CHICAGO -- The Bruins certainly made things a little interesting during Friday morning practice back at TD Garden by switching Swedish import Carl Soderberg in with underachieving winger Kaspars Daugavins on the fourth line. The Big Swede hasn’t played since the end of the regular season on April 28, and had a pair of assists and a minus-2 in six NHL games.
“Just seeing him practice, he has a lot of skill and he definitely works hard,” said Tyler Seguin.
A fair and honest assessment of Soderberg: he clearly had an NHL caliber shot along with ideal power forward size, but his battle level in six games wasn’t sufficient for the NHL regular season.
That would make it even less satisfactory for the playoffs, but perhaps he’s picked up a few things while practicing with the team over the last few months. Soderberg is something of a cult hero among fans, but it’s doubtful anyone will see anything approaching his true potential until he’s had a full NHL training camp underneath his belt.
But he could add size and the ability to create offense at 6-foot-3, 218-pounds, and the door has been opened for competition after the Daug Man has struggled with bad decisions and blown offensive chances during the Stanley Cup Finals. The 27-year-old Soderberg would understandably jump at the chance to make his playoff debut during the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Bruins coaching staff was mum about their plans for Saturday night’s Game 5 at the United Center.
“I’ve been practicing for a long time now, so I feel ready. I’m a big guy and can protect the puck, I can get it deep and go from there,” said Soderberg. “I think I have a lot of experience from before. I’ve played hockey for 10 years, so I know the game. If I play tomorrow, I have to keep it simple. Just get the puck out and get the puck in and then work from there.
“I don’t know if I’m playing yet, I haven’t talked to him [Coach Julien] today. That would be amazing, of course.”
There is every chance the whole thing is a ruse, and that the Bruins will go right back to Daugavins given that he's been the only extra Bruins forward that's played during the playoffs.
Either way, Soderberg won’t be playing a very big role while soaking up five or six minutes on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Rich Peverley, and it might not make much difference whether it’s the Big Swede or the Daug Man.
Written that way it actually sounds more like a choice between cartoon characters than hockey players, and perhaps that is somewhat appropriate.