GLENDALE, Ariz. — Max Talbot, eavesdropping on a group with two reporters, cut in. When Tyler Randell was asked about having scored on each of his first two shots in the NHL, Talbot called out, “You should shoot more!”
It’s hardly the expected response in relation to the fourth-line power forward. But in his first two games in the NHL, Randell has scored twice, including on a nice backhander to put the Bruins on the board in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Coyotes.
“Once again, I blacked out,” Randell said with a big smile after the game. “Just threw it on net, I saw everyone coming after me, and it was a great feeling.”
In 74 games with the Providence Bruins last season, Randell scored 11 times, a total the Bruins would more than welcome on their fourth line, where goal scoring was nearly nonexistent last season. Randell scored Wednesday in his NHL debut in a rout against the Avalanche, and then when the Bruins were down by a goal — despite mostly dominating play — he got them going against the Coyotes.
“Obviously, it’s everyone’s dream, but definitely didn’t picture this happening,” Randell said. “Just trying to play my game, be physical, and get to the net.”
Still, Randell acknowledged, he isn’t entirely comfortable with his new role in a new league. He’s not ready to expect to see his name in the lineup.
The 2009 sixth-round selection was a surprise pick by the Bruins to make the team out of training camp, much the way Bobby Robins was last season. But Robins, who was 33 and long past being a prospect, sustained a head injury and lasted just three games. Randell has a brighter future, but it remains to be seen how bright.
For now, the Bruins are happy to have him.
“He’s a great guy,” said David Krejci, who had the primary assist on Randell’s goal on Saturday. “He works really hard. Every time he’s on the ice you notice him — if it’s a forecheck, if it’s just good defensive play — so he’s playing really well. He’s working hard and he’s getting rewarded the last two games.”
His game, too, is the game of the traditional fourth line. It falls into what the Bruins used to get from that line but have not for two seasons. It’s energy. It’s a lift. And while it’s unclear whether Randell is a long-term solution — he has, after all, played only two games — he is certainly working out at the moment.
“It’s huge,” Brad Marchand said. “That’s what we need. In this new cap era you’ve got to have guys that come in and produce, first-year guys like that. He’s done great since he’s been here, shown a lot of energy, and capitalized on a couple of goals. That’s what we need out of him and he’s playing great.”
But the goals aren’t really who the 24-year-old Randell is. He surpassed his goal total in fights last season, with 14 bouts in the AHL, according to hockeyfights.com, and 13 the year before. And it sounds as if Randell is itching to get back to one of his major skills. He looked on Saturday night as teammate Kevan Miller wiped out Joe Vitale, with the Northeastern product ending his night in the hospital for X-rays.
“Just playing my power forward game, just finishing checks, it’ll come,” Randell said. “Don’t really have to go looking for it. When we were down, I tried to stir it up a little bit. Millsy definitely took care of that and did a great job.”
So, with the way he’s been playing, does he feel like he’s solidified a spot on the fourth line?
“No,” Randell said. “Just got to keep going. Just keep playing my game and play every game like it’s my last. [I’ve] got to get more physical. I think it was two hits in each game. I’ve got to get on the forecheck more and create more energy. Millsy did a great job of that [Saturday]. Obviously got the guys going, so I’ve got to do more of that.”
. . .
With three days between the game against the Coyotes and their game against the Flyers at TD Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins spent Sunday away from the ice, and will do the same Monday. They get back to practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.