Jack Studnicka once again has cracked the Boston Bruins’ lineup, but this time in a different role.
The exciting young forward is viewed by the organization long-term as a center, but with things well taken care of up the middle for Boston, Studnicka’s path to NHL playing time right now is on the wing.
So, that’s where he will be Tuesday night when the Bruins face the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. He’ll skate on the third line opposite Jake DeBrusk with Erik Haula between them.
The job description is a little different, and one that he might serve better this season after adding some size over the summer.
“We hadn’t used him much (on the wing last season), so it was a little bit of a quick trial,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after Tuesday’s morning skate. “He’s put on some weight, so he should be able to handle the rigors of the wall work a little more. Just talking to Jack in training camp, I think he just wants to play on the Bruins, wherever it is.
“He still has to create offense when he has the opportunity, move his feet, win pucks, make good decisions on his forehand, shoot the puck. That doesn’t change center or wing, it’s just on the wing it’s tighter spaces, have to be better on the walls. Defensive zone coverage assignments are a little different, so just help that line try to find its footing. It’s had its moments, just haven’t broken through and maybe Jack gives a little different dimension than a (Curtis) Lazar or (Karson) Kuhlman.”
Nick Foligno, the usual third-line right winger, is expected back for Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, so Studnicka does not have much time to make an impression and prove he deserves to stay among Boston’s 12 game-night forwards.