Sunday, April 20, 2014
Florek delivers much-needed jolt
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- Organizational depth is a big part of the Bruins’ success, and it was once again on display during Boston’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the teams’ first-round series of the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.
Rookie forward Justin Florek scored the Bruins’ first goal, which gave Boston the momentum it desperately needed after suffering a 1-0 loss in Game 1.
Justin Florek reacts after getting the Bruins on the board in Game 2.
On Sunday, Florek and the Bruins took advantage of a Detroit miscue to gain a 1-0 lead at 7:28 of the first period. Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard came far out of the crease to play the puck and attempted to move it to Brendan Smith, but the puck ricocheted off the defenseman’s leg.
The puck came to Florek, who was in the right place at the right time, took a shot from the left faceoff circle and scored with Howard out of position.
“It felt great,” Florek said. “Just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team. So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, we can carry that out through the rest of the series.”
Since Bruins forwards Daniel Paille (head) and Chris Kelly (back) were both questionable earlier in the week, Boston recalled Florek from Providence of the AHL. The 23-year-old forward has been promoted three times this season, and this time Bruins coach Claude Julien showed trust and placed Florek on the team’s third line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Florek was solid in Boston’s Game 1 loss, and even saw time on the penalty kill. In Game 2, his goal provided a major boost.
“It was great for him,” Julien said. “It was also great for the team, I think, to give us that early lead and really get that confidence going, that energy that we were looking for. That was a big goal for us, so it was great to see him stay on it and react well and quick enough so that it ended up being a good goal for us.”
After the game, teammates around the room understood just how important Florek’s contributions have been in Kelly’s absence.
“Getting that first one was huge, especially after not being able to get one past [Howard] last game,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “Sometimes all it takes is a lucky bounce like that to kind of turn the tide and get some confidence and momentum in the goal-scoring department. It was a great job by [Florek] pouncing on the puck and getting that first goal.”
During his time with the P-Bruins this season, Florek posted 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points in 69 games.
In Game 1, Florek logged 13:08 of ice time. In Game 2, he played 10:08.
“You’ve got to always be ready,” he said. “So you’re sitting on the bench, you’ve just got to keep your legs loose and everything, and when you get the chance you’ve just got to be ready, so that was a big part of it.”
After Boston’s win, Julien said he’s still not sure when Paille or Kelly will be back in the lineup. They will travel to Detroit, but if neither are cleared to play Florek has proven reliable.