|Matt Fraser gets defensive and shows he can help fill void for Brad Marchand||11.19.14 at 12:59 am ET|
Ever since scoring the overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second round last spring, every Bruins fan knew the kid could score.
But on Tuesday night, they saw a different side of Fraser, the tough, gritty side, giving the Bruins exactly what they needed with Brad Marchand out with an unspecified injury.
Fraser played all 20 shifts with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith as the Bruins beat the Blues, 2-0, at TD Garden.
“Obviously, I like scoring goals,” Fraser said. “I like to be an offensive threat. But you’re not going to be that kind of guy every night. There’s going to be times when you have to be relied upon to be a defensive, sound player. I think on this team, that’s more my ‘ it’s not my job, but I have to broaden my game a little bit because every guy in this room is good defensively. That’s how this franchise has built their system: you got to be good defensively. You got to make sure you’re good in all three zones.”
The irony is that Fraser did score a goal – with nine seconds left in the second period – but it was disallowed when referee Chris Lee ruled Fraser slammed into Blues goalie Brian Elliot before Elliot could play the puck.
“To me it should have been a goal,” coach Claude Julien said. “In my mind the puck’s in, it hits him, and it goes in before he even touches the goaltender. But those are unfortunately not reviewable, so he gets deprived from a goal. But the other part ‘ he deserves a lot of credit for his, he was on the line that played against their top-scoring line and defensively I thought he was very reliable. He played big, he played strong with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and [Reilly] Smith. I think that line did a great job against the [Vladimir] Tarasenko line.”
|Five things we learned as Bruins beat Senators without David Krejci||11.01.14 at 9:40 pm ET|
On paper, Saturday’s game against the Senators looked to be perhaps the hardest game of a relatively soft part of the Bruins’ schedule. The B’s were able to take care of it with a 4-2 win despite missing one of their best players.
A source told WEEI.com Saturday night that Krejci continues to deal with the hip injury that forced him to miss the first three games of the season. Krejci has been playing through pain and getting great results on the ice, but was finally given a night off on Saturday.
With Krejci out, the Bruins used the following lineup:
Lucic – Kelly – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman
Krejci will continue to battle his hip injury, but it’s unknown how many more games, whether sporadically throughout the season or otherwise, it will cost him.
Here are four other things we learned Saturday night:
FRASER GETS TO PLAY HIS POSITION
Matt Fraser will do whatever the Bruins ask of him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be great at it. He needs to play left wing, preferably with some guys who can play. He did Saturday and scored two goals.
For just the second time this season, the left-shooting Fraser played on the left side. With Kelly moving up to Krejci’s spot, Fraser was able to slot in on the left wing of Carl Soderberg’s line with Loui Eriksson, reuniting a trio that looked good last postseason against the Canadiens.
In Fraser’s other four games this season, he was used as the right wing on a line with a rusty Milan Lucic and struggling Ryan Spooner (three games) and on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell last month in Buffalo.
Saturday marked the first time this season Fraser got a chance to play his position with a line that could do some offensive damage and got two goals out of it.
The first goal came just as Fraser was getting onto the ice, as he whacked a rebound past Robin Lehner with Eriksson in front. It was his second goal, scored just 1:28 later, that really showed why he’s deserving of NHL minutes. Fraser caught up to a beauty of a pass from Soderberg in the offensive zone and fired a snap shot over Lehner’s glove.
Because of his shot alone, Fraser should be an NHL player. When he doesn’t get to use it, he isn’t of much use out there. In his first four games of the season, Fraser had just two shots on goal. He had five Saturday, two of which went in.
MARCHAND HITS HIS STRIDE
For two straight seasons, Brad Marchand has responded to a slow start by catching fire.
Fortunately for the Bruins, it didn’t take him 26 games like it did last season. Marchand had just one goal over the first 11 games of the season, but after scoring the tying and winning goals Thursday against Buffalo, Marchand picked up his fourth goal of the season in the first period Saturday.
The goal was a positive sign for a Patrice Bergeron line that is coming around after a slow start. Bergeron won an offensive zone faceoff back to Marchand, who fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that trickled past Lehner to open the game’s scoring.
Given the way the last two seasons have gone, Marchand is establishing himself as a streaky player. At least he’s streaking the right way at this point.
SEIDENBERG OVERCOMES ROUGH LUCK
Technically, Dennis Seidenberg lost the puck to Mark Stone along the wall in the offensive zone, leading to an Ottawa 2-on-1 on which Stone scored in the first period. Replays showed that Seidenberg had to battle more than Stone, as the linesman got in the way, preventing Seidenberg from retaining the puck.
In the third period, the hockey gods made up for Seidenberg’s bad break when a puck squirted out to the top of the left circle. Seidenberg stepped into it and blasted it past Lehner, whose vision was obstructed by a screening Bergeron. The goal was Seidenberg’s first of the season.
Seidenberg later got beaten by Mika Zibanejad in front on the Senators’ second goal of the night.
BRUINS ARE STICKING WITH JOE MORROW
For the second straight game, the Bruins scratched Matt Bartkowski in favor of the former Penguins‘ first-round pick.
To be fair, the Bruins had healthy scratches in mind for Bartkowski when they signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million contract this offseason, but he without a doubt topped the ‘next guy up’ list. For him to be sitting with three of the team’s regular defensemen out of the lineup is a clear sign that both he and the team know he hasn’t been himself this season and that the Bruins are confident in Morrow.
Just how confident? After playing 17:51 against the Sabres (including an overtime shift), the B’s gave Morrow over 16 minutes for a second straight game. Bartkowski’s season-high is 20:57, which he played on Oct. 23 against the Islanders, but the Bruins have kept Bartkowski under 15 minutes in three of his five games.
|Bruins prepare to host Wild||10.27.14 at 1:08 pm ET|
Unsurprisingly given the way it performed Saturday against the Maple Leafs, the Bruins kept their lineup the same in Monday’s practice at TD Garden.
Dougie Hamilton, who had three points (a goal and two assists) Saturday, remained with Dennis Seidenberg as the Bruins prepare to host the Wild on Tuesday.
The rest of the lines and defensive pairings were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman
Seventh defenseman Joe Morrow was sent to Providence Sunday, while Matt Fraser remains the team’s 13th forward. Fraser, who had a strong camp for the B’s but struggled early in the season playing his off wing, has not played since last Saturday in Buffalo.
“Like anybody else, I’m sure he wants to play,” Claude Julien said. “I’d be disappointed if he didn’t, but that’s where he’s at right now. He’s had some opportunities and in the first [part] of the season, he’s been just OK. He’s a young player, so he’s just kind of biding his time there. When he gets that opportunity to get back in, he’s got to be ready. He’s no different than anybody else that’s been in that position before.”
The Wild are 4-2-0 on the season with an NHL-best plus-13 goal differential. Minnesota has won two straight but will be on the second leg of a back-to-back after they play the Rangers Monday in New York.
|Milan Lucic apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ Bruins vs. Canadiens||10.18.14 at 1:13 pm ET|
Milan Lucic apologized Saturday morning for the fine-warranting gesture he made at Canadiens fans Thursday night.
Lucic made the obscene gesture as he entered the penalty box with 1:20 to play in the Bruins’ eventual 6-4 loss to the Canadiens. He argued with a referee after the Habs added a power play empty-netter, which earned him a game misconduct. He did not speak to the media after the game and was fined $5,000 for the gesture on Friday.
“I’m not proud of what I did there. I just want to apologize to our organization for embarrassing the Bruins organization,” Lucic told reporters Saturday morning in Buffalo.
“I also want to apologize to our fans and also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Canadiens fans,” he added. “I know they can get under your skin sometimes but they are great fans. I apologize for my actions. I regret what I did.”
Lucic had a pair of assists in Thursday’s game, which were his first two points of the season. According to ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Simon Gagne skated on Lucic’s line with David Krejci in Saturday’s morning skate after finishing the last two games in that spot. Gagne scored late in Thursday’s game while playing with the duo.
Matt Fraser reportedly skated on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Such a move is interesting, as Paille played right wing Thursday when Gagne was on the line. Perhaps that was preparation for Fraser, far more effective on the left wing than on the right, to return to the lineup in the position he plays best.
|Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner struggling to find confidence||10.12.14 at 2:54 pm ET|
It isn’t that the Ryan Spooner experiment isn’t working, or that the Matt Fraser experiment isn’t working; the Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser experiment isn’t working.
The two young forwards enjoyed success playing together on Providence’s first line last season, but struggled to do much for Boston when called up for third-line duty in the middle of the season. The first three games of this season, in which Spooner centered Milan Lucic and Fraser, were all the Bruins needed to see before pulling the plug. Claude Julien flipped Spooner and second-line left wing Chris Kelly late in Saturday’s loss to the Capitals, and, by the looks of Sunday’s practice, has now taken Fraser out of the lineup.
Spooner skates. Fraser shoots. Yet when they play together, they do neither. Through three games, Fraser has just one shot on goal.
Whatever the cause of it may be (Spooner says it’s mental) their poor start to the season has played a part in Sunday’s lineup shakeup. With Seth Griffith skating with David Krejci and Lucic Sunday and Patrice Bergeron‘s line remaining unchanged, Spooner was demoted to the fourth line and Fraser was bounced from the lineup. Spooner centered Daniel Paille and Jordan Caron, the latter of whom is expected to replace Bobby Robins.
Both Spooner and Fraser are clearly lacking confidence right now, with Fraser serving as his harshest critic.
“At the end of the day, we’re all good players,” Fraser said. “You’ve got to make the coach put you on the ice. For me, it was probably an easy decision for him to say, ‘No. Fraz doesn’t deserve to go.’ It’s hard to look in the mirror and recognize that and say, ‘Yeah. I don’t deserve to be in the lineup.’ That alone is very frustrating.”
Though Fraser is down on himself at the moment, it’s hard to see him staying out of the lineup for long. He’s a left wing playing the right side, which obviously doesn’t help, but his shot and goal-scoring prowess can be lethal if utilized properly.
Fraser’s success has come on the left side. He played there in the AHL, and his struggles as Spooner’s linemate at the NHL last season came on the right side. When he was recalled during the second round of the playoffs to play with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, he was on the left and was effective despite playing on a broken foot.
There isn’t a left wing spot for Fraser to play, however. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic have cemented their spots on the first two lines, while Kelly holds down the spot that Fraser played last postseason. Paille is playing left wing on the fourth line. The Bruins need right wings, and Fraser insists he can do the job. The problem, he says, is his execution.
“At the end of the day, there’s all the Xs and Os you want, but if you’re not prepared to work hard enough to get to those spots, you’re not prepared to work in the offensive zone to get my shot off, it’s useless,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I can make up all the excuses in the world about my play or anything like that, but at the end of the day it falls on my shoulders. There’s no one that can correct it but me.”
As for Spooner, he can count himself fortunate that he survived Sunday’s lineup shakeup. Fourth-line center Craig Cunningham was sent down, but the B’s could have kept him and demoted Spooner.
“I’m not really happy with myself and how I’ve been playing,” Spooner said Sunday.
Spooner’s problem last season was that he didn’t shoot or take pucks to the net. So this summer, he shot 200-300 pucks a day to gain confidence in his shot.
Just three games into the season, Spooner admits he’s fallen back into his old habits, and he plans to better apply his offseason work going forward.
“I still need to shoot more. I’ve had some chances where I should have gone to the net. It’s just how I am. I’ve always been a pass-first kind of guy,” Spooner said. “I think for me, it’s just a mental thing. I’ve got to put it in the back of my mind to shoot more. It’s the only way you can score.”
|David Pastrnak sent to AHL, Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner, Bobby Robins make Bruins for now||10.07.14 at 1:09 pm ET|
Though Peter Chiarelli said that there is still some “roster manipulation” to be done on the part of the Bruins between now and the start of the season for the purposes of maximizing cap space, the Bruins’ roster became more clear leading up to Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Right wing David Pastrnak has been sent to Providence of the AHL for the time being. The 2014 first-round pick is there in order to further acclimate himself with the North American game while the Bruins continue to evaluate him. Pastrnak suffered a shoulder injury in his second practice of training camp and missed all but two games of the preseason.
Chiarelli said that the B’s will likely take “two to three weeks” to assess what they have in Pastrnak at the AHL level. The B’s can play him in the NHL for up to nine games before burning a year off his entry level contract. If Pastrnak plays the season in the AHL, his contract will slide to the next season, meaning that his first NHL season will count as the first of three seasons on his entry level deal.
Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner and Bobby Robins have made the team for now. Fraser seems like a sure thing to earn a full-time spot, while Spooner’s play late in the preseason helped his case to begin the season in Boston.
David Krejci missed Tuesday’s practice and is questionable for Wednesday’s season-opener against the Flyers.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins drop preseason opener to Canadiens||09.23.14 at 11:18 pm ET|
The Canadiens defeated the Bruins, 3-2, in the teams’ preseason opening game Tuesday at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins jumped out to a two-goal lead on goals from Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser, but three unanswered goals from Jiri Sekac, Christian Thomas and Drayson Bowman gave Montreal the victory.
Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban both played net for the Bruins, with Svedberg making 16 saves on 18 shots over two periods and Subban stopping nine of 10 shots in the third.
The Bruins will host the Capitals Wednesday at TD Garden in the second game of their seven-game preseason schedule.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara