DETROIT – While all eyes were on Patrice Bergeron returning from injury at the start of Saturday night’s preseason tilt vs. Detroit, it might have turned out to be Carl Söderberg’s coming out party.
The Big Swede potted the only two goals Boston scored in a 2-0 preseason victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, and his line with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith had a very good night against the Winged Wheels. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to visualize that as Boston’s third line to start the season given their performance, and how they’ve looked through the balance of training camp.
The first goal was a nice transition score for the Bruins with Chris Kelly speeding into the attack zone carrying the puck, and then firing intentionally wide with the puck off the live end boards. The carom bounced right to Söderberg at the left of the net, and the Swedish forward fired it past Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson. The second Söderberg score was a pure hard work rebound as he crashed the net on the power play, and fired home the leftovers from a Dennis Seidenberg point shot.
The other bright spot, aside from Bergeron returning to healthy form, was Bruins goalie Chad Johnson, who bounced back from a rough Montreal game to stop everything he faced against a Red Wings team that drubbed Boston on Thursday night.
GOLD STAR: When a guy scores two goals in a 2-0 win it kind of has to be him, doesn’t it? Carl Soderberg powered a couple of goals past the Red Wings defense and oversized goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, and really put his best foot forward in the race to secure a spot on the third line. Both were gritty goals as well with the Big Swede crashing the net and flipping home rebounds and loose pucks that were there for the taking. It was Soderberg’s first game at the left wing during this current training camp, and it looks like that might be his final resting place on the third line. The Big Swede has been a little inconsistent during camp, but there’s no substitute for a big body that can put the puck in the net.
BLACK EYE: Not sure exactly what Brendan Smith did to the Bruins, but he was on the receiving end for some major abuse during Saturday night’s win. Patrice Bergeron caught him in the head with an elbow that got sent off to the penalty box, and Smith seemed to take major exception to the hit. In the second period Brad Marchand ended up getting into a slap fight with Smith in front of the Detroit net that got both players sent off for matching penalties. Making things stranger is the fact that Smith is Reilly Smith’s older brother, so we now have proof that blood isn’t thicker than Bruins.
TURNING POINT: The Chris Kelly line (Kelly, Soderberg and Smith) had a good night together with a handful of good scoring chances, and they finally cashed in during the second period. Carl Soderberg took the long rebound of a Kelly shot off the end boards, and buried it into the open portion of the net on the short side with only 1:04 left in the period. Cory Emmerton followed with a tripping penalty nine seconds later, and Soderberg fired home another goal 41 seconds into the third period. That was it for a Red Wings team that was playing without Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chad Johnson had opened up some questions about his candidacy for the backup goaltender spot when he struggled out of the gate while allowing three goals on eight shots in Montreal. But Johnson was strong in his follow-up effort on Saturday night while making 18 saves in a shutout victory over Detroit. There weren’t a ton of shots, but the Wings were getting good traffic and chaos around the Boston net. Johnson stood tall and was at his best in the second period when he turned away Gustav Nyquist after the Wings forward had walked in all alone close to the net. Now it’s up Niklas Svedberg to match Johnson’s performance in the competition to back up Tuukka Rask.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – the number of registered hits for 22-year-old Jordan Caron, who is doing his best to make an impact in a wide-ranging battle for spots on Boston’s third line.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I felt very comfortable from the start. [Chris Kelly] did a really good job as always, and I just fit in.” –Carl Soderberg taking the low key approach after his two goal performance.