BOSTON – Justin Florek was roused out of bed on Saturday morning by a call from Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney that he was getting called up to the NHL.
It’s safe to assume the Bruins rookie forward had a better day than you did. That’s because Florek made his NHL debut subbing in for Jordan Caron and his stiff back, and looked completely at home skating on the fourth line wing with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille.
“I felt great. Don Sweeney woke me up, so it was just the best way I could wake up and drive right up here and play the game,” said Florek with a wide smile on his face. “It kind of made it easy for me not to think too much about it, and just get out there and play my game.”
Florek became the sixth Bruins rookie making his NHL debut for the big club this season, which is the most since 2006-07 when six rookies (David Krejci, Phil Kessel, Jonathan Sigalet, Matt Lashoff, Nate Thompson and Petr Kalus) got into their first NHL action with the Black and Gold.
The state line doesn’t look all that impressive for Florek with three generated shot attempts and a couple of hits in 10:14 of ice time, but he was a factor in the best game for the B’s fourth line since Shawn Thornton was suspended. Florek screened goalie Ondrej Pavelec on the game-winning goal from Torey Krug at the right point, and his heavy fore-checking helped set up Boston’s first goal of the game.
“He played well. He’s a good skater, he’s got good size, and obviously on one of [Torey] Krug’s goals it was him doing a great job in front of goaltender there. I thought he had a real good game for us, no doubt,” said Claude Julien. “But you also have to give credit to Dan Paille, who I thought looked really good on the right side tonight. That was a reason that line was doing [well], is that he was able to make that transition to the other side. I thought he had a great game too, so that created a decent line tonight.”
Julien indicated that Florek will head back to Providence for a Sunday game with the P-Bruins after being called up on emergency recall when Caron couldn’t play, but the youngster is still a possibility to travel with the NHL club on their upcoming West Coast trip.
It’s a distinct possibility given how well the entire fourth line played with Florek installed at the left wing as a mobile, big-bodied forward, and Paille being open to swinging over to the right side where he had his first multi-point game of the season. One thing was clear about the B’s fifth round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft after watching his debut on Saturday: he’s entirely capable of playing at the NHL level, and contributing if he’s on the Boston roster.