Cehlarik finally gets shot in B’s lineup
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Of all the promising young players the Bruins have in their system, Peter Cehlarik’s name should have been near the top of everyone’s list based on the small sample he was afforded last season.
While he notched a mere two assists, the Bruins were 8-3 with him in the lineup skating primarily on a second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak before some defensive lapses landed him back in Providence.
With the early season promise of Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork, Cehlarik might have been lost to fans because he wasn’t able to compete for a job in training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Then while playing at AHL Providence, his bad luck continued when he suffered a lower-body injury that prevented him from getting the call up to Boston.
But tonight against the Ducks, it looks like he’ll get his shot. And judging from yesterday’s practice at the Honda Center, he’ll be playing a prominent role. With both Brad Marchand and Bjork out for at least the games against the Ducks and Kings (tomorrow), coach Bruce Cassidy had Cehlarik taking Marchand’s spot on the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak while also employing him at the net front on the first power-play unit.
“Obviously losing (Marchand) is a big loss. We’ve looked at a lot of different options to move up there. It’s obviously a good spot, so we’re not afraid to put a young player there,” said Cassidy, who also likes Cehlarik’s puck retrieval capabilities on the power play. “Peter did play with (Krejci) and (Pastrnak) last year, so he’s used to playing with good skill. He does complement them as far his ability to protect pucks and getting to the net. So he could be a good fit. Again, it’s Day 1. We may look at other options with that, but we wanted to give that a try to see where he was, and I thought he did a good job (in practice).”
In his first five games with Providence, Cehlarik was part of a line with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino — perhaps the best trio in the AHL at the time — and had three goals and three assists. Cehlarik played well enough to get a brief callup for a practice before being sent down later in the day. Soon after, he suffered the injury and missed three weeks before returning to the Providence lineup on Sunday in Springfield. He got the call-up Monday.
“We knew Peter would have had a real good chance to make our club this year, but the shoulder injury put him back a little bit. He’s a guy we’ve been waiting on,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know what the appropriate amount of time is after an injury to come back and play. You like to get him as many reps as possible. But right now, if he can help our team, we’re going to put him in the lineup and use him.”
If the lines stay the same, it will be the first time Cehlarik will play with Bergeron.
“He’s an awesome player. I grew up watching him, and I’m just going to try to complement him and Pasta as well,” Cehlarik said.
Krejci’s availability would most likely impact how the lines are formed. He skated in practice without the noncontact jersey for the first time since being knocked out of the lineup with what appeared to be a back injury on Oct. 19. He did not take a regular line shift, which would suggest he won’t be playing against the Ducks. But neither he nor Cassidy ruled that out.
“It felt pretty good again today, another good day,” Krejci said. “At this point, I think it’s a gametime decision. Hopefully I’ll have a good rest of the day, a good morning skate. Obviously as a player you want to play, but you also have to be safe with your health.” . . .
The B’s did some powerplay work in practice and Zdeno Chara was used as a regular on the second unit.
“We used him there in practice with the type of setup we’ve had there, left stick up top who can shoot the puck. We’ve used (Paul) Postma there obviously. We could double up (Torey) Krug. (Chara) could get some looks there if we stick with it. I liked what I saw in practice,” Cassidy said.