BOSTON, MA - The Bruins recalled goaltender Niklas Svedberg from the Providence Bruins on Friday morning, before the team hosted the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
It was Svedberg's first NHL regular season recall. He's in his second full season with the organization after being signed as a free agent in May of 2012.
When Svedberg drove from Providence to Boston on Friday and joined the Bruins for their pregame skate, he was fresh off his first shutout of the 2013-14 season, a 4-0 win over the Worcester Sharks on Thursday night.
Svedberg found out about the recall right after the game. The win wasn't a bad confidence-booster heading into his first time with the big club.
He was set to dress up as the backup goaltender on Friday night against Ottawa, with Tuukka Rask the starter (and Chad Johnson a healthy scratch).
"We’re going to have a look at him in the next little while here," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media. "Not tonight [at TD Garden], but maybe tomorrow [in Ottawa] or the game after [against the Islanders]. I think he’s earned that. We told him that after having such a good camp, that we’d bring him up at some point and give him some games so that’s what we’re doing right now."
"We don’t bring guys up just to practice. If we bring them up, it’s to hopefully give them a game…we’ll play him at some point."
With Svedberg's NHL debut now on the horizon, the mantra for the netminder this season has been to keep trying to earn this opportunity.
"You want to work hard to get the chance up here and sometimes that’s what you try to do," said Svedberg.
"You just have to keep working on your game every day. It’s so little, the changes, so you just try to stick to your game all the time."
Svedberg was vying for the backup role with Chad Johnson during training camp and the preseason. Johnson would have been subject to waivers, and Svedberg wasn't. The 24-year-old was released from camp to Providence, where he would get into more game action and it would benefit his development. Johnson is 6-2-0 in his eight starts for the Bruins this season.
"They both had strong camps," General Manager Peter Chiarelli had said on September 28, after releasing Svedberg. "Just on a per minute played basis, Nik played better, but Chad played well…So it gives me a comfort they played well over the course of camp. That means we have some depth there."
It wasn't easy news for Svedberg to hear at the time, but he understood, and still stays patient with the process.
"Of course you want to be up here but it was not the case and you have to play good wherever you are," Svedberg said from the Bruins' locker room after the recall, his stall right next to Rask's.
Boston had seen enough during camp and throughout the beginning of the AHL season to warrant the callup.
"A guy earned an opportunity here to get some games and we told him he would and we’re keeping our promise because he’s deserving of it," said Julien. "But at the same time, Chad understands; he saw what kind of a camp this guy had."
"At the same time, hockey’s hockey and that’s the way it is. Everybody battles for their jobs, everybody battles to keep them and it’s just another healthy competition if you want to put it that way," Julien added. "He’s been told he was coming up and we’re going to have a look at him and he understands it."
Before the recall, Svedberg had suited up in 20 games for the Providence Bruins the season, putting up a 11-5-3 record, with a 2.91 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. It's been a fairly up-and-down season for the goaltender, though, after being named AHL Goalie of the Year in 2012-13 (his 37 wins were the second most by a rookie goalie in AHL history).
"Sometimes you go through a tougher time in your career and you just have to work through it. It’s not the first time and probably not the last," said Svedberg. "I’m feeling good lately and the start was good so I’m not too worried about it."
"He’s had some bumps along the way but he’s been a pretty good goaltender," said Julien. "Last year he was really good, had a great camp, and goaltenders have bumps along the way; it’s a normal thing, just like any player."
"His play has been good in the last few weeks so it’s probably a good time to bring him up and give him a shot."
What does Coach hope Svedberg gets out of the recall, however long, or brief, it may be?
"It’s experience," said Julien. "He’s played a preseason game and I thought he played really well."
"He’s earned his opportunity and, like I said, we told him we’d give him that. So it gives us an idea of where he is in development and at the same time, he’s certainly earned that opportunity by his play."