DETROIT — Until last night, Carl Soderberg had been spending his time at center. He had played the position in practice and in his first preseason game. He moved to the wing against the Red Wings, on a line with potential third linemates Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith, and the move yielded immediate results.
Soderberg scored two goals against Detroit, both coming on rebounds, and demonstrated that he could be better suited to be on the wing in the NHL.
In fact, the trio of Soderberg, Kelly, and Smith as a whole was impressive on Saturday night in the Bruins’ 2-0 victory, constantly putting pressure on Detroit and coming away with some of the best scoring chances of the evening.
“It’s always fun to score,” Soderberg said. “Our role is to play solid defense and not have any goal against, and we played pretty good today and created some scoring chances as well.”
“I thought we played well for the most part,’’ added Kelly. “I thought we had a good first period, we were on the puck, forechecking well, and I think things kind of settled in in the next two periods.
“A lot of times you hope for that and everyone expects that. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes some time to form that chemistry, but I thought tonight everyone was kind of on the same page and working to one another’s strengths.”
Soderberg’s first goal came in the second period at 18:56, when he took a Kelly miss off the endboards and put it home. He similarly put back a rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot just 41 seconds into the third period, with the Bruins still on the power play from a late second-period penalty.
His goals were a function of being around the net, something he said created most of his goals in Sweden last season.
“He’s known for his scoring,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think we need some scoring from the wings. It was an opportunity here to see him again. We used him there a little bit last year, but he’s come in in better shape, more confident and everything else. It was an opportunity for us to get that line together, see what they could give us.”
Soderberg said he felt very comfortable from the start on the left wing, and added that he loved playing with Kelly and Smith. Kelly, for his part, praised Soderberg’s positioning, in addition to his scoring touch.
“It was good,” Julien said. “They seemed to be pretty reliable as a line. So it’s just again to look at them as a threesome, then they’ll get some other looks as we move forward. I like that line.”
After struggling on Monday in Montreal, Chad Johnson had a bounce-back performance for the Bruins, which could help him hold off Niklas Svedberg as he tries to win the backup goalie job.
Johnson allowed three goals on eight shots against the Canadiens. Against the Red Wings, he looked far more comfortable, making saves on all 18 shots he faced.
“Half a game doesn’t make a career, either way,” Julien said. “But he had a chance to redeem himself tonight. Although we played well in front of him, there was a lot of tough shots. A lot of traffic, lot of screens. He played well, made the saves that he had to make. It was much better.”
Johnson said he felt like he knew what he could do, he just needed to show it.
“For the most part for myself, I know I can play. So it’s not really proving to myself that I can do it,” Johnson said. “I think it’s proving to you guys and to, obviously, the organization that I can be at this level. Obviously, the first game wasn’t very good.”
Julien specifically brought up the play of Ryan Spooner , noting the center had played three good games this preseason. Bruins may have some difficult choices as the preseason winds down due to the position he plays. “He seems to be improving in the areas that he had to improve and certainly can skate in this league,” Julien said. He added later, “There’s going to be decisions that you make at some point. To make those now is not wise . . . Depending on his play, we see what happens around the league. Sometimes guys knock other players out of their spot. So that’s why it’s important for guys to fight for their own. With the [salary] cap it’s important that guys understand that, because you have to make room sometimes for others, and sometimes it means somebody loses their job because other guys like that come up.”