Matt Fraser hopes to make most of his shot in playoffs
|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.