Bruins: Carl Soderberg

For Soderberg, a world of difference

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
BOSTON -- It’s been exactly one year since Carl Soderberg signed with the Boston Bruins -- on April 8, 2013.

So much has changed since then.

The hype was overblown when Soderberg first arrived in Boston. He had spent his entire pro career playing in the Swedish Elite League. His production in Sweden was impressive and many thought it would translate to the North American game, even though he had never sniffed a game in the NHL.

[+] EnlargeCarl Soderberg
Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesAs he's gotten more and more comfortable with the NHL and the Bruins' system, Carl Soderberg has been a big asset on the third line.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound forward averaged nearly a point a game in his final two seasons in the SEL, posting 45 goals and 50 assists for 95 points in 96 games. He led the league with 31 goals in 54 games last year before signing with the Bruins at the conclusion of that season.

Many wondered why he had spent so much time playing in Europe, even after the Bruins acquired him in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Hannu Toivonen on July 23, 2007.

The hype diminished when he started playing games for the Bruins on April 20. He played a total of six regular-season games and registered only two assists and at times seemed lost on the smaller ice surface.

Once the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup playoffs, Soderberg watched from press level until his services were needed in the finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite his limited NHL action, he was decent on hockey’s biggest stage and showed signs of why the Bruins liked his game so much.

After the Bruins lost to the Blackhawks, Soderberg set his goal to be prepared for training camp. Now knowing what to expect in the NHL and what the Bruins expect from him, he spent the summer training in order to become a full-time player for Boston.

He erased his struggles from a year ago and he’s become a valuable asset for the Bruins.

“When I came here one year ago I wanted to have a spot on this team, and that’s why I came here last season because I wanted to learn how the system works,” he said. “I think that did a lot for me to come last season. This season I’m more and more comfortable. I feel like I’m a part of this team now. This is way different from last year, for sure. It’s going to be awesome playing the next couple of weeks in the playoffs and see what we can do.”

Soderberg’s production on the Bruins’ third line, along with linemates Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson, has allowed coach Claude Julien to use all four lines consistently.

“Carl is just a big guy with a lot of good stuff he can bring to the game,” Eriksson said. “It’s been good so far, so we just have to keep it going.”

Of late, Julien has tweaked his lines a bit but that’s only because he’s giving players rest before the playoffs begin. It’s a safe bet that third line will be intact once the puck drops on the postseason.

Overall, Soderberg has 16 goals and 30 assists for 46 points in 70 games this season, including a plus-6 rating. He began the season on the wing, but Julien thought it best to move Soderberg to center and it’s worked out well.

“It has, for sure,” Soderberg said. “When Loui and Kells came back from injury that helped me a lot, playing with those experienced guys. They’re great players and they’re helping me a lot.”

A year ago, both Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli repeatedly said that once Soderberg learned the NHL game and the team’s systems, he would make an impact for the Bruins. Soderberg has proven them correct with his play this season and should be an important contributor as the Bruins attempt to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the third time in a four-year span.

“I thought I was in good shape when I came here last year,” he said with a smile. “I hadn’t played a game in six weeks before I came here and you need to play games. I wasn’t in the best [game] shape but this year I’m in good shape.”

Soderberg at center of third line's surge

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' surge to No. 1 in the Eastern Conference is linked to the reemergence of their third line.

Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson have built chemistry and the three compose arguably one of the best third lines in the league.

[+] EnlargeCarl Soderberg
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesCarl Soderberg has been skating well and creating chances while playing center.
Soderberg has nine points in the last 10 games, Kelly has five points in the last 10 games and Eriksson has five points in his last six games.

"We're a great line and we just want to keep that going," Soderberg said. "Since I started to play center, it's quite obvious I'm creating more offense. I can still play the wing, but I prefer center."

It took a little bit of time, a few injuries, and a few tweaks for coach Claude Julien to find the right trio.

At the start of the season, Eriksson played on the team's second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Reilly Smith played with Kelly and Soderberg. After Eriksson suffered his first of two concussions early in the season, Smith replaced him on the second line and that trio quickly had success.

When Eriksson returned, Julien decided it would be best to ease the veteran winger back into the lineup by putting him on the third line. The coach also moved Soderberg to the middle more frequently and had Kelly playing the other side.

Suddenly, the entire lineup had harmony and now the Bruins are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.

When Soderberg registers a point, the Bruins are 23-3-3 this season. He's finally showing the skating ability, strength and production the Bruins were hoping for.

Julien says he sees Soderberg is settling into a good rhythm.

"His line is one of the reasons that he's been doing really good," Julien said. "Kells has come in and done a good job on that left wing, but Loui, as we're all seeing, is just playing much better hockey since that injury. So that in itself makes for a better line, and like I said the other day, I think in Carl's situation he loves to skate, so by putting him in center he's been able to cover a lot of ice and that seems to suit him better."

Top-line winger Milan Lucic has been impressed with the play of the third line, especially Soderberg.

"It's real good," Lucic said. "You can see his confidence coming in and he's using his big body and he's found his skating game in the NHL, which wasn't really there for him when he first came here, but you can see the commitment and the time he put in to make sure he can contribute to this team this year and you can see him starting to get rewarded for that."

Like Soderberg, Eriksson is coming into his own. Limited by a pair of concussions earlier this season, he started to show signs before the Olympics, where he won a silver medal for Sweden. Since being back with Boston he's playing well.

"To me, Loui has been really a good player and we're starting to see the player that he is and that's encouraging," Julien said. "That line has been good overall, but Carl's a big body that can skate well and he's strong on the puck and he does make things happen."

The third line has become an important part of Boston's success this season. They need that kind of depth to continue to enjoy another deep run through the postseason this spring.

Bruins give Habs something to think about

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13

MONTREAL -- A season is not won or lost at the NHL’s trade deadline.

It’s a general manager’s job to improve his team, especially if that team is a Stanley Cup contender. The Boston Bruins have become a perennial Cup contender, so when GM Peter Chiarelli added depth to the team’s blue line by adding two veteran defensemen at the deadline on March 5 -- Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter -- it was a simple move that would keep the team’s core intact and wouldn’t disrupt its chemistry.

Boston’s division rival, the Montreal Canadiens, made a significant acquisition by adding veteran forward Thomas Vanek, who is considered a Bruins killer based on his repeated success against the black and gold.

Even before he was asked a question during his trade deadline day press conference, Chiarelli acknowledged the fact that the Canadiens improved their team. He said it would be a challenge to play them and that he looked forward to it.

The Bruins entered Wednesday’s game at Montreal with an 0-4-1 record in their last five games against the Canadiens, but Boston ended its skid with a 4-1 win at Bell Centre. The Bruins received contributions from every line, each defensive pairing and goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves in the victory.

It was the type of game Bruins coach Claude Julien was hoping he’d see.

Entering this game, the Bruins were riding a five-game winning streak and Julien wanted his players to downplay the fact they were playing their storied rivals. He also wanted to downplay the fact they were playing in hostile territory. As much of a challenge as that would be for the Bruins, they successfully accomplished their goal.

More importantly, the Bruins gained some confidence, knowing if they play their style of hockey, they can beat anyone in the league. Currently, Boston is atop the Atlantic Division with 91 points and only one point behind the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins. The conference standings are tight, so there is a possibility the Bruins will face Montreal in the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeLucic
AP Photo/Paul Chiasson)Milan Lucic, who scored his 20th goal, said it was real important for the Bruins to beat the Canadiens.
On Jan. 30, the Canadiens humiliated the Bruins at TD Garden in a 4-1 win. It was one of the worst games for Boston this season, so that memory was still fresh entering Wednesday’s game. Boston has one more regular-season game remaining against the Habs on March 24 at TD Garden, and Wednesday’s win sent a message to their opponent.

“It is a nice way to answer, especially after what happened last game against them when they embarrassed us in our building,” Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “I thought we responded really well and we stayed poised in that first period, even though it wasn’t our best start. We battled through it and we got it going.”

Even though the Bruins attempted to downplay the situation, there was definitely a sense of relief after the win.

“It was real important,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who scored his 20th goal of the season. “We talked about our mindset going into this game, and it was just about focusing on what we’ve done well to this point, especially on this road trip.

“We just wanted to play to our strengths. Obviously you don’t forget when you lose a game the way you did last time against whether it’s the Habs or anyone else, you don’t forget how you played the last game against them and that gave us some motivation as well heading into this game. It’s nice to finally get a result against these guys.”

It didn't start out that way. The Bruins couldn’t create any sustained pressure in the first period and had trouble getting the puck deep into the Montreal zone. Turnovers were a problem too. Fortunately for the Bruins, Rask finished the first period with 13 saves.

“Early in the game, they got some early power plays, so we had to kill those and Tuukka stood tall in that situation, but I thought everyone overall played well,” Julien said. “You need your goaltender to be good and that’s what he’s paid to do and that’s what he did tonight. The rest of the team did the same thing.”

Rask finished with 35 saves to improve his career record to 3-10-2 against Montreal. Even though statistically he hasn’t been on the receiving end of many wins, Rask joked after the game that he’ll take full credit for Wednesday’s victory.

“I don’t care,” he said of his numbers. “I felt good against them [in the past] but I still have the losing record, so I’ve got to win some more games.”

At the start of the second period, the Bruins played their style of game. They created a fierce forecheck and took advantage of Montreal’s miscues. It was an important game for Boston, and with a six-game winning streak in hand, the Bruins are satisfied with the way they’re playing with only 17 games remaining in the regular season.

“Despite the start, I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Rask said. “We took most of their opportunities away and capitalized on ours in the second period. It’s a good road win, especially with the little cushion [in the standings] and we’re happy where our game is headed right now.”

Teams or winning streaks are not built at the trade deadline. The simple fact is the Bruins are a solid team, and Wednesday’s win against the Canadiens is just another example of how good the defending Eastern Conference champions can be.

Said Bruins forward Carl Soderberg: “We didn’t play well at all at home against them and we wanted to get a win here, so if we’re going to play against them in the playoffs we know we can beat them.”

The Bruins made that statement loud and clear.

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 4, Oilers 0

February, 1, 2014
Feb 1

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins recovered from their worst loss of the season with a 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

After a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night on home ice, the Bruins played with more emotion en route to victory over the Oilers.

The Bruins received goals from David Krejci, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg and Torey Krug, while goaltender Chad Johnson finished with 22 saves for his first shutout of the season and second of his career.

After a scoreless opening period, the Bruins gained a 1-0 lead on Krejci's power-play goal at 2:06 of the second period. His shot from the high slot was redirected past Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens. It was Krejci's 12th goal of the season. The goal snapped Scrivens' shutout streak at 126:41. He made 103 saves during that scoreless streak, including a 59-save performance in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night.

It appeared Boston added to its lead later in the period, but the goal was disallowed after it was ruled to have come on a distinct kicking motion by Bruins forward Loui Eriksson. On the play, Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski gained control of the puck at the offensive blue line and broke in down the left side. His centering pass went off Eriksson's skate and past Scrivens at 8:32.

The Bruins had another golden opportunity in the waning minutes of the second when Boston penalty killer Daniel Paille created a short-handed bid, but Scrivens stopped the breakaway attempt to keep Edmonton's deficit at one goal.

Hamilton finally gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead at 6:43 of the third period. He broke in along the right side and took a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Scrivens made the initial save, but Hamilton collected the rebound, skated behind the net and tucked in a wraparound for his sixth goal of the season and second in as many games.

Boston gained a 3-0 lead when Soderberg's wrist shot from the left faceoff circle beat Scrivens for his eighth goal of the season at 13:05 of the third period. The Bruins scored their second power-play goal of the game when Krug notched his 12th goal of the season at 15:42 of the third period to give Boston a 4-0 lead.

Save of the game: Johnson turned in the save of the game early in the first period. In a scoreless game, the Oilers created a quality scoring chance when forward Ales Hemsky had a breakaway, but Johnson stoned the attempt to secure the stalemate.

Drop 'em: The Bruins' Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with the Oilers' Luke Gazdic at 3:20 of the first period. The two went toe-to-toe in front of the Edmonton bench, and Gazdic landed a hard right, dropping Thornton to the ice and ending the fight. After spending a brief time in the penalty box, Thornton skated off the ice and went to the dressing room. A few minutes later, a team doctor returned to his seat behind the Bruins bench, but Thornton remained in the room and did not return for the remainder of the period. He did return for the start of the second period. It was his second fighting major since returning from a 15-game suspension on Jan. 11.

Tribute: During a television timeout in the first period, the Bruins honored former defenseman and current Edmonton captain Andrew Ference with a video tribute. The 17,565 in attendance gave him a standing ovation, and he acknowledged it with wave of his stick. Ference spent seven seasons in Boston and helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Up next: The Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night (7 p.m.) at TD Garden.
The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks meet Sunday for the first time since they squared off in the Stanley Cup finals in June.'s Joe McDonald and's Scott Powers recently chatted about last year's unforgettable series and how the teams have fared this season.

SP: Hey, Joe. Hope all is well in Boston. Certainly hope your winter has been more forgiving than ours in Chicago. Of course, Bruins versus Blackhawks around the corner. It's crazy to think it's already been six-plus months since they met in the Stanley Cup finals. I know we both recently wrote year-in-review stories. For me, going back, watching game videos, looking through those stories and box scores, it just reminded me how incredible that series was from that memorable Game 1 to how Game 6 played out. So many of those games could have gone either way. The series had a bit of everything for everyone.

[+] EnlargeChara
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaAfter a memorable matchup in the Stanley Cup finals last season, the Blackhawks and Bruins are again among the NHL's elite teams.
JM: Scott, my friend. Things are going well here in Boston. Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Blackhawks last June, fans around these parts enjoyed a World Series victory by the Red Sox, so that helped ease the pain a bit. I can't believe it's already been six months since that exciting series between Chicago and Boston. You're right, it could have gone either way. Imagine the intensity if there had been a Game 7. The Blackhawks won the ultimate prize last spring, and deservedly so, but I'm sure the Bruins have had Jan. 19 circled on their calendar. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting game, a nice precursor for the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos.

SP: Let's not talk about football. Whether the Bears were going to keep their defensive coordinator was the meatiest story here in recent few weeks. Back to the ice, I know one of the major topics leading into this season for the Blackhawks was how they would respond to a short offseason and if there would be the so-called Stanley Cup hangover. It was part of the reason they felt their last Cup defense was rocky. Ultimately, they didn't endure that this season. They have gone through a bit of a rough patch in the last few weeks, but they put themselves in a comfortable position with a positive start. Did the Bruins have to deal with any effects this season from that same long run and short offseason?

JM: For the record: I'm picking the Patriots this weekend. The Bruins certainly dealt with that "hangover" after winning the Cup in 2011. This time around, however, that hasn't been the case. It was a short summer for the Bruins, but they weren't partying as the runner-up. Like the Blackhawks, the Bruins have hit a bit of a lull the last few weeks, but the Bruins are used to such ebbs and flows in their game during recent seasons. The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla has cooled off a bit, but it won't be long before it gets going again.

SP: OK, I've got you down for the Patriots. The Blackhawks' top line of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa seems to be the one constant with the team now. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has toyed with the other lines this past week. Their depth was so key to their success last season and even earlier this year, but they haven't been able to get those four lines rolling as of late. Bryan Bickell, who the Bruins will remember as one of the two 17-second goal scorers, hasn't been able to find that same groove he had in the playoffs last season. He and Michal Handzus, who also had a strong playoff run, are two players the Blackhawks are looking to get more from. For the most part, the Blackhawks do look a lot like they did last season. Their one major addition was Kris Versteeg in a trade earlier this year. How have the Bruins' offseason moves worked for them this season?

[+] Enlarge Jarome Iginla
Jen Fuller/Getty ImagesJarome Iginla has proven to be a good complement on the Bruins' top line.
JM: I was actually happy for both the Blackhawks and Versteeg when that deal was completed to bring him back to Chicago. I covered Versteeg when he played for the Providence Bruins, the AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and have always been impressed with him as a person and player. He obviously fits well with the Blackhawks. Speaking of fitting in well, the Bruins' offseason additions of Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla have all made significant contributions this season. Smith has really proved to be a solid player in Boston after some considered him as the throw-in as part of the Eriksson-for-Tyler Seguin trade last summer. Unfortunately, Eriksson has missed a total of 20 games because of a pair of concussions, but he recently returned to the lineup and has been easing his way back on the Bruins' third line, along with Ryan Spooner and Carl Soderberg. Iginla has been a nice complement on the team's top line, along with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Iginla's veteran presence both on and off the ice has helped, too. His contributions on the power-play unit have been huge. From a goaltending standpoint, I know how Rask has handled being the player with a huge new contract, how has Crawford dealt with all his new experiences since winning the Cup?

SP: Crawford has had a so-so season. He's been brilliant at times and ordinary in others. He hasn't possessed that same consistency that made him an elite goaltender last season and really a difference-maker in the playoffs. He may have been overworked early in the year, and that dreaded lower-body injury forced him to sit out a month recently. The Blackhawks likely will lean more on rookie goaltender Antti Raanta after the Olympic break and make sure Crawford is fresh for the playoffs. We obviously have a lot of hockey still to be played and two regular-season meetings between these teams, but do you think we could see a Blackhawks-Bruins Cup rematch? The Blues and Ducks seem to be the biggest obstacles in the Blackhawks' way in the Western Conference.

JM: We know how difficult it is to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, or even enjoy another deep run in the playoffs, but both teams have legit chances to return to the finals. In fact, I would love to see it happen, only because of the great hockey we witnessed between these two clubs last spring. What the Ducks have been able to accomplish this season, you'd have to think they would be the favorites out of the Western Conference, but as we all know, anything can happen in the playoffs. As far as the Eastern Conference, it's going to be a fun battle to watch down the stretch and into the playoffs. It wouldn't surprise me if the Penguins and Bruins also have a rematch this spring. Either way, both conferences are setting up nicely for exciting hockey for the fans. Personally, I can't wait for puck drop on Sunday between the Bruins and Blackhawks.

Hamilton, Soderberg could return Thursday

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Carl Soderberg have both been cleared by the team’s medical staff and there’s a strong possibility they’ll return to the lineup Thursday against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Hamilton has missed 10 games with a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 8 at Toronto.

“He’s been given the full go by our medical staff, and I’m hoping if he’s good tomorrow I’ll get a chance to use him,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He’s certainly a possibility for tomorrow.”

Hamilton has been participating in contact drills and admits he hasn’t enjoyed missing such a long stretch of games.

“Yeah, it’s been pretty boring, I’d say,” Hamilton said. “Just wanting to play now and play with your team. I don’t really know what’s going on, but just getting better in the next couple of days.”

Soderberg has missed the past two games with what was described as concussion symptoms, but he admitted after Wednesday’s practice that it was not a concussion.

“No, it was not a concussion,” he said. “I was fine. Yeah, I’m all set to go.”

Soderberg will be evaluated again Thursday, but all signs point to him returning.

“[Missing] two games is nothing. It’s just two games. I played a game four days ago, so I’m pretty fit.

Loui Eriksson (concussion) participated in the team's practice Wednesday at the Garden, but he's still limited in what he can do, including no contact.

“Right now he’s just skating, so he’s a ways away,” Julien said. “He’s not supposed to do any contact and we’re just putting him in our practices so that he can be around players.”

Soderberg starting to settle in to NHL style

November, 22, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Everyone in the hockey world has been waiting to see why the Boston Bruins had so much interest in forward Carl Soderberg since he arrived in North America.

He had spent 10 seasons playing in the Swedish Elite League and had never played a game in the NHL. The Bruins originally acquired him from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Hannu Toivonen on July 23, 2007.

Soderberg, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, finally signed a contract with the Bruins on April 8 and played six games in the final weeks of last season. He also played two games in the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

[+] EnlargeCarl Soderberg, Chris Stewart
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCarl Soderberg is getting comfortable playing the North American game after a decade in Sweden.
During those eight games, Soderberg seemed lost and didn't look like the type of player who had been hyped as the next best thing to come out of Sweden.

He arrived at camp in September in great shape and he's played 16 of 22 games this season.

Similar to last season, it's taken him a little bit to get going, but he's played well the past few games and it's evident he's making things happen when he's on the ice and finally fitting into the Bruins' style of play.

"I can't say enough about him right now. I really like the direction his game is going in," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He's a heavy player around that net area, and he'll go through anybody to get to that puck. Those kinds of players, teams don't have enough of."

Soderberg missed the first six games of the season due to a foot injury, which also slowed his progress. He's healthy now and producing in all areas.

"Better and better all the time," Soderberg said. "The game here is a little bit different but I'm getting better at it now, and I have good linemates, as well."

He's been on the Bruins' third line with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith for the majority of the season, and that trio has found its chemistry. Soderberg notched his third goal and ninth point of the season in a 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues Thursday night at TD Garden. He's playing physical, winning puck battles and putting the puck on net consistently.

"That's kind of my game and I played the same way in Sweden, so I'm used to it," he said. "I feel sharp enough, both my shape and [gaining experience] makes me way better, so I'm working on [improving]."

Kelly has been impressed with Soderberg's transition.

"It takes some time to adjust to the North American game," Kelly said. "It's a different game and every instinct that comes natural to him, now they're asking him to do a little bit differently because the European game is obviously different than the North American game. He's done a great job of adjusting and he's gotten better every game."

Last season, Soderberg led the Swedish Elite League with 31 goals. He's not expecting to match that total in the NHL.

"No, not really. I can score goals and last season was really great for me, but in the past I've been more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, so I guess I'm a little bit of both but I don't expect too many," he said.

From day one, Julien has been saying that once Soderberg is able to make the proper adjustments, he would become a good player in the NHL. He's showing signs of that now.

"Carl's a good player and he led the Swedish League in scoring last year, so obviously he's a talented player," Kelly said. "He got his feet wet last year, which obviously helped him. He knew what to expect coming into camp."

After the team's loss to the Blues on Thursday, Julien admitted that Kelly is dealing with a minor upper-body issue, which is hindering his ability to win faceoffs. So Soderberg took the drops in that game and finished 6-for-8.

"Maybe I'll get Carl to take some more, he did it well [Thursday] night in the circle," Kelly said. "It's a luxury to have [multiple] guys on one line to take draws."

Boston's third line is beginning to have success overall. With Kelly centering Soderberg and Smith, they're using their speed and skill to contribute. It's no secret the Bruins have a deep lineup, and when Julien is able to roll all four lines on a consistent basis, Boston will have success. That's what the coach has seen the past eight games.

"That's one of our strengths," Kelly said. "For portions of last year that wasn't the case. We're a good team, a deep team, and when the bottom two lines are contributing, it takes the pressure off the top two lines."

Spooner, Soderberg make their presence felt

November, 1, 2013
Ryan Spooner, Daniel WinnikSteve Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesRyan Spooner's speed helped contribute to a winning effort in his season debut for the Bruins.
BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner admitted surprise when he got the call Thursday morning at 7 to pack his bags and make the hour trek up to TD Garden from Providence.

"I was preparing to go to practice," Spooner said. "I just happen to wake up, and I got the good news."

Bruins head coach Claude Julien said before Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim he was looking for a burst of offense with his decision to call up center Spooner from the team's AHL affiliate in Providence. And the baby-faced 21-year-old -- in his first appearance with the big club this season, and fifth career game -- sure made his presence felt.

Spooner displayed his speed and his offensive creativity on the breakout feed he made in the second period to knot the game at 1-1.

[+] EnlargeCarl Soderberg
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCarl Soderberg celebrates after scoring his first career NHL goal.
After Zdeno Chara won a puck away from Anaheim's Emerson Etem and Peter Holland behind his own net, Spooner carried it up the left circle, then skipped a deep cross-ice pass to Chris Kelly up the right flank at the opposite blue line. Kelly charged hard to catch up with it, then tapped it gently with his backhand onto the blade of Carl Soderberg. With just the goalie to beat, the lefty Soderberg went forehand to backhand and tucked it behind Jonas Hiller's pads as he fell into his own net.

"They were playing a bit of a trap, they were closing off the middle of the ice," Spooner explained. "When I got the puck, I didn't really have much, I was trying to get it out. I guess I got kinda lucky with that play."

With the timetable on Loui Eriksson (concussion) unknown, Spooner came in to replace Jordan Caron on the third line, centering Kelly and Soderberg, and made his impact felt. In addition to his first career NHL point in his 12 minutes, 22 seconds of ice time, he registered two shots and a hit, and was 1-of-3 on faceoffs. He also took the first shot in the overtime shootout, getting denied trying to lift the puck over Hiller's pad. "I think he got more and more comfortable, and you know I've said this playing with all new guys, communication is huge and just talking makes things easier," Kelly said of Spooner. "And I thought he played well in all three zones."

Said Julien, "I'm not sure that Kells is as best utilized on the wing as he is at center, but the one thing I thought is Spoons did give us some speed on that line and created some of that stuff -- and for the first time together, I think they were OK. "

It wasn't the prettiest beginning, as the third line got off to a careless start, surrendering the first goal just 1:52 into the game when Soderberg tried to thread the needle with a cross-sheet pass off the boards. Dustin Penner was there to intercept and keep the puck in the offensive zone, gathering and passing it off to Mathieu Perreault in the right circle. Perrault skipped it back to Devante Smith-Pelly driving the slot, and the right winger beat Tuukka Rask glove side for the 1-0 advantage.

It was a slow start overall for Soderberg, who didn't seem to have his feet under him and sometimes led his linemates too far in front with his passes up the ice. But the end product Thursday, and his first career NHL goal, will suffice.

Julien keeping an eye on Sox

October, 9, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins coach Claude Julien had to work Tuesday night, watching the team’s next opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, play against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After Colorado's 2-1 victory, Julien quickly changed the channel to the ALDS playoff game between the Sox and Rays. Tampa held a 1-0 lead, but the Red Sox quickly scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh en route to a 3-1 win to advance to the ALCS.

Julien has talked with Red Sox manager John Farrell a few times, and the Bruins coach wished the skipper good luck prior to the series.

“[Farrell’s] done a great job,” Julien said. “He’s changed the whole chemistry of that team. We talk about good chemistry, and you can tell there’s good chemistry right now and I don’t think you saw that same chemistry last year and that’s made a big difference. His players want to play. They want to put themselves out there, and when players want to do that it’s because something has changed in that room that makes them excited to go out there and play hard. John deserves a lot of credit for that.”

* Forward Carl Soderberg has yet to practice with the team since injuring his ankle in the final preseason game against Winnipeg. He’s been skating on his own this week prior to each team practice, but there’s no timetable for his return. When he's deemed healthy, the Bruins can assign him to Providence on a conditioning stint, but Julien doesn’t know if and when that will happen. “We’re not there, yet, to be honest with you,” Julien said.

* Bruins veteran forward David Krejci was thrilled to watch fellow Czech native and 19-year-old San Jose Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl score four goals in the team’s 9-2 win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. Krejci doesn’t know Hertl personally, but the two played against each other in the Czech league during the lockout last year.

“He was a good player. He was only 18, so he was good as an 18-year-old in that league,” Krejci said. “I’ve seen his goals, especially the last one, it was impressive. It made me happy there’s a young Czech guy coming into the NHL and is doing pretty good. It’s good for him. I’m happy for him, but it’s also good for Czech hockey.”

Hertl’s fourth and final goal on Tuesday made the highlight reel. Overall, he has six goals and one assist in three NHL games for the Sharks.

Julien: Soderberg progressing well

October, 8, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- For the second day in a row, injured Bruins forward Carl Soderberg skated on his own prior to the team’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.

He’s progressing from an ankle injury he suffered in the Bruins’ final preseason game Sept. 27. There’s no timetable for when he’ll be able to return to game action.

“Day to day is the best I can say right now,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He’s skating, and when I say ‘day to day,’ he’s getting closer to practicing with us, and once he practices and I get the OK from the medical staff, we’ll move forward. Day to day doesn’t mean tomorrow, but he’s progressing extremely well.”

During Soderberg’s absence, Jordan Caron has been given an opportunity and has played well in the team’s first two games of the regular season. The 22-year-old forward has been on the line with Chris Kelly and rookie Reilly Smith. Caron nearly scored a goal in the first game against Tampa Bay last Thursday, but he capitalized and produced his first tally of the season against the Detroit Red Wings last Saturday at TD Garden.

It’ll be interesting to see how Julien handles the situation once Soderberg is deemed healthy.

“We’ve got a pretty good player who is injured now and we’re going to have some tough decisions to make when the time comes,” Julien said.

* Defenseman Matt Bartkowski has been a healthy scratch for the first two games of the regular season. Fellow blueliners Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug have been in the lineup and have played well. At some point soon, Julien will want to insert Bartkowski to keep him game ready.

“I’ll be very honest. He’s not going to sit [on press level] for a month,” Julien said. “That’s not going to happen. We’ve got some good young players and they need to play, especially early in the year, you’ve got to give those guys opportunities to play. When that’s going to happen, I’m not sure but certainly don’t expect him to be in the stands for a whole month.”

Krejci, Soderberg miss practice

October, 1, 2013
After completing a two-day, team-building retreat in Stowe, Vt., the Boston Bruins returned to the practice ice Tuesday in Waterbury, Vt.

Both David Krejci (back spasms) and Carl Soderberg (ankle) missed practice. Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Soderberg is doubtful for the season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday at TD Garden. Krejci is expected to practice on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping to see David on the ice [Wednesday],” Julien told reporters. “We’re optimistic about that. Soderberg, again, he’s just being evaluated. There’s some swelling, so we don’t know exactly until that swelling goes down a little bit more. He’s a little bit longer and I would say doubtful for Thursday, highly doubtful. David, we’re optimistic things are going to go well for him.”

Krejci missed the preseason finale last Friday against the Winnipeg Jets, while Soderberg’s skate caught a rut in the ice during the game, resulting in his injury.

Julien also announced Krejci has been named the team’s second assistant captain and will share the "A" with teammate Chris Kelly.

Krejci, Soderberg sit out; Johnson waived

September, 29, 2013
BOSTON -- After missing Saturday’s preseason finale due to back spasms, Bruins forward David Krejci did not participate in Sunday’s practice at TD Garden.

Teammate Carl Soderberg also missed practice with an undisclosed injury.

“Right now I would say day-to-day,” Julien said after practice regarding Krejci's status. “Maybe as we move forward it might be better. To be honest with you, Krecj, I think it might be better. With Carl, I’m not sure yet, because the injury was suffered when he hit a rut the other night. It’s still up in the air as far as the seriousness of it. So we had first deemed it minor now it’s questionable.”

Prior to Sunday’s practice, the team announced it had waived forward Nick Johnson in hopes he would clear and could be assigned to Providence of the AHL. Johnson played well during training camp and the exhibition season, but there simply wasn’t enough room on the roster.

“It’s not an easy conversation, no doubt,” Julien said. “It’s one of those things that those kind of players understand. The little bit of time I’ve got to know him, he’s a real quality person, and in his mind he says, ‘I’m going to keep working hard because I have a feeling I’m going to be back here this year.’ So there’s confidence in his voice and determination and that’s what you want to hear. So I know he’s disappointed and you would hope he’s disappointed, but at the same time he seemed to have the right attitude to work his way back here.”

Final buzzer: Notes from Day 2 of camp

September, 13, 2013
BOSTON -- Bruins forward Carl Soderberg is competing for a roster spot during training camp and he's hoping the brief contributions he made last spring will help his cause.

He arrived at camp in great shape and wants to prove he can help the Bruins. After he signed with Boston late last season, and transferred to the NHL from the Swedish Elite League, Soderberg played only six regular-season and two playoff games. Now, getting a fresh start at camp, he believes it will help his chances at earning a roster spot.

"Of course it's pretty nice to be here at the beginning of training camp, but the 11 weeks I had here last season meant so much to me," Soderberg said. "I got to know the guys and the staff, the game in the NHL, too. I had a good workout summer and I came back in good shape."

When Bruins forward Gregory Campbell suffered a broken right leg in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bruins coach Claude Julien was forced to tweak his lineup. At first, he inserted Kaspars Daugavins into the lineup, but in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, Soderberg made his NHL playoff debut.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I got to play games in the NHL and it means a lot to me. I'm new here but I don't feel that new."

A natural centerman, Soderberg can play the wing, too. Even though he's been working as a center in the first two days of camp, he'll play any position in order to stay in the lineup.

"It depends what [Julien] wants to do," Soderberg said. "I can play winger or I can play center, it doesn't matter."

Bruins newcomer Loui Eriksson played against Soderberg in the SEL.

"He's a pretty strong player. He's pretty big and he can use his size over here. He has a good shot and he's pretty dangerous," Eriksson said.

At the end of last season, Julien admitted he didn't see enough of Soderberg to give an honest evaluation, but he's been impressed in the early going of training camp.

"He's looking good," Julien said. "He's lost weight but he's also gained some muscle. He was already a strong player to start with. I think he's looking good. When you see him in those battle drills, he's pretty strong on the puck and we like that about him. He's got a good skill level, he can shoot the puck well and make plays so he'll get a great opportunity in those preseason games to showcase himself and show the improvement."

* Only two days into camp, newcomer Jarome Iginla already appears comfortable playing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

"I've enjoyed it the last couple of days getting to skate with them," Iginla said. "They are great players and have great chemistry together. I'd like to play with them and help them out. As far as building chemistry, it's just time together and getting used to tendencies."

Once the exhibition games begin, it will give the Bruins' top line a chance to showcase its complete skill and there's no reason not to think that trio will have a major impact this season.

* Julien isn't ready to single out any of the young players just yet as to which one has stood out in the first two days of camp. Both he and GM Peter Chiarelli told the group of prospects during rookie camp that there are a few roster spots available for the taking. When asked who has impressed him the most so far, Julien said he's pleased with what he's seeing from all of them.

"There's a lot of them. There's nobody that is kind of on his own but there are a lot of good players who are showing some good things here," Julien said. "I think those kind of answers to me get answered during those preseason games because you've got some players that, going out would look great in practice but get them in a game situation they're really good players. And then you get the opposite, guys that are fine in practice, look great and you think, 'Wow, I can't wait to see them in a game' and the game starts and he becomes invisible or nothing gets accomplished. So you get those kind of players so to me, I'm careful about assessing players before I see them in a real game or a game type situation."

One player who has been really impressive has been forward Reilly Smith. He was one of the three prospects acquired from the Dallas Stars as part of the Tyler Seguin trade.

"Getting traded was obviously mixed emotions," Smith said. "It pretty much came out of left field. I wasn't expecting it at all going into this summer to be traded. I found out on Twitter, actually, so that was kind of funny. But it's a big difference coming from Dallas to Boston. There are higher expectations here."

The first two days Smith has been on the line with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron.

* Set your DVRs because the second episode of the new all-access "Behind the B" series will air on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. on NESN.

Five takeaways from Game 5

June, 23, 2013

With a 3-1 loss in Game 5 on Saturday night, the Bruins fell behind 3-2 in the Stanley Cup finals and now will have to stave off elimination in Game 6 on Monday at TD Garden. Here are five takeaways from Game 5:

Can the Bruins win the Stanley Cup without Patrice Bergeron? Give the Bruins plenty of credit; they did not fold after falling behind 2-0 and losing arguably their MVP as well as a leader in Bergeron. Bergeron suffered an undisclosed injury prior to Patrick Kane's scoring his second goal to make it 2-0 5:13 into the second period. The Bruins regrouped and held the fort strong for the remainder of the middle frame, and then cut the lead to 2-1 on captain Zdeno Chara's third goal of the playoffs 3:40 into the third. But that lead, and the absence of the player who is arguably a co-captain (not just alternate) with Chara and their best all-around player, plus a revitalized Blackhawks team seemed to be just too much for the resilient Bruins. With the news that Bergeron was taken to a local hospital for observation, I tweeted during the third period, "No Bergeron = No Cup" for the Bruins, and I believe that to be the case. Yes, the Blackhawks lost Jonathan Toews in the third period, but he remained on the bench and wasn't taken by ambulance to a hospital. And yes, Bruins coach Claude Julien said there was no update on Bergeron and he might play in Game 6, but if that's not the case and even if Toews doesn't play, this scribe believes the Bruins cannot win two straight elimination games without Bergeron. If not for Tuukka Rask, Bergeron very well could be the Conn Smythe winner if the Bruins were to win the Cup. He is the heartbeat of the Bruins and the player who can provide anything in any situation in which Julien needs him. The Bruins might force a Game 7 because they're that resilient, but without Bergeron, they will not win the 2013 Stanley Cup.

CLICK HERE to read colleague Joe McDonald's column on Bergeron.

[+] EnlargeZdeno Chara
Harry How/Getty ImagesZdeno Chara scored the Bruins' only goal, but he was on the ice for all three Chicago goals.
Just a reminder that Chara is still Chara: Heading into Game 5, the Blackhawks openly bragged that they were not intimidated by Chara and knew how to beat him. After showing that in Game 4, with Chara finishing at minus-3, they did so to an extent in Game 5, as the captain was minus-2 and struggled for much of the first two periods. But Chara wasn't about to roll over, and in the third period, he came out flying, hitting anything in sight and scoring the Bruins' lone goal. While his defensive game might not have been up to his usual standards in the past two games, he still has a goal and two assists in those two games. Let's be realists here: Chara is human, and like anyone else, he can wear down when playing the minutes he has been playing. But he is still one of the hardest workers in the NHL, and he showed that again in Game 5.

Rask and Crawford bounce back: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford were the subject of scrutiny by media and fans alike heading into Game 5 after questionable performances in the Blackhawks' 6-5 Game 4 win. But as they have on so many occasions during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, the two netminders and Conn Smythe candidates bounced back in Game 5. Rask finished with 29 saves and really couldn't be blamed for either of the two goals he allowed to Kane. As Rask did in Game 4 -- even when allowing six goals -- he kept his team in the game and gave it a chance to win Game 5. He stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period as the Bruins tried to come back and potentially tie the game. Rask was the least of the Bruins' problems, and the Bruins had some costly defensive lapses in front in Game 5. Meanwhile, Crawford once again silenced the doubters, with a 24-save performance and the win. He was especially big in the opening period as the Bruins outshot the Blackhawks 11-8 but still trailed 1-0 after the first. He is now 15-7 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .932 save percentage as well as being one win from the Stanley Cup.

Faceoffs a difference again: As they have been throughout this series, faceoffs were a crucial factor in Game 5. Even though the Blackhawks were beat on the faceoff dot 39-38 in Game 4, they were a much different team after being dominated in faceoffs in the previous two games. In Game 5, the Hawks actually won the faceoff battle 33-24, and it helped them take a 3-2 series lead. When their skilled players have the puck more, chances are they will score or at least create scoring opportunities more often, and that was the case in Game 5. The Bruins clearly missed their faceoff master after Bergeron left the game injured. They will need to step up as a team at the dot to prevent the Blackhawks from utilizing their offensive skill.

Soderberg not a bad choice: Julien did some line shuffling for Game 5, replacing Kaspars Daugavins with Carl Soderberg on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Rich Peverley. The Swedish forward made his coach look pretty smart. Soderberg had some solid chances early on thanks to some strong skating and forechecking. And thanks to his efforts, he found himself taking Bergeron's spot between Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand on the second line. Soderberg couldn't seize a regular spot in his six regular-season games, but after a solid 14:16 of ice time in Game 5, he definitely will have Julien thinking about playing him again in Game 6, especially if Bergeron doesn't play.

Soderberg active for Game 5

June, 22, 2013
After skating with the Bruins' fourth line at practice Friday, Carl Soderberg is in the lineup for Saturday's Game 5.

Soderberg replaces Kaspars Daugavins for the Bruins.

Game 5 will be Soderberg's first playoff appearance for the Bruins. He hasn't seen game action since April 28, and played just six regular-season games.