WILMINGTON – Matt Fraser has scored the most goals in the AHL over the last three seasons, so the 23-year-old winger knows what is expected of him during any stint at the NHL level. But the goals haven’t fallen for Fraser quite yet after five games with the Bruins as reinforcement amid frontline injuries, and he’s gone pointless with just six shots on net in the aforementioned five games.
It’s unfortunate given Fraser’s effortless, lethal release and accurate wrist shot from the scoring areas in the offensive zone. If he can get to the scoring areas in time to get off his wrister, Fraser would remind many Bruins fans as a smaller version of Glenn Murray: slower skating and average physical presence, but the kind of goal-scoring shot and release from the slot and the face-off circles that could provide constant offense.
Fraser had the same kind of difficulties freeing himself up for his signature shot during the preseason, but he’s determined to keep with it until something breaks for him.
“I think I’ve played okay, but I’m not content. Obviously I’m looking for a little more production out of myself,” said Fraser. “I think I’ve been doing the little things right. Chipping pucks in, and chipping pucks out. I’ve been making sure I’m in the right spots on the ice in both zones.
“But I’m a guy that knows what he needs to do to succeed, and knows what I can do out there. When I don’t get the results I’m looking for, I’m probably the hardest person on myself.”
According to Fraser, the most difficult transition has been moving from AHL top line winger to third line grinder at the NHL level. The role doesn’t quite bring out the best in him, and it’s next to impossible to get into an offensive rhythm skating 9:40 of ice per game.
“In the AHL you play the power play, the penalty kill and you play 20 minutes a night,” said Fraser. “You come here, and scoring isn’t really your role. It would be nice to chip in and contribute, but that’s not the role on this team. That’s part of the growing pains in this league.”
Give Fraser credit, though. He isn’t a player that’s going to provide many other dimensions on the ice outside of scoring goals, but he dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno on Thursday night in Buffalo.
Fraser didn’t win the fight, and really didn’t look all that comfortable throwing punches at an opponent in an NHL game.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m changing my game, but you want to go out and show your teammates – and the coaches – that you’re willing to go out there and do what it takes. As a young guy, I think that is half the battle.”
But at least he’s attempting to contribute something when his shots aren’t falling, and that caught the attention of the Bruins coaching staff.
“I don’t want to be known as a one-dimensional player. You’ve got to go out there, and diversify yourself by showing you can do other things to contribute,” said Fraser. “It weighs on your mind when you see all the chances you wish that you could have made something happen. But I need to keep going to the dirty areas, and let my natural skill take over.”
The Red Deer, Alberta native has 16 goals and 21 points in 23 games for the Providence Bruins this season, and the NHL club clearly hopes some of that skill takes over while he’s gets his shot in Boston.