Niklas Svedberg was hours away from making his NHL debut last Saturday. He had been called up the day before, with the Bruins interested in getting a look at the young goaltender, potentially to replace Chad Johnson as Tuukka Rask’s backup.
But it never happened.
Injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Carl Soderberg had forced the Bruins to bring up David Warsofsky and Nick Johnson, filling the roster to capacity. But when Zdeno Chara was also ruled out for the Ottawa game, the Bruins also had to bring up Zach Trotman, leaving no room for Svedberg. So, down he went to Providence.
The stay in Providence wasn’t long, though, with the Bruins bringing Svedberg back up on Thursday and installing him in net against the Nashville Predators.
Of course, Svedberg’s stay in Boston was long, either. He headed back to the AHL after winning his NHL debut, 3-2, in overtime.
“Ever since I started playing, this is where I wanted to be, so I’m real happy with this win,” Svedberg said. “It’s just one game, but it’s real fun to get the win in my first game.”
The word throughout the locker room after the game was how poised the young goaltender remained throughout the game. The word calm was repeated throughout, by Brad Marchand, by Ryan Spooner, by Svedberg himself.
“It was pretty calm,” he said. “I felt pretty comfortable.”
Said Spooner, who has seen quite a bit of Svedberg in Providence, “That’s his game. He always plays well. He’s calm in the net. I thought he played great.”
Svedberg allowed two goals, with 1:56 left in the second period to Viktor Stalberg and with 4:25 to go in the regulation to Shea Weber.
And while Svedberg got his return ticket to Providence, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be there for long.
“I didn’t see him being much different from the first till the third,” coach Claude Julien said. “Thought in the second when they did throw a lot of pucks at him, he stood tall and made some good saves. I liked his game tonight. Really thought he was good. He just showed us that he’s a guy we need to look at and keep an eye on and consider.
“I think there’s a good chance you’re going to see him again here very soon.”
Dougie Hamilton and Soderberg returned to the lineup Thursday night. Soderberg missed just two games, but Hamilton had been out since suffering a lower-body injury Dec. 8 in Toronto. He missed 10 games.
“Just trying to focus on playing now,” Hamilton said before registering an assist in 17:56 of ice time. “I think the only kind of thing I’ve kind of gone through similar to this is when I was suspended in junior. It was pretty much three weeks of not playing.
“I think, just to try to get into it right away and kind of get back into the groove. I’m sure it’ll take me a little bit, but just trying to enjoy it and get back to having fun.”
The one benefit to Hamilton’s three-plus weeks off the ice was that the 20-year-old got some rest — which he didn’t get much of last season.
With Hamilton back, Kevan Miller was the healthy scratch among defensemen.
Soderberg’s return might help a pair of young players who hadn’t been producing nearly as much without the Swede on their line. The ice time for Spooner and Matt Fraser had dipped over the last couple of games, mostly because of lackluster performances. “When he’s on that line, there’s a presence there,” Julien said. “There’s size, there’s speed, and he’s not afraid to go in those dirty areas. It makes a difference for that line, so hopefully that happens again tonight.” . . . The game against the Predators was the Bruins first of five straight against Western Conference teams, including a trip to Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose . . . Rask walked through the locker room wearing a “Free Thornton” T-shirt, a reference to Shawn Thornton’s 15-game suspension.