|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.
|Carl Soderberg is playing; Claude Julien was just playin’ with Bruins lines||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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|Bruins call up Matt Fraser, demote Justin Florek||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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|Peter Chiarelli mum on Dennis Seidenberg, Bruins defense’s moving parts||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.’
|P.K. Subban knocks net off, Dale Weise mocks Bruins with celebration||05.06.14 at 11:28 pm ET|
MONTREAL — P.K. Subban regularly gets the Bruins off their game. In Game 3, he got the net off its moorings, which may have cost the Bruins the game.
With the B’s pushing to tie a 3-2 game in the final seconds of the game, the Canadiens defenseman — who had a goal and an assist in the game — skated into the goal post and knocked it off. Had he been called for it, the Bruins would have had a power play by virtue of a delay of game minor.
“After [Subban] rimmed the puck, Torey [Krug] got the puck and he found me. I had so much room in front of me, I could have walked in. You never what can happen with 8-10 seconds left,” David Krejci said. “Yeah, it was frustrating at the time, but I don’t know if that was a penalty or not.”
Patrice Bergeron is as measured a human being as there is, yet he struggled to downplay the infraction when asked about it after the game.
“He’s playing the clock and he’s trying to make something happen,” Bergeron said. “Maybe he felt that we were coming hard. You’ve got to leave it to the refs, and they didn’t make the call. It’s about bearing down and starting a lot earlier to make it a game.”
Meanwhile, Dale Weise pulled off a pretty good mock chest-pound after his second-period goal. The Bruins have celebrated big goals this season by pounding their chest repeatedly, with Milan Lucic and Krug taking part. After beating Tuukka Rask five-hole on a breakaway Tuesday, Weise got in on the fun.
|Bruins can’t finish comeback as Canadiens take Game 3||05.06.14 at 9:56 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bruins weren’t able to complete their now regular comeback Tuesday as they fell behind by multiple goals and — get this — lost Game 3 of the second round against the Canadiens in regulation at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins spotted Montreal a 3-0 lead in the first two periods, and though Jarome Iginla brought the B’s within one with the extra attacker on with 2:16 left, Carey Price and the Canadiens held on and Lars Eller scored an empty netter to give the Canadiens a 4-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.
Tomas Plekanec scored Montreal’s first goal, with Thomas Vanek sending a slap pass from the point to Plekanec and the Montreal center putting the puck in the open net with Tuukka Rask respecting Vanek’s angle. After P.K. Subban was sent off for a questionable hit on Reilly Smith, Dougie Hamilton misplayed a two-on-two with Subban coming out of the box, leading to a breakaway goal and a 2-0 Canadiens lead that was taken into the first intermission.
Dale Weise made it 3-0 at 13:52 of the second, slipping past Andrej Meszaros and Johnny Boychuk and taking a long pass from Danny Briere before beating Rask on a breakaway. The play came as a result of Mike Weaver blocking a Meszaros shot.
The Bruins finally got on the board when Patrice Bergeron won an offensive zone draw and dished to Brad Marchand before getting to the front of the net and tipping a Torey Krug shot past Carey Price to make it 3-1.
Game 4 will be played Thursday at the Bell Centre.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— That’s a major goof on Hamilton’s part with Subban getting out of the box and a two-on-two unfolding. Hamilton skated across to take out Eller, though Bergeron already was on Eller. With Hamilton skating further and further out of position, Eller hit Subban with a pass to set up the breakaway.
In general, it didn’t appear to be Hamilton’s night, as he also had a defensive zone turnover early in the second that could have been costly. The B’s second-year defenseman has enjoyed a very productive postseason (two goals and four assists for six points), but Tuesday served as a reminder that he’s still 20 years of age.
|Dare to dream: Bruins hope to keep things 5-on-5 at Bell Centre||05.06.14 at 1:57 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bell Centre can be a tough place to play, especially in the postseason.
The fans are crazy and the pregame presentation is second to none, but home ice calls overshadow everything. The Canadiens get their power plays one way or another, and if their power play is anything like it’s been the last two games, they score.
Yet with nine power plays in the first two games of the series in Boston, the Canadiens proved something that was proven throughout the regular season: They get calls anywhere. Montreal had 140 power plays at home this season and 139 on the road.
As such, it’s safe to assume the Habs will get something like nine power plays over the next two games. Whether it’s the same way they got them in Boston — with some diving, some should-be matching minors that weren’t matching and the Bruins losing their cool — remains to be seen. Either way, the B’s have to know the power plays for Montreal are coming.
When they do, the Bruins have to look more like the group that held the Red Wings to two power play goals and less like the group that has allowed four goals to Montreal through two games.
The biggest issue has been stopping P.K. Subban, who has been able to get too many pucks to the net. Only one of the four goals he’s created (two scored, two assisted) has come off a one-timer, with the others being a normal slap shot, a wrist shot and a pass.
The solution there is getting in the shooting lanes and stopping those bids, which for whatever reason the B’s haven’t done. Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand have all been guilty parties in that regard.
‘That’s one of the areas we have to be better at,” Chara said Tuesday morning. “He’s putting those shots really quickly through our players and we’ve got to make sure we do a better job.’
It goes without saying, but if the Bruins can stay out of the box, they’ll be in tremendous shape. The B’s were the best five-on-five team in the NHL this season and have outscored the Canadiens, 7-2 in the second round.
“Five-on-five I thought we’ve played very well. Carey Price is a good goalie and he’s made some big saves, but I think that we’ve had enough chances that we can win games five-on-five,” Reilly Smith said. “We’ve been the stronger team five-on-five for sure.”
Perhaps the most notable penalty thus far wasn’t given to a player at all, but rather Claude Julien. The Bruins were given a bench minor late in the second period of Game 2 when Claude Julien cussed out an official.
The B’s don’t want that to happen again, but Julien said Tuesday that he isn’t ashamed of the penalty.
“I don’t regret doing what I did,” Julien said. “I thought I stood up for my team at the time. But the biggest thing there is is you turn around and you tell your team to turn the page and go out there in the third and play the way they can. That’s part of the message that our team has to take from the last game. When we focus on the things we can control, it’s a lot more beneficial than not.”
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