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Last Minute Decision Works Out Great For Fraser


By Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily

For the last eight games, forward Matt Fraser was watching the Bruins from high above rinkside on the ninth floor of the TD Garden. It seemed like Fraser would be doing the same thing again on Saturday night when the Black and Gold welcomed the Ottawa Senators for their first time in the 2014-15 season.

At the last second, however, Fraser was inserted into the lineup. David Krejci, who missed Friday’s practice, was supposed to play in Saturday’s game. After skating through warmups, the Bruins announced that Krejci would not dress to do an undisclosed injury.

Instead of being sent to the press box, Fraser would stay dressed in his spoked-B jersey. The laces on his skates still intact, Fraser took to the ice initially skating with Daniel Paille and Simon Gagne.

That would not last. The very next shift, Fraser took his spot on left wing alongside Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson on the third line. The trio developed some good chemistry in the four games they skated together as a unit during last season's Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens, which was highlighted by Fraser’s game-winner in Game 4.

As was the case then, Fraser had little knowledge that he would lace up the skates. Yet he was up to the task again after being notified at the last minute.

In his fourth game of the season, the undrafted winger scored twice in the second period to give the Bruins a big spark in their 4-2 victory.

“You kind of just forget about all the details and you just go out and play,” Fraser said about being inserted into the lineup at the eleventh hour. “You try to prepare the same way if you were playing every night, but when it comes down to it, mentally, it’s easier when they tell you just after warmup that you’re going in.”

“He had a great game tonight,” said Brad Marchand, who has three goals in his last two games, about Fraser. “I’ve always thought he’s been a great player. He’s really waiting for that opportunity to get in, and he has an unbelievable shot. And when he gets in position to score, he doesn’t miss that many times. So, hopefully he continues to play like that.”

Erase the news of Krejci’s injury for a second. Assume scouts, media scribes and other hockey personnel who were watching from the press box didn’t know that Fraser was a last minute addition. If they judged his performance based on Saturday’s contest, they would assume Fraser was playing in his 13th game of the season - instead of his fifth.

Some of it was based on Fraser going hard to the net and delivering his quick snap shot that would have any scout drooling. Some of it was based on the chemistry he's developed with Soderberg and Eriksson.

Regardless, Fraser had everything going for him.

“They’re both great players,” Fraser said about skating with Soderberg and Eriksson. “They made it pretty easy on me.

“You get those opportunities, and you know, I pride myself on those,” added Fraser, who is known to be his own biggest critic about his on-ice play. “To get that confidence back, and to get the ball rolling again [feels good].”

Fraser, who is comfortable playing left or right wing skated 10:50 of ice time, averaging 38 seconds per shift. Yet, despite the small amount of time, he made the most of it.

After Saturday, head coach Claude Julien, who reportedly signed a three-year contract extension according to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, might need to take advantage and give Fraser a little more ice time.

“We have an opportunity here to have a winger play both sides,” Julien said. “There are some guys that are very good at that, and he’s one of them.”

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