Jack Studnicka had a chance to make an impression on the Bruins and head coach Jim Montgomery in his 2022-23 debut Thursday night, but it didn’t quite go as planned.
The forward centered the third line in Boston’s ultimate 2-1 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden, but became a liability as the game went on.
Studnicka committed two penalties and had a costly turnover in the second period and ended up being benched for most of the third. Montgomery told reporters after the win it wasn’t Studnicka’s “best game,” but didn’t say whether he’d get another shot at the lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
The 23-year-old Studnicka has struggled to really find a role with the Bruins to no fault of his own and getting NHL reps probably will benefit him even as he goes through the growing pains.
Montgomery knows what Studnicka is going through, and shared the message he had for the youngster.
“I just told him to keep his head up, it’s a long season and I have no worries about where Jack is how he’s gonna help us,” Montgomery told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday. “It’s a hard game, but it’s part of being a pro, right? It’s like life. There’s ups and downs and how you handle adversity and grow from it is a true mettle of your character.”
Montgomery added what he believes is the biggest challenge players like Studnicka face, especially when they’re struggling to carve out a role with their team.
“To obsess about it mentally. That’s the biggest challenge,” Montgomery told reporters. “Because I know later in my career, I remember when I got called up to San Jose, I was in the minors for three years. But when I went up then and if I played five to eight minutes or if I played 12 minutes, or I sat out, I knew what my role was on the team. And when you’re a younger player, you’re trying to establish yourself in the league and you want to prove that you can be maybe a top six (forward), whatever the case may be. And it’s harder to accept the role and understand the value and importance of your eight minutes or your 12 minutes compared to 18 minutes.”
Studnicka was the odd man out during Friday’s practice rushes, but Montgomery did not commit to keeping him out of the lineup for Saturday’s matinee against the Wild at TD Garden.