PHILADELPHIA -- Whether it was simply getting over the initial nerves of playing in his first NHL game or moving back to his more natural position at center, Carl Soderberg looked much more comfortable in his second game for the Bruins Sunday against the Panthers.
Soderberg was flying up the middle of the ice on line rushes with Chris Kelly on his left, and Jaromir Jagr moving down the right wing. He ended up taking four face-offs (won two) to the six draws taken by Kelly, but Soderberg was also more active than he was in his first game as a Bruin. He put one shot on net and a registered hit in his 15:28 of ice time.
“I have been playing center man for two years now, so of course I am more comfortable at center man,” said Soderberg, who picked up his first-career assist on Jagr’s first period goal. “But I’ve also played wing earlier in my career for a couple of more years, so I feel fine at both.
“I’ve only played two games so far, and I only played four games in the last six weeks . . . so it’s been tough for me. The timing has been coming along for me, and hopefully it just keeps getting better and better.”
It was a good move to place Soderberg at center where he's more comfortable, taking him out of the one-on-one battles in the corners where he doesn’t seem as well-equipped. It’s likely the Bruins leave him at center while evaluating him in the handful of games prior to the playoffs. Admittedly that’s a difficult situation for a 27-year-old with no prior pro experience in the North American game.
“[Soderberg] was better [Sunday] than he was [Saturday]. We put him at center [Sunday] and put Kelly on the wing. For him it’s getting used to playing on North American ice and this kind of a game,” said Claude Julien. “He’s made good strides in his first two games. So he’s got four more games again to get better. He’s a very confident individual and he will be good for us.”
If Soderberg continues to make strides then perhaps he’ll get into the playoff lineup for the Black and Gold. If not, then he’ll continue his education watching the speed and intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a front row seat.