BOSTON — Justin Florek played a hockey game Friday night for the Providence Bruins. With Providence’s schedule free on Saturday, it seemed like it would be the perfect chance for Florek to sleep in and do a little relaxing.
He ended up doing anything but relaxing on Saturday morning, and the 23-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
Florek was awoken by a phone call, but not just any phone call. It was “the call.” Bruins forward Jordan Caron let the team know he was experiencing some back problems and wouldn’t be able to play Saturday afternoon. The Bruins quickly called (and woke) Florek and informed him he’d be making his NHL debut on Saturday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets.
“It was pretty crazy,” Florek said. “I got the call this morning, [assistant general manager] Don Sweeney woke me up. I was actually talking to [Jarome Iginla] before the game and he said that’s what happened to him. You don’t have too much time to think about it. It was nice to just jump in my car and drive up here and get right into playing the game rather than thinking about it for a day.
Florek certainly held his own in his first taste of NHL hockey. He played just 2:10 in the first period, but he earned more ice time as the game went on and as the results started to pile up. Florek ended up logging 10:14 on the afternoon over 14 shifts. He also played a key role in one of the Bruins’ four goals. Florek went hard to the net early in the second period, and just missed redirecting a pass from Gregory Campbell for a goal. The puck would eventually find its way back to Torey Krug on the point. The Bruins defenseman blasted a shot toward the net where Florek had set up shop and used his 6-foot-4, 199-pound body to screen Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Krug’s shot beat Pavelec to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Florek would probably have rather had his first NHL goal, but he was more than happy to contribute any way he could.
“That’s a huge part of my game,” Florek said. “I’m a big body so getting in front is really important. You don’t always get the glory but a goal is a goal and helping out the team. It’s awesome to be out there and just trying to contribute.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien was certainly impressed with the rookie’s effort, especially Florek’s ability and willingess to create that net-front traffic.
“He played well,” Julien commented. “He’s a good skater, he’s got good size and obviously on one of Krug’s goals, it was him doing the job in front of the goaltender there. I thought he had a real good game for us.”
It’s unclear when Florek will get his next shot. Julien said that the plan was to send Florek back to Providence so that the forward could play for the P-Bruins on Sunday. Julien also said, however, that there’s a chance Florek is recalled before the team heads out on a West Coast road trip.
Either way, Florek had himself a nice little Saturday.
Photo via Instagram/@NHLBruins