Ex-Blackhawk Colin Fraser gets tough against former teammates
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org June 4, 2013 11:56PM
Updated: June 5, 2013 12:19AM
LOS ANGELES — Ex-Blackhawk Colin Fraser was a little sheepish about mixing it up with his ex-teammates in the first two games of the Western Conference finals. He as much as anyone in the Kings’ locker room knows that not much good will come from taking on Jonathan Toews.
Fraser gave the Hawks’ captain — his former captain — a shot towards the end of a 4-2 loss in Game 2 and was not surprised that Toews’ teammates retaliated. Not his favorite moment of the postseason, but one that falls under the category of, ‘‘That’s hockey.’’
So what’s it like to battle and scrap with players you grew up with and the team you won a championship with?
‘‘I don’t know — whatever it is,’’ Fraser said, not comfortable with the subject. ‘‘It’s a tough game, hockey — right?’’
Fraser, now 28, was one of several young, promising players the Hawks did not have salary-cap room for after winning the Cup in 2010. Fraser only played in three postseason games — all in the opening round against Nashville. But he played a key role late in the regular season as the Hawks finished strong to go into the playoffs with momentum. Fraser scored five of his seven goals that season in the final five games — including two goals in a 5-2 victory over Dallas and two goals in a 5-2 victory over Colorado. His third-period goal in a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings in the regular-season finale helped send the game into overtime.
Back then he was getting assists from Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith. Now he’s battling them on the ice — almost literally.
“Of course, I played with a lot of those guys,’’ Fraser said. ‘‘But it’s not going to stop the way I play or stop me from trying to help our team win. There are going to be battles, of course. It’s nothing personal. Everybody knows that. And there are going to be more of them, the way this series is going.’’
As much as any of his Kings teammates, Fraser was not surprised by the Hawks’ excellence in Games 1 and 2 of the conference finals. He has seen the Hawks’ speed at work many times. And that made the clear difference in the first two games.
‘‘Nothing surprising,’’ said Fraser, who was traded to the Edmonton Oilers as a restricted free agent after the 2010 season. ‘‘They have a game plan. We know the way they play. They’re a speed team that gets the puck up really quick. They’re a good skating team.
‘‘We kind of played right into their hands with the turnovers in the neutral zone, kind of playing into their speed game, letting them get on the forecheck more than we want.’’
The Kings know they can’t match the Hawks’ speed. But they can neutralize better than they have.
‘‘We have to get back to simplicity,’’ said Fraser, who has no goals and one assist in 14 postseason games coming into Tuesday night. ‘‘The old cliche — pucks in and fewer turnovers, which will cause more [offensive] zone time for us so they can’t use their speed.’’