On Wednesday, Boston Bruins forward Matt Fraser was twiddling his thumbs and eating Chipotle. A day later, he scored the kind of playoff goal he must have dreamed about as a kid when his 1-0 overtime winner tied the Bruins’ series with the Montreal Canadiens at 2-2.
It was his first-ever NHL playoff game and first-ever playoff goal on his second career postseason shot.
To give you an idea of how rare this is, consider these bits of history:
As exciting as those factoids are, the thing that makes this story especially compelling is how much the 23-year-old’s situation has changed in the past 48 hours. The funny thing about all the “dream” talk is that he might not be doing much of that for a little while.
During his post-game interview with Pierre McGuire, Fraser noted that “words can’t describe” the feeling of scoring that goal in that moment (and that he dreamed up such scenarios on friends’ outdoor rinks many times).
Fraser also mentioned a little guilt about eating frozen yogurt before Game 4, and with that Chipotle admission, some might wonder about his diet if he wants to continue to make an impact during this postseason. (Then again, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma’s Qdoba ritual became a big story during their Stanley Cup run, so maybe this will be the next Tex-Mex superstition of note for the NHL …)
Getting to know Fraser
For some, the question is: can this young forward make an impact beyond Game 4?
Here are a few noteworthy things about Fraser:
- He isn’t afraid to get physical. He registered three seasons at or above 115 penalty minutes in the WHL. Despite playing just 14 regular season games with the Bruins, Fraser dropped the mitts twice. His fight against Buffalo’s Marcus Foligno didn’t go too well, but still:
- Fraser scored two goals in those 14 games at the NHL level and had 30 points in 44 contests with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He scored five points in five AHL playoff games too.
- He’s undrafted and came to Boston via the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas and brought Loui Eriksson (among others) to the Bruins. Being that it took this long for him to get some playoff action, expectations probably aren’t that high … but his line with Eriksson and Carl Soderberg showed some promise.
It’s unclear if Fraser will make much of an impact beyond Thursday’s big goal, but even so, it’s better than sitting around eating burritos.
(Although that’s pretty fun, too.)
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.