BOSTON -- Carl Soderberg is very much aware that he could have been headed to Sochi this week with a lot of his Swedish countrymen to take part in the Olympic hockey tournament. The 28-year-old essentially closed that door when he eschewed last spring’s world championships for a chance to sign in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, and chase a long delayed dream to play pro hockey in North America.
The word out of Sweden at the time was that Soderberg would be closing the door on playing for his country if he skipped out to Boston prior to the world championships.
So it wasn’t a shock when the 6-foot-3, 225-pound forward’s name was left off the roster for Team Sweden that’s got a good chance to medal in Russia despite the nine goals and 21 points he’s produced in 49 games with Boston. Soderberg wasn’t bitter about the situation, however, and instead said he’ll still be watching and rooting for his Swedish hockey peers.
Even without the injured Henrik Sedin, the Swedish should be a force on the Olympic sheet with Daniel Sedin, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Lundqvist, fellow Bruins Loui Eriksson and Henrik Zetterberg leading the way.
“I am going to watch it, for sure, especially the playoffs. Maybe the first round isn’t that…I don’t know…I think the best teams will make the playoffs, then it's fun to watch,” said Soderberg. “Two years ago, I wasn’t even close to getting on the Olympic team. Then I’ve played great hockey now in two seasons so I’m close. But I’ll take my break, and cheer for the team.”
Soderberg looks even more the part of an Olympian with the way he’s played since sliding over to center on Boston's third line. In the last seven games manning the middle, Soderberg has three goals and four assists along with a plus-2 rating, and scored another beautiful goal in Boston’s 7-2 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators in the pre-Olympic break finale.
While the Big Swede is perfectly okay with playing left wing, he admitted that there’s a higher comfort level and confidence when he’s bombing down the middle of the ice playing center. Indeed the move to keep him at center while sliding Chris Kelly over to the left wing has brought out more speed and offensive creativity from Soderberg to go along with his gritty willingness to throw his big body around in front of the net.
“I don’t know…I think I keep my speed better on the attack [at center],” said Soderberg. “I’ve just been confident. When Kells [Chris Kelly] came back from his injury our line seemed to be a little bit stronger.
“Then I got the opportunity to play center too, and obviously that’s the spot I’ve been playing the last couple years. I feel a little bit better there but I can play wing as well.”
The three shots on net and three takeaways in Saturday’s blowout win certainly reveal a player very active in all zones, but Soderberg is still a work in progress after a 2-for-9 performance in the face-off circle.
Now Soderberg can head to Florida with his eight months pregnant wife for a little rest and relaxation during the Olympic break, watch a little Olympic hockey to pass the time, and focus on bringing more of his best in the 25 games remaining when the NHL resumes at the end of February.