BOSTON -- Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will return to the lineup for the Bruins tonight, providing a much-needed boost for a squad that has lost its last two games and has been under scrutiny for its recent play. But there will be no Carl Soderberg in the lineup tonight, and that may not be such a bad thing for the Bruins and Soderberg.
Coach Claude Julien said that even though there are only six regular-season games left after tonight’s tilt with the Sabres at TD Garden, the Bruins don’t want to rush the Swedish star’s acclimation to the NHL.
“He’ll do the warm-up tonight. He just [got] in last night and he’ll get a chance to practice with us tomorrow,” said Julien. “It’s as much for him as it is for us. There’s a change in time, and there’s the fatigue of travel and everything else. Not knowing much about our system, he’s going to have a chance to watch tonight -- and see some things. Hopefully he sees the right things.
"I think it’s to his benefit and to our benefit for him to sit and watch. It’s better than just throwing him out there and watching him ad-libbing. He’s a big, strong guy that’s a good skater. I saw some good things. We put him on the power play there at the end of practice to see how he handled the puck. We like what we see from him.”
The Bruins will also do their best to make sure Soderberg knows immediately that he is part of the Bruins family both on and off the ice. The core of this team has done a great job of that in the past, specifically when Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Tomas Kaberle arrived at the 2011 NHL trade deadline and became key parts of the team's Stanley Cup run. While Kelly didn’t have to make quite as much of a transition coming from Ottawa as an NHL veteran, the welcome he received from his new teammates then was crucial to him, Peverley and Kaberle filtering into the culture of the team.
“It was a bit of transition for me, too,” Kelly said. “But the guys here are very accepting and they made Kaberle, Rich and myself feel very comfortable when we arrived, and that has continued and will continue for whomever becomes part of this team,” Kelly said.
Kelly realizes that it is now his job as a Bruin to do the same for Soderberg.
“I think it’s our job to make him feel as comfortable as possible,” said the Bruins alternate captain. “It’s a huge jump and transition, not only on-ice but off-ice. Swedes normally speak English very well so that won’t be a problem, but just the culture. We need to make it as normal as possible for him and make sure he feels comfortable in this room and knows we’re here for him and he’s part of this team now.”
As for Soderberg, he seemed comfortable already on Wednesday morning and was only uncertain about adjusting to the smaller NHL rinks.
“I don’t know [about the adjustment to North American ice surfaces]. We’ll have to see,” he said in his first Boston media scrum.
But he had nothing but praise for his new team.
“Great team,” said Soderberg. “They work hard, and they’re big players.”