BostonBruins.com - On Monday morning, the Bruins recalled forward Justin Florek on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins. He joined the team on their trip out West, which begins with a tilt against the Ducks in Anaheim on Tuesday night.
Florek is fresh off his NHL debut on Saturday, in the Bruins' 4-1 win over Winnipeg at TD Garden.
The winger filled in alongside Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, with Jordan Caron sidelined by a stiff back. He logged 10:14 in ice time, including time on the penalty kill, while recording two hits and a shot on goal.
His net-front presence helped provide the screen on Torey Krug's game-winner. That same 6-foot-4, 199-pound presence nearly earned him his first NHL goal.
"That’s a huge part of my game, you know, big body, so getting in front is really important," Florek said following the debut. "You don’t always get the glory, but a goal is a goal and helping out the team. It’s awesome being out there and trying to contribute."
Saturday morning had marked the first recall of Florek's career, in his second full season with Providence after a four-year collegiate career at Northern Michigan University, where he served as captain.
He was sent down to suit up for the P-Bruins on Sunday, recording two assists in their 8-2 win over the Worcester Sharks, capping off three games in three days.
"He’s scheduled to play [Sunday] in Providence, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to bring him with us on the trip here," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had said on Saturday, following Boston's win.
"He played well. He’s a good skater, he’s got good size, and obviously on one of Krug’s goals, it was him doing a great job in front of goaltender there, and I thought he had a real good game for us, no doubt."
Florek played on the left side, with Paille switching to his off wing on the right. The pair, along with Campbell, had upped ice time because of their performance.
"He read the plays very well, even if he got himself a little bit out of position at times he knew exactly where to go and he acknowledged and he tried to correct it as soon as he did," said Paille, of Florek.
"I thought for his first game, he played extremely well, he adjusted to us very well. Especially for your first game, you go out there not thinking too much; you just kind of play it. It definitely makes it a lot easier that way."
Florek's well-rounded game came after a hectic morning on Saturday, getting woken up by the phone call from Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney at around 8:30 a.m., and hopping in the car to arrive at TD Garden prior to the team's 1:00 p.m. matinee.
"It was just the best way I could wake up," Florek smiled from the Bruins locker room postgame, where his stall was situated right by Jarome Iginla.
"It was pretty crazy… I was actually talking to Iggy before the game and he said that’s what happened to him, you don’t have too much time to think about it. So it was actually pretty nice just hopping in my car, driving up here and get ready to play in the game rather than think about it for a day so it was pretty good."
With an injury-marred December for the Black & Gold, the door opened for callups to get their opportunities up with the big club. On the current roster, Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner and Kevan Miller have all had sustained time with Boston.
The recalls also mean greater roles for those in Providence, like Florek.
"You want to work so you’re always ready to take that next step so when a guy like Fraser, you know a huge goal scorer, gets called up, I try to take his place down there and started scoring goals and producing like he did," said Florek. "So it kind of helped me move into that spot and kind of transformed my game all around and offensively."
The 23-year-old has put up nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in Providence through 35 games this season, with a plus-12 rating that's tied for the team lead.
In his debut, Florek nearly net his first career NHL goal, by doing what he does best - battling around the net, nearly tipping in Torey Krug's drive.
"Yeah those are ones you know, same in Providence, at first you kind of struggle to put those in the net and as of late I’ve kind of worked on being stronger on my stick and those have been going in the net for me," said Florek.
"I think just focusing in more and hopefully getting more chances to do it will help me start to put those in the net," he said.
Up with the big club, Florek won't be relied upon to score, but generating opportunities like in his first game certainly won't hurt.
However long the stay is, it's another step forward in his time with the organization, after being chosen in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.
"Definitely, it’s definitely been a positive progression," said Florek. "I think that’s part of the game. I think you never really quit trying to progress and move onto the next level."
"I’ve been trying work my way up the line up from Providence and it’s brought me here to Boston, so it’s a great feeling just to know that my hard work is starting to pay off."
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