BOSTON (CBS) – Carl Soderberg may have had a quiet night on the stat sheet against Phoenix, but he was anything but underwhelming on the ice.
The Swede finished pointless, registering one shot, and accruing four penalty minutes. He ended the game with only 12:30 of ice time and he failed to win a faceoff. What the numbers don’t show you is that Soderberg was the most impressive Bruins skater from start to finish.
The third-line center won’t get an assist on Zdeno Chara’s goal that opened the game, but he was personally responsible for setting it up. Soderberg took advantage of a Phoenix giveaway in his own end, then skated the puck through all three zones, fighting off a check at center ice before gaining the blue line and proceeding to dump the puck in deep.
From there he dogged Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, who retrieved the puck, and forced him into a horrific turnover that landed right on the blade of the Bruins’ captain in the center of zone. Zdeno Chara got the goal, unassisted.
Later in the game, the Bruins were nursing a one-goal lead in the third period. Tuukka Rask appeared to make the highlight-reel save to end all highlights, lunging back into his empty crease to rob Antoine Vermette of a golden opportunity to pot the equalizer.
However, instant replay revealed that Rask had some help. There was a stick under his glove in the crease, a stick that belonged to Carl Soderberg.
When Rask was asked about the save in the postgame interview, the perplexed goaltender replied, “Yeah, I’m not sure if I got a piece of it. It kind of felt like my glove hit something but then Carl, well he was the one who passed it back, he got the rebound there. So I’m not sure if I saved it, but whoever saved it did a great job.”
In the second period, Soderberg was called for a hooking minor, however it very well could have saved a goal. With the Coyotes threatening, Johnny Boychuk lost his stick in front of his net. In an effort to reacquire the lost lumber, Matt Barkowski got himself out of position, and Mikkel Boedker was skating cleanly through the slot with the puck on his tape.
Soderberg reacted quickly, and got his stick right into Boedker’s hands.The hook ensured that the Phoenix forward couldn’t get a shot off on what could have been an excellent scoring opportunity. That’ll go for two minutes in the penalty log, but fails to illustrate the ramifications of the infraction.
The Bruins had only one power play in the game, it was drawn by No. 34 in the second period. When Michael Stone went off for slashing, it was because he was trying to slow down the explosive Swede. In his postgame interview Claude Julien talked about fatigue involved in playing back-to-back games, but it was evident from the start that Soderberg was anything but tired.
When the Coyotes scored in the third period to pull within one, it was Soderberg’s line that was sent out to quell the visitors’ growing momentum. The third line responded with a shift that was spent almost entirely in the offensive zone, and put Phoenix back on their heels. There is no category for that on the stat sheet, but it quickly changed the tide of the game.
However, not all of Soderberg’s hard work has gone unrecorded. Since the Olympic break, the Bruins’ third line has been their best and their center has been the catalyst.
He’s notched three goals and four assists in the last nine games, but that’s only the first aspect indicating his effectiveness. Nights like last night show that there is far more to the Swede’s game than can be illustrated numerically.
Christopher Mason is an intern at 98.5 The Sports Hub.