Bruins' Fraser an instant cult hero
MONTREAL — Matt Fraser was able to provide a precise breakdown of what he had for lunch a couple of days ago, just before he was told to leave the Providence Bruins and get up to Montreal as quickly as possible to practice with the Boston Bruins.
“I was sitting at Chipotle eating lunch and I was wondering what I was going to do for the day,” he told the dozens of media types who were crowding around him late Thursday night in a hallway outside the Bruins’ dressing room at the Bell Centre.
“Double chicken burrito with guacamole,” he said. “No cheese.”
“And I got frozen yogurt afterward.”
As for a lot of what has happened since, that’s when the picture gets foggy, the details sketchy. He knows he was in uniform Thursday night, and, yes, he knows he scored the overtime goal that powered the Bruins to their 1-0 victory over the Canadiens to tie this thriller of a second-round playoff series at two wins apiece. Game 5 is tonight in Boston.
But just as we don’t always remember the details of our dreams, it’s sometimes the same with dreams come true.
“As you can tell from my voice, it’s pretty excited,” he said, the voice absolutely quivering. “I hardly slept today. I’m sure I’ll hardly sleep tonight.”
“I just watched the replay of it,” he said. “I don’t even want to try to explain that because that’s something I wish every kid could feel.”
Let’s save the kid the trouble. After 60 minutes of scoreless hockey Thursday night, the Bruins and Canadiens were just 1:19 into overtime when Fraser, appearing in his first career Stanley Cup playoff game, found himself in a scramble in front of the Montreal net. There was a loose puck, and there was Fraser, jamming it past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
It was, of course, Fraser’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal. And that’s a vital piece of information, given that he was one of the four players the Bruins acquired from the Dallas Stars last summer, when the team essentially fired star-on-the-rise Tyler Seguin.
Seguin had one goal in 27 playoff games last year.
Fraser now has one goal in one playoff game this year.
True, he wasn’t one of the big names in the deal. The big names on the Bruins end were Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith. As for Fraser, the 23-year-old Alberta native played in only 14 games for the Big, Bad Bruins this season. The rest of the time he was playing for Providence Bruins . . . and ordering double chicken burritos at the neighborhood Chipotle Mexican Grill.
But the Bruins needed help, and they needed it right now, and the call went out for this kid whose boyhood hero was Joe Sakic. When Fraser met his idol a couple of years ago, he said, “I was like a kid in a candy store.”
How cool is this story? He’s not that far removed from getting all twisted up over meeting his hockey hero. He’s only a couple of days removed from playing for the Baby B’s in the Calder Cup playoffs. And now he’s only one day removed from scoring the biggest goal of his life.
“I’ve played two exhibition games (in Montreal) before and I was like, ‘Oh, here we go,’” he said. “I mean, there’s more people in this media scrum than there’s fans in Providence. And that’s not a diss to Providence.
“I’m still shaking with excitement,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream, to score an overtime goal like that.
“When I first was traded here, you think of not only how successful the Boston Bruins are, but also how this whole city comes together,” he said. “It’s fun to be a part of all this.”
But my count, he used the word “fun” six times. Maybe seven. Hard to tell. Again, his voice was shaking.
If you think big picture, you arrive here: The series is tied. Game 5 is tonight at the Garden. But if you can’t get wrapped up in this story, and if you can’t get a kick out of this kid’s kick out of scoring that goal Thursday night, then you’re in this for the wrong reasons.
He said he turned off his cell phone Thursday, so he could concentrate on the game. He said he planned to call home Thursday night, because, he said, “It’s most important that I talk with my parents . . . hopefully my dad was impressed with this one.”
A lot of people were impressed with this one.