BOSTON -- The Bruins wanted to get a look at 20-year-old rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in an NHL game after signing him following his sophomore season at Boston University, and they did just that in Saturday's regular-season finale.
The verdict was mixed for JFK in the 3-1 loss to the Capitals. Boston never held a lead, and Forsbacka Karlsson looked like the inexperienced player he very much is. Consequently, he only received 8:25 of ice time and looked a bit overwhelmed with just one blocked shot and a 1-for-2 performance in the faceoff circle on his stat sheet.
No matter how you slice it, Forsbacka Karlsson will need more practice time, and coaching, to become the player he wants to be. But everybody needs a first game played in the NHL, and Forsbacka Karlsson was the wide-eyed rookie on Saturday.
"It's not ideal no matter when, [but it's more difficult for a rookie making his NHL debut at] this time of year in meaningful games," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "If you're eliminated . . . [then maybe] there are teaching moments. I mean, there are teaching moments no matter what, but that's kind of where we're at . . .
"Only he can answer the comparables with college hockey versus the NHL, and how he felt," said Cassidy. "Really, the only thing we talked to him about was, ‘Listen, you're playing against men. They're going to be hard on pucks, hard around the pucks, and so that will be the biggest difference maker for you.'
"I think he probably found that out today because, you know, he was positionally solid and he didn't hurt us. He's just going to be harder around the battles and every young player learns that and the quicker you can adapt to that, probably the better, the easier, the transition [to the NHL] is going to be for you."
It was certainly a big step up from the NCAA level, where JFK posted 14 goals and 33 points in 39 games for the Terriers this season, and the former second-round pick admitted as much.
"It's a little faster out there, but it's nice to get out there and get the first game out of the way," said Forsbacka Karlsson. "I felt better and better as the game went on. Obviously, it's a little bit of an adjustment, but, like I said, you know, once you warm up a little bit it feels better.
"They're bigger, they're stronger, and they make better decisions, go faster. You have less time with the puck, so you know, it's everything like that."
It's what you'd expect to hear from a rookie making his NHL debut.