From Chipotle to playoff heroics: Matt Fraser etches name in history

10 Comments

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.)

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

Getty
Leave a comment

After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

Getty
5 Comments

When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here:

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

Getty
Leave a comment

It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

7 Comments

For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.