BOSTON – Claude Julien showed little hesitation when asked, following his team’s 4-2 win in Game 5 over the Montreal Canadiens, to come up with a label for his third line headlined by everybody’s favorite Big Swede, Carl Soderberg.
“Carl Soderberg’s line has arguably been our best line so far in this series,” said Julien. “They make things happen, so got to give them a lot of credit. It certainly takes a lot of pressure off the other lines.”
The secondary scoring normally makes Boston close to an unbeatable opponent when it arrives, and the B’s third line produced six points in the Saturday night romp at TD Garden. Soderberg led the way with a game-high three points, and handed the Bruins their best start of the series when he scored his first career playoff goal in a dominant first period. The goal gives the Bruins a sparkling record of 15-1-1 this season when Soderberg lights the lamp, and presents opposing defenses with all manner of trouble given Boston’s top two forward groups.
When the dust settled, they had combined for six points, 11 generated shot attempts, a plus-6 rating and the biggest stamp on a win that’s got the B’s up 3-2 with a chance to close out the series Monday night in Montreal.
“I think we’re three hard working guys and not only us, but this whole team. This is a hard working team,” said Matt Fraser, who has been a nice addition to the third line in the last two games. “I think you’ve got to pride yourself on your work ethic, especially in the playoffs because, it’s cliché, but it’s a game of inches.
“They still count. It doesn’t matter if they’re going off your butt or your knee, or, you know, it’s a nice goal…we’ll take them.”
The Soderberg scoring play was a solid one: Loui Eriksson absorbed a hit from man mountain Douglas Murray behind the Montreal net, and fed Soderberg for a one timer that shot past Carey Price. Give Chris Kelly an assist as well as he pointed some things out to the three forwards on Saturday morning as a way to attack the slow-footed Douglas Murray pairing.
“I think this is just a hard working play. Like Carl [Soderberg] made a great play, like a strong play off the draw, and the puck popped there and it was pretty easy for me to get it back to the defensemen,” said Fraser, who finished with an assist and a plus-2 in 13:35 of ice time. “Actually Chris Kelly this morning told us to bring it out the weak side, so he came up to me after the game and was laughing and told me, ‘You should be the coach now.’
“Loui made a great play to Carl and Carl made a great shot, and again, those guys work so well with each other. You just…you feed off them and just try and stay out of the way.”
Soderberg picked up the secondary assist on Boston’s second goal, a power play strike, and teamed with Matt Fraser to set up Eriksson’s score in the third period that iced the game for the Black and Gold. Given his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and the torrid offensive second half to his first full NHL regular season, Soderberg was a trendy pick as Boston’s X-Factor headed into the playoffs.
He showed exactly why on Saturday night after also playing a supporting role in setting up Fraser’s overtime Game 4 winner up in Montreal. That means the third line has now dominated the Johnny Bucyk Old Time Hockey jacket with Fraser passing it off to Soderberg following Saturday’s win.
“Since Fras [Matt Fraser] came in and he scored the game winner last game and it seems like he is fitting in pretty well with our line,” said Soderberg. “Loui [Eriksson] and I, I think we have played good the whole playoffs, but we haven’t scored. So it is good both of us scored today.”
It's good both Soderberg and Eriksson scored for the Bruins, and now Boston is overwhelming Montreal with secondary scoring from their bottom six after it was the exact opposite in the first three games of the series.
Turnabout is fair play in the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry after all.