Not a bad couple of days for rookie winger Matt Fraser. Wednesday, in the middle of his lunch, he received a phone call from the Boston Bruins telling him to fly to Montreal.
Fraser’s Providence Bruins had advanced past round 1 of the American League playoffs, spurred by his five points in five games, including an overtime winner in Game 2 against Springfield. But, no pressure, the big club decided it needed him to dive into the NHL’s best rivalry for his first NHL post-season game.
Turns out Fraser, 23, has nerves of steel. The first three periods of Game 4 belonged to goalies Tuukka Rask and Carey Price, not to mention both teams’ defense corps. But Fraser broke the deadlock just 1:19 into extra time:
Sure, the goal is about as pretty as The Hound. But this is where the expression “they all count” comes from. Whichever team you support, it’s hard not to like this story. Nice little hop in his celebration, too (sorry, I refuse to use “celly” with a straight face.)
RASK PROVES IT IN A “PROVE IT” GAME
No need to exaggerate. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wasn’t truly on the hot seat entering Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal in Montreal. After all, this is the NHL’s shutout leader two consecutive seasons, freshly signed to a fat contract that pays him an average of $7 million through 2020-21. He has a .928 career save percentage, a .930 career playoff save percentage and, sheesh, he sat at .933 going into Game 4.
That said, he posted SPs of .879, .893 and .880 over the first three games of the series. That’s not good enough for the Vezina Trophy frontrunner. He had to make a statement and did he ever in Game 4. His 33-save shutout wasn’t filled with the most difficult of stops, but Rask did a fantastic job finding the puck through traffic and during scrambles. He’s back to looking like a top-three goalie in the world. And the Bruins are once again showing us why it’s silly to ever count them out of anything.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin