ll hardly sleep tonight. But at the same time, you have to keep it in perspective. This is one game. We’ve evened the series and now we have to go back to Boston and come with the same effort.

“I actually turned my phone off today. It’s just easier to focus on the game rather than talk to everyone. It’s most important that I talk to my parents. I always try to talk to them after the game. Hopefully, my dad was impressed with this one.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Carey Price, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens

Matt Fraser the OT hero as Bruins even series

05.08.14 at 10:33 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Matt Fraser proved Claude Julien right for putting him in the lineup, as he scored the only goal of Game 4 to help the Bruins even their second-round series against the Canadiens with a 1-0 overtime win Thursday at the Bell Centre.

Tuukka Rask outdueled Carey Price for the Boston goaltender’s second shutout of the postseason.

Despite struggling to find space and going 0-for-2 on the power play, the Bruins got their chances throughout the night, but continued to hit posts. Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith both fell victim to the iron, with Soderberg hitting the crossbar at the end of the first period and Smith hitting the left post during Boston’s third-period power play.

In the lineup for the B’s were Matt Bartowski and Fraser, the latter of whom was recalled on Wednesday and skated on Boston’s third line. Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros were both healthy scratches after playing Game 3.

Game 5 will be played Saturday night at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

— Rask was big for the Bruins through the first two periods. The Vezina favorite was particularly cruel to Michael Bournvial, who had numerous chances Thursday. Bournival’s best bid came in the first period off a Brad Marchand turnover in the Bruins zone, but Rask stopped that, as well as a shot from the Montreal forward in the second period and a high shot in the third.

That wasn’t all. After the Bruins dominated the first five minutes of the second period, the B’s netminder came up with a big save on a Lars Eller tip. Later in that shift, Brian Gionta missed the puck on the doorstep off a rebound of an Eller shot. Read the rest of this entry »

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Matt Bartkowski, Matt Fraser in Bruins lineup for Game 4 vs. Canadiens

05.08.14 at 7:27 pm ET
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MONTREAL – Matt Bartkowski is back in the lineup for Game 4 of the second round against the Canadiens. Andrej Meszaros was made a healthy scratch after he played in place of Bartkowski in Games 2 and 3.

Matt Fraser also entered the lineup after being recalled Wednesday night. He skated on the third line in warmups, with Daniel Paille moving back to the Merlot Line. Jordan Caron is a healthy scratch. The anticipated lineup is as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller

Rask

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Matt Fraser hopes to make most of his shot in playoffs

05.08.14 at 2:16 pm ET
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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.

Fraser scores left and right in the AHL, but scoring against Carey Price in the NHL playoffs will be a much different animal.

“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.

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Brad Marchand says ‘there’s no need to hit the panic button’ before Game 4

05.08.14 at 1:15 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Montreal Canadiens, NHL

Carl Soderberg is playing; Claude Julien was just playin’ with Bruins lines

05.08.14 at 12:48 pm ET
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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:

Milan LucicPatrice Bergeron – Loui Eriksson
Daniel PailleDavid Krejci – Reilly Smith
Brad MarchandGregory Campbell – Jarome Iginla
Matt Fraser – Jordan Caron – Shawn Thornton

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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Read More: Carl Soderberg, Claude Julien, Matt Fraser,
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