While many hockey observers point to the career year for Jake DeBrusk as the biggest induvial improvement with the offseason coaching change for the Boston Bruins, power forward Trent Frederic is absolutely in that conversation.
The 24-year-old Frederic scored a pair of goals in a third period Boston Bruins outburst in Thursday night’s 5-2 win over the LA Kings at Crypto.com Arena, and that followed a throwdown fight with Kings forward Brendan Lemieux that continues a feud between these two guys dating back to Lemieux’s days with the New York Rangers.
Trent Frederic and Brendan Lemieux drop the gloves. pic.twitter.com/3SRgIniPgB
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 6, 2023
Once again Frederic fell an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick, but there’s zero doubting this is a breakout season for the former first round pick. Frederic now has a career-high nine goals in 35 games played and is on his way to a career-high in points as well after essentially securing a third line role with Charlie Coyle, and Nick Foligno most of the time.
“I think his maturity and his trust in his game and getting more opportunities has allowed his confidence to grow,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery to NESN after Thursday’s victory over the Kings. “He’s just a real good hockey player for us now. He’s got nine goals and they’re all 5-on-5 goals. That’s not easy to do in this league (in the) first half of the year.”
It may be that Frederic is enjoying some good luck as well with an 18 percent shooting percentage that’s nearly double his career mark at the NHL level, but it’s also about adopting the B’s coaching staff’s mantra about quality over quantity when it comes to shooting the puck. Frederic is using his size and strength to get closer to the net for high danger chances, and he’s been featuring a dangerous one-timer that never seemed to come out until this season.
“I think he’s fully engaged, but I think it’s also about him finally understanding who he is now,” said Nick Foligno. “Before it was he had the ability to fight, but now it’s when is the right time, when does he need to spark the team and when does he need it for himself.
“We’re kind of similar in that regard where he’s really understanding how valuable he is to this team when he’s playing the way he is, and how good he is as a player for us. He stepped up and fought a tough kid, and it really sparked him and the team. Then he gets two huge goals for us. That’s the Trent Frederic that everybody sees and he’s really showing it consistently now.”
It all comes back to confidence with Frederic, who seemed to battle those things after the last few seasons while getting benched after taking penalties in a game, or shuttling in and out of the lineup when consistency was elusive for him. This season it’s been different with a coaching staff that’s kept him in the lineup after he struggled mightily out of the gate with a poor training camp and preseason for the Black and Gold.
Since then it’s onward and upward with games like Thursday night showing the young power forward at his best at the NHL level.
“I’m playing free. [Montgomery] is just a great guy to be around and he’s got a great hockey mind,” said Frederic, of playing for Montgomery. “We gel well in that [way]. I could go on and on complimenting him, but it’s also my linemates making great plays to allow me to put it in.
“I haven’t had anything like that before, two goals on the same shift. I was actually ready to change after the first goal. [Got tired from] too much on the celly, so I was lucky enough to stay out there for the second one.”
The challenge now for Frederic will be to continue to maintain the balance between physical forward and productive top-9 player, and stay on the right side of effort, discipline and being exactly the kind of player that the Bruins need him to be this season. If he can do that then there could be some really promising things in Trent Frederic’s future in Boston for a player that is really built to be in Black and Gold.