MONTREAL – Matt Fraser says that he’s dreamed of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs “thousands and thousands of times” as a hockey-loving kid growing up in Alberta. Now, he'll likely get to live that out with the Bruins.
The 23-year-old was called up by Boston on Thursday in time for morning skate and presumably for Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens.
He was more than a little excited.
“As a kid you play for the Stanley Cup a thousand times when you’re in the street or on the outdoor rink, but not in this environment,” said Fraser, who had three goals and five points in five playoff games for the AHL's Providence Bruins. “It’s exciting obviously, for sure. I’m not trying to downplay it all, but once you’re out there you need to find your groove, and play your game.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on what’s going on, and just being a hockey fan you’re watching the Bruins, and you’re watching the Penguins. I have buddies that are playing in these playoffs, and it’s exciting as a fan too.”
It’s likely that Fraser would slide into the third line given his high end offensive skills, and his NHL release and shot, that allowed him to score 20 goals in the AHL this season. He also had two goals in 14 games for the NHL Bruins, while battling to create space for himself and the dangerous shot that accounted for 70 goals in his previous two AHL seasons in the Dallas organization.
The move to the third line would either be to replace Carl Soderberg if the Big Swede’s morning absence was something worse than taking his option, or to potentially push Daniel Paille back down to a reunited Merlot Line. One thing that was missing in Game 3 was the attitude, energy and hard-hitting that Boston’s fourth line normally provides in the playoffs.
Claude Julien certainly wasn’t overplaying his hand when asked about it after the morning skate.
“We’re going to make some game time decisions as far our roster goes, guys,” said Julien. “It just gives you guys a little something to write about, so you don’t get too bored. It’s all part of injuries and moving guys around, but there’s no doubt that when you take somebody out then it’s not the same thing.”
Given some of the options Julien has, it will be interesting to see where he goes with Fraser’s possible playoff debut. There were some very different-looking lines featured in the morning skate.