BOSTON – Rookie forward Peter Cehlarik became the ninth Bruins player to make his NHL debut this season when he got the call on Saturday afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks.
The 21-year-old Slovakian winger didn’t figure on the stat sheet in the 4-3 win over the Canucks at TD Garden, but he did play pretty well for his first time out in a top-6 forward spot skating with David Krejci and David Pastrnak. He had a hit and a takeaway along with a plus-1 rating in 13:50 of ice time in the win, and made one excellent pass early in the game that freed up Pastrnak for a chance all alone in front of the net.
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All in all it was a nice first step and one that could be built on if the Bruins show the kind of patience with young players they talked quite a bit about in the press conference announcing the firing of Claude Julien. That was also the day that Cehlarik was called up from Providence with an eye toward making the debut that eventually happened against Vancouver on Saturday.
“I started to try and stay calm and just not throw the puck away and be patient with the puck,” said Cehlarik. “Especially with those players I played with, they’re great players offensively and I tried to fit in. They know where to be on the ice and they have good position as well. It’s been good to play with them. I enjoy it.”
Cehlarik also did enough in his NHL debut to make Krejci comfortable that he’d like to see more of him on an All-European line with Pastrnak.
“I thought [Cehlarik] handled himself pretty good. He was making some nice plays out there. It was fun playing with him, so he’s just going to get better with games,” said Krejci. “It was a good game. I’m happy to be on his line today, and like I said we were close a lot, so hopefully we can build on it and be even better offensively.”
Ryan Miller poke-checked the puck away before Pastrnak could do his offensive best. But the sequence was a glimpse at the kind of skill that the 2013 third round pick could bring right along with his power forward-ish, 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame.
“I liked his game. He complemented that line, [and did some] good board-work. I thought he got on top of pucks, made some plays, and a couple pucks found him in the slot,” said Bruce Cassidy. “There were some nerves there as well and as he gets more comfortable, he should only get better. I thought he did a nice job for us.”
That nice job should get Cehlarik a couple more looks to see if he can be the potential answer for a Bruins team that needs size and skill on the wing pronto.