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Matt Fraser eager for shot with Bruins

The Bruins’ Matt Fraser is leaning on his heavy shot to make an impact on the club.Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports

Matt Fraser isn’t exactly sure where his shot developed, but he has his theories.

“I can always remember having those little squeeze balls and stuff like that, and I would sit in bed before I’d fall asleep and I’d squeeze them,” the forward said. “If it helped or not, I don’t know, but it just was something that you play around with.”

There are other potential origins , too. There are the shots that would fill his summers back in Red Deer, Alberta. There was the veneration of Joe Sakic. There was the tennis court about 10 minutes from his house where he would set up a net, peppering the chain-link fence at the back of the court with pucks, the ringing filling his ears.

That shot is one of the reasons Fraser could emerge from a crush in Bruins camp seeking to win one of the open forward spots. It was also something that remained hidden last season, a mythic weapon during Fraser’s 14 games with the team.

So how does that change?

“I think it’s just — it sounds kind of stupid — but the more time you spend here, you’re more familiar with everything and more comfortable getting in that comfort zone to get that shot away,” Fraser said. “If you’re going down the ice with [Patrice Bergeron] or someone, you’re kind of nervous, you don’t want to screw it up for anyone.”


He acknowledged recently he was too critical of himself last season, something that can be a tendency at times. He knows everyone else is being critical, and it’s hard not to worry about messing up in a big situation.

He didn’t screw it up Tuesday night, connecting on a pass from David Krejci in Boston’s 3-2 loss in the preseason opener against Montreal, finally showing off his bread-and-butter.

“When you get a puck in the slot like that,” he said, “that’s what I pride myself on.”

And it’s exactly what the Bruins want.

“I think he sees that there’s some opportunities here and he’s trying to take advantage of it,” coach Claude Julien said. “Kudos to him for taking charge and doing that. You want to see those players build some consistency in their game. I think if he plays like [that] night in and night out, his chances of making the team are pretty good. We’re only talking about one game, so let’s see how the rest of training camp goes.”


But that shot isn’t the only part of Fraser’s game. He’s acutely aware of the need to be a well-rounded player to make a Julien-coached team.

“I always get so caught up in the offensive side of the game, like you always think so hard, ‘I’ve got to score, I’ve got to make the right play there,’ but when it comes down to it, that’s not going to make or break me making this team,” Fraser said. “That’s not going to be what allows me to play on this team.

“In this system, in the Bruins organization, it’s defense first and making the right plays first. I think that’s something that I’ve learned to be better at and to focus more on is to be on the defensive side of the puck and making the smart plays rather than trying to be a high-risk player.”

That, he said, is what he’s trying to show in camp.

So far, the Bruins have used him in place of Milan Lucic on Krejci’s left wing. The duo has seen both the injured David Pastrnak and Loui Eriksson on the right wing with them. That won’t be his line when the regular season starts, but it has allowed Fraser to get some time with more dynamic players.

Fraser, who signed a one-year, two-way contract as a restricted free agent at the start of the season, could fill an open wing spot on the club. He made his mark in the playoffs last year, scoring the overtime winner against the Canadiens in Game 4 while playing on a broken foot. That was a great moment, but Fraser wants to make sure he does a lot more for his team.


“You obviously want to contribute any way you can, but at the end of the day you want to be a guy that the coach can trust when I’m on the ice,” he said. “You want to be a reliable guy so your linemates aren’t second-guessing you or anything like that.

“The biggest thing to show in this camp, I think, is your work ethic. There’s going to be mistakes made. It’s good that you get them out now, but your work ethic, your execution, and just showing that when you’re on the ice you’re reliable and you’re not going to go out there and get caught on the wrong side of the puck and get scored on and then all of a sudden you’re watching the rest of the game.”

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.