BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins rookie Peter Cehlarik was called up to Boston for the first time in his career on Tuesday amid the firing of Claude Julien, and has no doubt flown under the radar while skating with the B’s for the last few days. But the big-bodied Slovakian winger might get a chance to make his NHL debut riding the left wing with David Krejci on Saturday afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks, and perhaps be the missing piece that’s seemingly held the Czech center back all season.
Cehlarik was part of an All-Euro Line with Krejci and David Pastrnak at Friday’s practice, and could lead to some intriguing possibilities in back-to-back games this weekend.
“We’re tinkering with lines still. There’s a chance and we’ll make that decision. Everyone is healthy other than [Austin] Czarnik, obviously, so it’s just a matter of making the pieces fit best,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He makes good plays with the puck and he protects it well. [He’s a] bigger body. He’s got good pace when he’s moving.
“He’s not quick, but once he’s up to speed he’ll get to the net and score. The primary assets of his game are on the offensive side, but from what I understand he’s played well on the defensive side down in Providence as well. We’re looking at whether that might be a good fit for [David] Krejci, and maybe a guy that could play give-and-go hockey with him and think alike.”
The 21-year-old Cehlarik had a team-leading 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points (second on team) along with a plus-nine rating in the first 40 games of his pro career, and has also been an impressive 4-for-6 in AHL shootouts this season. The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder is the exact kind of big body and offensive player that’s had success with the playmaking Krejci in the past, and he’s looking to bring his strengths around the net to the NHL team.
“I got a lot of ice time and trust from the [Providence] coaches on the ice, so I just tried to use that and make the right plays out there. That’s what it’s all about,” said the B’s third round pick in the 2013 draft. “It’s been really good so far. I want to keep my confidence here and keep my feet moving, I guess. It’s a fast game here, but I’m going to try to make my plays up here.
“[Playing around the net] is kind of my game, so that’s where I’ve scored the most goals from is coming from those areas around the net. I’ve been working on it down there and it went pretty well in the [AHL] games.”
It all sounds good in theory, of course, but the only way for Cehlarik to see what he can do at the NHL level is to test himself in regular season games. The ideal is to do it with a coach that’s going to have some patience for typical rookie-type mistakes at the NHL level, and that’s what Cehlarik should see with Cassidy and a B’s management group that wants to integrate these players into the everyday lineup.